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So what do you get for $2600 in addition to the bumble bee stripes? Lower body cladding, monochromatic color scheme in either black or Solar Yellow, yellow interior accent trim on doors and yellow center bezel, taillamp guards, chrome exhaust tip, aluminum fuel filler door and—hold your breath—a “unique” numbered plaque on the dash. Total MSRP for our test vehicle was $31,580, including $850 destination charge. That includes $595 for the Sport appearance group, $465 for tow package, $1,170 for 5-speed automatic transmission, $50 for 3.92:1 axle ratio, $995 for Hemi engine, $950 for 6-CD changer, $895 for 20-inch wheels and $245 for bedliner. Those are a lot of extras to support the Rumble Bee package.
Otherwise the Rumble Bee—you have no idea how hard it is to write that name without cringing—is a spirited half-ton with a 345-horsepower Hemi under the phony hood scoop. As a mechanical exercise, the truck itself is wonderful but it’s nothing different than a regular cab, short bed Ram 1500 with a mid-level Sport trim and the Hemi option. This truck just has a lot of tawdry makeup that thankfully is only skin deep. Someone at Dodge had the insight in not allowing the MBA interns near the hardware. All the refinement, power, convenience and comfort built into the latest generation Ram pickup comes through when driving this truck. All you need are sunglasses and a hat so no one recognizes you behind the wheel.
Normally I could let this truck by with a short review that says the Rumble Bee is what it is: a bad stab at retro styling that costs too much. But this truck has implications beyond its mutilated theme and sad execution. I’m wondering if Dodge lost its golden touch with special editions? The team was so hot that I didn’t think Dodge would ever come up short on ingenuity, clever thinking and risk taking. My main fear is that a similar marketing team will be empowered to resurrect a signature pickup from the past that truly has heartfelt meaning with Dodge truck faithful. Super Bee was a car, so truck guys can’t get too worked up over the shallow results. But what if the same mentality was applied to the Li’l Red Truck? Would it be called Big Blue Express? Would there be plastic body accents instead of hand-finished oak? Would there be white decals instead of gold leaf lettering?
In its vault, Dodge has one of the coolest, most original pickup names in the history of motoring: Warlock. I’ve salivated at the thought of Dodge designing a truck around a modern Ram with inspiration from this glorious Adult Toy of the ‘70s. But Dodge must also realize that there are not limitless possibilities in retro styling. The effort must be inspired, focused and always respectful to the heritage of the name and vehicle. Somewhere this guidance was lost in the Rumble Bee.
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