Ron Dezsi has spent the last ten years rebuilding an old classic. The 1969 Dodge Super Bee with the HEMI 426 V-8 engine. And it has paid off…. In both awards and envious stares.
“It’s a really big honor to have Mopar choose my car and to get to bring it to the Woodward Dream Cruise,” Ron says. “With this being the 100th anniversary of Dodge and the 50th anniversary of the HEMI Race engine, my wife and I couldn’t be more pleased to be picked for this. I’ll never get to do this again.”
Who is Ron Dezsi?
Ron is a 54-year-old retired contractor with an affinity for the brand – growing up with a range of Chryslers, Dodges and Plymouths in his family driveway. At one point, he taught kids the importance of taking care of their Chryslers as a high school auto mechanics teacher. Restoring many muscle cars over the years such as the Plymouth Road Runner, Ron still has a Dodge Lil’ Red Express. As Chrysler has changed over the years, Ron’s love for the brand has not. Currently, he drives a 2007 Dodge Ram pickup, while his wife drives a 2012 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon.
The 10-Year Journey
Making its public debut in March at the Detroit Autorama show, we see how you’d be hard-pressed to find a better example of this classic muscle car – but what did it take to get here?
Ron hunted for this specific classic: Dodge Super Bee with a 426 HEMI engine. This limited-production muscle car was few and far between. Until his daughter made connections with a woman from Ohio at a bridal show, Ron’s dream was on hold. The old Dodge sat in the couple’s garage, unused for years – until Ron took it off their hands.
Blown engine. Cut-out body for racing. Exhaust tips, bonnet and glass-fiber air scoop are unique to this model year, therefore hard to find. Missing three of the five stamped bolt heads for bottom valances. These are only a few of the stumbling blocks Ron encountered.
Even with all these issues, Ron was determined to recreate this classic. “I knew I wanted to put this back to way it came from the factory,” Ron says. “I didn’t want this to be your usual rotisserie restoration. For the same amount of money I could have had a shop do this and it would have been done in two years or so. But I wanted to be actively involved.” So began the 10-year journey. Committed to using New Old Stock (NOS) parts as much as possible in the restoration, Ron made contacts with owners, parts dealers and restoration experts across the country.
He turned to noted car restoration experts to have the body sheet metal returned to the factory-original look, chrome plating reapplied to interior parts and to have body and frame parts painted, with the factory-proper overspray and paint runs included. The Super Bee’s one-part white paint was wet-sanded with mineral spirits and buffed with the wool pad – the factory-specified procedure used in 1969 to prepare cars for the auto show circuit. The bumpers were straightened and sanded – but with slight imperfections left in to replicate what came from the factory.
He also turned to friends. A high-school friend helped Ron rebuild the HEMI engine, and then it was sent out twice to be checked on a dynamometer for quality and performance. Then he built a stand and ran the engine through its break-in cycle before installing it in the car.
Classically Perfect 1969 Dodge Super Bee with the HEMI 426 V-8 engine
Restoration is not a smooth process. Although with the time and patience, Ron only got flustered once. “It was a couple of years before we finished. I was busy at work, busy at home and it hit me, I don’t think this thing will ever get done,” he says.
But he did it. The car was completed last December. At Carlisle, two restoration experts gave the car a thorough inspection for 90 minutes. They found only one flaw – incorrect wiper blades, which have since been replaced with correct units.
It attracts attention at every show, from old and young fans. “Young people see that Super Bee logo and identify with it because they’ve seen it on the new Super Bee Chargers,” Dezsi says. Now, you can see Ron at the Woodward Dream Cruise!
Will Ron rebuild again? Possibly. There’s still a pile of hot rod parts taken off the Super Bee in his garage. Maybe we’ll see them on a street-legal recreation of a Super Bee drag car. Although it might take another 10 years.