Dodge Charger SRT8 Super Bee Review
If you time-traveled back to 1964 and told a muscle car buyer that his ride would be a respected classic 40 years hence, he’d call you crazier than Khrushchev. Muscle cars were fun on the cheap. You got what you didn’t pay for: nonexistent handling, pathetic drum brakes, two and three speed automatic transmissions and efficiency measured in gallons per mile (which was no biggie at the time). Thirty years later, Chrysler and Dodge are leading the charge down muscle car memory lane. Until the Chevrolet Camaro appears, the Dodge Charger SRT8 Super Bee could well be the post-modern muscle car mascot. Which is what, exactly?
No question: brash is a big part of the definition. Even from a hundred yards, no one will ever mistake the Super Bee for a Honda Accord. If the base Charger’s styling is “in your face,” the nuclear yellow Super Bee is down your throat. The headlights are nasty-looking, the hood scoop sucks souls, and the twenty inch wheels are Hummer compatible. While a great many enthusiasts will hail the Bee’s extra-extroversion as welcome break from today’s automotive appliances, most people will hate the look of this car.
Then again, most of these knee-jerk detractors drive brownish-silverish-greyish Camrys. If you’re not one of them, the odds are excellent that you really like the Super Bee's stance, style and detailing. The matte-finish decals on the hood and rear side fenders are a resolutely retro touch. But retro what? They looked cheap on the original, and they look cheap here. I like them for their nod to history; but by that same reasoning the Renault Dauphine is “cool.”
Sitting in the Super Bee is like partying at a Rubbermaid factory– in China. The entirety of the car’s dash and door panels are made from some kind of nasty ass black polymer that wouldn’t look out of place in a hospital waiting room, or any other space where bodily fluids must be regularly removed. Everything on view looks OK in an entirely yeomanly built-to-a-price kinda way– which is a throwback too far for this retro-rocker.
Good news: people buying the Dodge Super Bee probably won’t care any more about the car’s low-grade interior than they do about CO2 emissions warming/cooling the planet. The seats say it all: they’re leather and suede, extremely wide and very supportive. WYSIWYG: the chairs are perfectly built for generously proportioned empty nesters who like to drive like their hair’s on fire.
So fire-up the Super Bee’s honking 6.1-liter Hemi and a baby seal dies somewhere. Milliseconds later even the dimmest driver realizes that the Bee– like the other SRT8 iterations– is nothing but an engine and a paint job. And a hell of an engine it is. Four hundred and twenty five horses are enough to propel this brick shithouse to 60mph in five seconds. As momentum equals mass times velocity, accelerating that quickly in a 4200 lb car is an astonishing experience. The engine is suitably loud, and every slam on the gas (gently depressing the go-pedal is like using the rhythm method with Marissa Miller) yields ferocious thrust.
In terms of changing direction (a silly concept but there it is), the Super Bee’s steering is better weighted than the helm in the lesser R/T Charger. But the combination of double-wide tires and massive torque means that driving the Super Bee requires less finesse than throwing a water balloon at the side of a barn. In fact, Dodge couldn’t left off the steering wheel entirely; directional change is just as easily accomplished with your right foot as with the decapitated turtle that passes for a tiller.
It’s a stupid way to negotiate a turn, but it’s a gen-u-ine Dukes of Hazard-style hoot– provided you drive with the aforementioned pate conflagration in mind. At slower speeds, burbling through the ‘burbs, driving the Super Bee is such a pedestrian endeavor you might as well walk. You know; providing you could still get laid by women who call you by a shortened version of your first and middle names combined.
Returning to our original question, the Super Bee is a modern car only to the extent that it’s presently being built. It follows the old formula of sticking a huge and powerful engine into a hum-drum big car. Of course, we’ve got better safety these days. Only Super Bee side curtain airbags are optional and most of those ones already built don’t got 'em, leaving drivers with two– count ‘em two– airbags.
Impact protection or no, Dodge won’t have too much trouble selling Super Bees; collectors and muscle car fans with firsthand knowledge of the era will snap them up as a second chance to buy what they couldn’t afford back in the day. In that sense, we who followed should be glad cars like the Super Bee exist. But unless tail out powerslides are your staple diet, at $46k, its best admired from afar.
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