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This 1978 Valiant Super Bee Is a Rare Chrysler Foreign Market Vehicle

John Machaqueiro Nov 20 2020

 

Behold one of the finest examples of a 1978 Super Bee that you will ever see. Yes, you read that correctly. It is a Super Bee, and there was such a beast that year, and believe it or not, it actually cranked out 300 horses. The only thing was, to slide behind the wheel of one, you had to live in Mexico. For all the Mopar Illuminati who are doubtful, we will explain why these were made. It all started with the A-Body cars, which were not only being produced in Mexico in the '60s and '70s, but also in other places like Brazil, where it was branded as a Charger R/T. A-Body variants branded as Darts or Valiants were actually assembled or produced in places like Spain, South Africa, Belgium, Argentina, and Australia. In Mexico, the A-Body was branded as either a Dodge or a Valiant. This was true all over the world, with the Plymouth name kept exclusively in North America.

 

 

By 1970, Chrysler was faced with a decision on which way to go with their performance models in Mexico. They were selling the A-Body Barracuda up until 1969, but with the introduction of the E-Body in North America in 1970, the tooling costs to produce them in Mexico would be extremely high. Importing them wasn't an option because a government law mandated that at least 60 percent of the parts used on cars being sold in Mexico had to be domestically produced. Chrysler came up with the bright idea to slap the Super Bee name on the A-Body as their performance offering. They were equipped with a 318 small-block rated at 270 horses, which was more or less right in line with the advertised horsepower numbers for the 340 small-block stateside, and you could order it with a three-speed or four-speed manual. In the years that followed, the Mexican Super Bee would be a mix of Dodge and Plymouth front and rear sheetmetal that rotated. The last two years of the A-Body Super Bee saw an increase in power with the addition of the 360 small-block rated at 300 horses, which was courtesy of Mexico's less stringent pollution laws. With the introduction of the F-Body platform in late 1975, the Super Bee name once again migrated as a 1976 model offering. The vanilla versions were branded as either a Dodge Dart or a Valiant Volare, while the performance variant was named the Valiant Super Bee, which consisted of the front of the U.S. Dodge Aspen and the rear of the U.S. Plymouth Volare. It was still equipped with the 300-horse 360 and optioned with a 727 Torqueflite or a four-speed manual. Interior trim levels and exterior options were right in line with what was being offered on the Dodge Aspen R/T or Plymouth Road Runner for the U.S. domestic market. These cars were actually pretty fast by contemporary standards and clearly even faster than anything Chrysler was offering stateside in the F-Body. For a few years they were used by the Mexican federal highway patrol as chase vehicles.

 

 

Now that we've dispensed with the history lesson, we can move on to Marco Sandin's 1978 Valiant Super Bee. We first set eyes on it at the Muscle Cars at the Strip show in Las Vegas. Every year, Marco and his family make the trek to Vegas to take in some racing and display some of the Mopars in their stable. The Super Bee was a fresh restoration that his crew had just completed in their Sonora Workshop in Hermosillo, Mexico. Marco told us that he is the third owner and that it was purchased new locally and has been in the area since. A fellow Mopar friend was the second owner, and that is whom he purchased it from. He noted that when it first arrived at the shop to assess the overall condition, it was clear from the outset that, overall, the car was tired. The 360 was in poor condition, as was the interior. He also made it clear that, while these cars were built in Mexico, finding parts for them there is an exercise in futility, so as he started the restoration, his contacts stateside were a lifeline for anything that was needed.

 
 
 
 

While F-Body performance cars built by Chrysler don't get the love that they deserve, they are an important part of the Mopar landscape because they represent the dark days when outright horsepower was shunned. Having a restored example from another market that was produced in even lesser numbers is a plus, as it preserves a part of history that, once it's gone, is impossible to recover. We applaud Marco and his effort to restore such a rare car.

1978 Valiant Super BeeSpec Sheet

Marco Sandin, Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico

ENGINE

Type: 1978 360-cubic-inch LA small block
Bore x stroke: 4.00 (bore) x 3.58 (stroke) inches
Block: Cast iron block
Rotating Assembly: Stock cast iron crank, stock forged connecting rods, stock aluminum pistons
Cylinder Heads: Stock cast iron 1978 360 LA with 1.88/1.60 valves
Camshaft: Chrysler original hydraulic
Compression: 8.4:1
Induction: Stock Chrysler dual plane cast iron manifold, Carter Thermoquad carburetor
Electronics: Stock Chrysler electronic distributor
Oiling System: Stock oil pan, high-volume oil pump
Exhaust: Stock cast iron exhaust manifolds, stock pipes, stock mufflers
Cooling: Stock 26-inch radiator

DRIVETRAIN

Transmission: 1978 Chrysler 727 Torqueflite automatic
Shifter: Stock console shifter
Driveshaft: Stock Chrysler
Rearend: Stock Chrysler 8 1/4 with 3.07:1 gears

CHASSIS

Front Suspension: Stock Chrysler upper and lower control arms, stock shocks
Rear Suspension: Stock Chrysler leaf springs, stock shocks
Steering: Factory power steering box
Front Brakes: Chrysler original 10.8-inch discs
Rear Brakes: Chrysler original 10-inch drums

BODY

Sheetmetal: Original sheetmetal
Paint: base coat/ clear coat R-M PW3 White

INTERIOR

Instrumentation: Original Chrysler instrumentation
Steering Wheel: Original steering wheel
Upholstery: Reupholstered original seats, reproduction headliner, reproduction carpet
Audio: AM/FM factory radio

WHEELS & TIRES

Wheels: Chrysler Rallye wheels 14x6 (front and rear)
Tires: BFGoodrich Radial T/A 205/70R14 (front and rear)

 

SOURCE: HOT ROD

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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