1969 Dodge Charger Hemi Daytona
Fellow gear heads, we have previously discussed the rarest and most expensive Mopar known to exist. Today, I want to speak about another rare and mystical Mopar that can stir the heart of any muscle car fan, regardless of brand loyalty. This car is a legend, and just looking at it you can tell it means business. We are talking about the fabled and ultra-rare 1969 Dodge Charger Hemi Daytona.
A Tough Year For Mopar
1969 was a tough year for the folks at Dodge. The 1969 Dodge Charger 500 had failed at the track in NASCAR stock car racing. In fact, alll the Mopars were getting beaten on the track every time. On top of that, Richard Petty left them to go drive the 1969 Ford Torino 428 Cobra Jet, since the Torino was winning at the track and Dodge wasn’t. The engineers at Dodge knew they needed a silver bullet if they were ever going to win at stock car racing again. They needed something to score a few wins, and they needed it now.
Regular readers of this blog understand that back in those days, stock car racing meant you actually raced stock factory cars! Stock car racing also equated to sales on the streets, so this was sink-or-swim time for Dodge. In order to make this happen, they would have to pull a miracle out of a hat, which is exactly what they did. They went back down into the dungeon and built a raw meat eating, snarling, beast of a monster that they called the 1969 Dodge Charger Hemi Daytona.
A Legend Was Born
They knew this shiny monster would need some teeth, so they started with your choice of 2 big blocks: you could get either the 440 Magnum V8 or the venerable 426 Hemi. Dodge bet the farm on this car, so they did everything they could to make it a star at the track. They added a tall spoiler and some other race goodies, and set out to win at the track. However, due to NASCAR regulations, they had to make at least 50 of them in order for them to be considered ‘production’. 503 of these cars were made, so the regulations were met.
When they unleashed this beast to the world, heads turned. The Daytona was born, and it was angry. The Winged Warrior Daytona had a bone to pick with Ford, and they made sure to bring their best gear to do it. The folks at Dodge knew this was their last chance.
Buddy Baker drove the #88 1969 Dodge Charger Hemi Daytona during the inaugural Talladega 500. This was the first time it had ever been raced, and the ’69 Daytona not only won the race, it was the first time in NASCAR history anyone had ever broken the 200 MPH mark on the track. This happened on March 24, 1970! That was a high-water mark that many drivers had aspired to, but none had ever made before.
I don’t know about you, but the thought of going 200 MPH in a 1969 model car with no air bags, very little safety gear, very basic brakes, barely sufficient tires, and no tube chassis would make me cringe! The guys that raced back then had courage, for sure, The ’69 Daytona continued to win more races and set more records and was successful for several years. The Daytona was also part of the reason Richard Petty came back to Mopar in 1970 to drive the 1970 Plymouth Superbird, which shares many of the characteristics of the Daytona. It would not surprise me if the guys that built this car worked on the Dodge Tomahawk project too!
Dodge ended up building 503 1969 Dodge Charger Hemi Daytona cars, due to the high demand by the public after seeing the car break the record for NASCAR. Everyone wanted to own the monster that broke the 200MPH mark on the track and beat Ford. Out of the 503 made, only 70 of them were equipped with the 426 Hemi. Most of those were used up as race cars. Out of those 70 Hemi cars, only 20 of them had a 4 speed manual transmission.
Sold At Auction
One of these 426 Hemi 4 speed Daytonas sold at Mecum auctions not long ago for $900,000 USD! It is documented to have only 6,435 original miles, and is the lowest mileage time capsule Daytona known to exist. It is a very rare survivor that somehow escaped being raced to an early grave or smashed into a wall during stock car races. With so few miles, it is possible this car was raced at some point on the drag racing circuit. Either way, the Daytona Charger is a living legend, and is alive and well today in a private collection.
Maybe it will be available for auction again sometime in the future!
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