1969 Dodge Coronet 440 six-pack A12 Super Bee tribute
Peter Green's 'last car' turned out to be two, but he's especially happy with his green Coronet, which has made the transition from street car to racer… and back to stock street car again with some expert help! Words and photography John Cass.
Back to Basics
The value of classic Mopars is on the rise and we've come across a number of former race cars that have been returned to stock guise in recent years — Peter Green's stunning '1969 six-pack A 12 Super Bee tribute is no exception. Having spent much of its first two decades in the UK known as Woody's Wedge, this was a serious quarter-mile street/strip car piloted by Bri Wood. With racing duties firmly in the past, this Coronet now enjoys a fresh lease of life as Peter's show car and, when it's dry, it's often his daily driver too.
Peter has been into his American classics for as long as he can remember; Highway Patrol, Whirlybirds and Cannonball Run among the usual inspirational suspects. «Films like Get Carter, Vanishing Point and Two Lane Blacktop were up there too,» he laughs. Back in the Sixties, Peter entered the automotive trade, but chose to concentrate on trucks rather than cars; initially in truck rental, then as an HGV 1 driver and finally settling down in truck sales: «I was into my cars throughout that whole period and bought a Mark 2 2.8-litre Jag, a 420G and a Mark 3 Zodiac, all for less than £300 each,» he remembers. «I ran around happily in a lime green Broadspeed Capri Bullitt 190 for a few years until I came across the turbo version of my own car at a set of traffic lights one day,» he laughs. «I moved on to American cars shortly after...»
A '1965 Impala 327 convertible for £250 and an AMC Javelin 343 manual for £400 may seem like unbelievable price tags now, but this was a time when big American cars fetched next to nothing and Peter was happy to take advantage «I managed to pick up a '1965 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham, identical to the one used in Get Carter, for £700,» Peter recalls. «I bought it from Peter Woolhouse and timed it just before his dad was about to stack the Cadillac on top of some other priceless gems in the famous American car graveyard in Barnsley!» Peter went on to use the Fleetwood as a wedding car — apparently the Rolls-Royce boys were not impressed.
«In the early Eighties, I took a job in Saudi Arabia selling Scanias, Kenworths and Peterbilts. The company I worked for also happened to be the main Mo par dealer for the whole country, so I was working on Chrysler New Yorkers, Plymouth Traildusters, Dodge Rams and even police-spec Dodge sedans which were basic, but very powerful, as I discovered when one left my '1979 6.6-litre Trans Am for dust one day!» Peter laughs. «Incidentally, no Fords were available at the time, due to an Arab embargo against any company that did business with Israel.»
While in Saudi Arabia, Peter took part in a bizarre drag race between two trucks loaded with Caterpillar bulldozers with the idea of convincing a potential buyer whose truck was best. «My Scania had a 14.0-litre VB and a 40bhp advantage over the Volvo's 12.0-litre six-cylinder unit and the guy driving the Volvo was no truck driver.» Peter continues. «When I pointed out the Volvo would win if I drove it, the exasperated yard foreman asked his boss why he didn't just buy the Scania instead as it's a better truck. He did end up buying the Scania, causing some red faces among his entourage.»
Once Peter made his return to the UK, he dismissed the usual European offerings and ran a Dodge Tradesman, a Dodge Ram and a 2001 Mustang Bullitt fitted with a supercharger and intercooler. «I sold the Mustang because my daughter ended up using it more than me and my business ruled my life at the time,» Peter laughs. «When I became semi-retired and armed with money from a recently sold Stealth VW camper, I decided to look for one last car.»
After such an illustrious automotive career, Peter wasn't going to settle for anything less than something that was really special and got chatting to Kenny Coleman at EDM, who he'd known since they were teenagers. «I'd narrowed it down to a big Sixties Ford, Dodge or Plymouth, and Kenny suggested I made contact with Dave Billadeau, as he's the main man in the north when it comes to Mopars,» Peter recalls.
This was back in late 2018, and by chance Dave had just begun returning the Woody's Wedge Coronet drag car back into street spec. «Unfortunately, Dave had already promised that car to someone else so I was left a little disappointed. He did mention his dad, Gene, was considering selling his immaculate GTX, but that was far too nice to drive on a daily basis,» Peter explains.
A few months passed and while trawling through the internet ads Peter spotted a road-going version of jack Sears' famous British Saloon Car Championship-winning '1963 Galaxie. «It was black on black and had the 7.0-litre V8, twin Edelbrocks under a Thunderbolt hood and lowered on 15-inch Cragars. This was a car I idolised back in the Sixties, and without hesitation I bought it!» That was Peter's last car sorted, or so he thought, but the temptation to trawl through the classifieds continued and he soon spotted a familiar Dodge Coronet finished as a Super Bee. «I recognised Dave's number and gave him a call,» Peter remembers. «The original buyer had pulled out for some reason and now the car was on the market I decided to invest some of my pension money, unwisely, some may say, and ended up buying the Coronet to keep the Galaxie company!»
As ever, Dave Billadeau has carried out a flawless restoration with this latest project and, yet again, it's a credit to his skills and expertise. And just like Peter, this Coronet 500 has had an interesting past too. Imported by Duncan Watts 20 years ago, this was already an 11-second strip car when it entered the UK. «Bri bought the car and raced it for 12 years and it was well-known in its pale green livery with prominent Woody's Wedge and woodpecker decals along the sides,» Dave remembers.
«I installed a bigger 572cu in 830bhp V8 and he was running 9.5 second quarters at its peak.» Around 2012, Bri took the decision to retire the Coronet from racing and the car went to Dave, who went on to remove the racing modifications which included the cage, engine and rear axle, essentially just retaining the remaining standard parts. «My plan was to turn it into a stock 440 A 12 six-pack Super Bee clone,» Dave adds. «Luckily, the original fender tag was still in place which provided the correct paint code and it was soon repainted back into F5 medium green metallic.»
Despite its 12 years in racing, the panelwork had been well looked after; Dave only needing to weld a single piece in the trunk where the fuel cell had resided, while just a handful of tiny dents received some filler work. The lightweight fibreglass bumpers were also removed, with Dave sourcing metal replacements from Auto Metal Direct. «I fitted new door seals, but was a bit hesitant when it came to the vinyl roof as I know full well these can be a pain to fit,'' Dave laughs. „I measured everything up and went for it using contact adhesive to stick the roof down. It left some bubbles and I was thinking the worst, but thankfully by the following day the bubbles had all disappeared.“
The inside of the trunk and engine bay also received fresh paint and Dave took the decision to build up a 440cu in V8 specifically for this car; +30 over, with forged pistons, six-pack conrods, hydraulic cam and 440 aluminium heads, this powerplant pushes out a healthy 490bhp with 510ft-lb torque. As you'd expect, the trans has been uprated too, with an 8¾-inch rear axle, Suregrip LSD and a Torqueflite 727 gearbox with full manual valve body; Dave's brother, Scott, tackled this area of the rebuild. Fitting the standard suspension, stock front disc and rear drum brakes was all routine work for Dave and the brand new American Racing Torquethrust wheels really make the Coronet's exterior stand out. The previously stripped-out interior proved to be a trickier task.
»The original interior had long gone, and finding certain parts for these cars is becoming more difficult," Dave admits. «I found a front bench seat in London and already had the upper section of the rear seat in my garage, but the lower section I had to import from the States.» These have been recovered in black vinyl, and Dave got to grips with the headlining and carpets, while fresh door cards came courtesy of Legendary Auto Interiors. «I had to remake the dash from aluminium and made a new fascia panel to smarten it up,» Dave adds. «The whole project took seven months and considering this used to be a drag car, it's all come out pretty well!»
Peter is also pretty happy with the Coronet: «Unlike myself, Dave isn't a fan of white lettering on tyres, so I may turn them around at some point and I might have chosen a cream roof and rear stripe, but then the car would need a cream interior so where do you stop?» Peter laughs. «I've taken both the Galaxie and the Coronet to a few shows and drive them both quite often; it's great to be able to choose which one I take out!» That one last car may have ended up being two, but there have been no regrets so far.
440cu in V8
Six-pack conrods 440 aluminium headers
Hydraulic cam 490bhp/ 510ft-lb torque
727 Torqueflite gearbox
Full manual valve body
8¾" rear axle
Front disc brakes
Rear drum brakes
American Racing Torquethrust wheels
BODY: Coronet 500
Super Bee badging F5 code medium metallic green paint
Black vinyl seats
Fresh headlining and carpets
Fabricated aluminium dash
Fabricated fascia panel