1969 Dodge Hemi Daytona

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In the mid-Sixties Chrysler was losing more and more races to the likes of Ford and they felt it was time to do something about it. These were the days of all-out performance. Automakers deployed teams of engineers, drivers, and mechanics to devise technical advantages and finesse the rules wherever they could. Perhaps the most egregious example would be Chrysler’s creation of the second generation Hemi engine and then putting it into the wildest performance cars ever offered to the general public – the 1969 Dodge Hemi Charger Daytona (and shortly thereafter its cousin the 1970 Plymouth Roadrunner Superbird). They were the most aerodynamic cars of their time. Born out of the Dodge Charger 500's dismal failures at NASCAR’s super speedways, the Hemi Charger Daytona was built with pure performance in mind. Boasting over-the-top styling and race car power, it’s no wonder this car still occupies a unique and fascinating slot in the history of both NASCAR and American muscle cars in general. Designed to win on NASCAR’s high-speed ovals, they weren’t very popular among showroom customers of the time because of their extreme looks but are now considered in the top tier among collectible American muscle cars.

The Dodge Charger Daytona featured unique functional body modifications including a 23' tall stabilizer wing mounted on the rear deck, a sheet-metal nose cone that replaced the traditional upright front grille, a flush rear backlight, model-specific front fenders and hood, stainless steel A-pillar covers and fender mounted brake cooling scoops and heavy-duty suspension and brake setup. It was equipped with a 440 CID Magnum engine as standard; of course, the hottest models were fitted with the optional Hemi. Only 70 of the 503 Daytonas carried the Hemi. It was the undisputed king of the hill, a 426 cubic-inch V8 rated at 425 hp and 490 lb-ft. of torque. The engine was so monstrously powerful that extra reinforcement had to be built into the chassis and engine mounts so it didn't shake itself loose and tear the car apart. It featured a drag coefficient of just 0.28, better than most cars produced in the 1990s. In 1969 at Talladega, a Hemi-equipped Charger Daytona with Buddy Baker at the wheel eclipsed 200 mph.

The "Winged Warriors", as the “aero” cars were affectionately known, did not compete long in NASCAR's top Cup series, racing competitively - and dominating - for about a season and a half. Because of their exceptional speed and performance, NASCAR subsequently changed the rule book, effectively banning all of the four manufacturers' aero cars from competition by the end of 1970. But their radical appearance, instant success on the track, and the sheer audacity of the project produced an enduring and unforgettable legacy. Unfortunately as thrilling as the Hemi Charger Daytona and Superbird were on the racetrack, it was not reflected on the sales charts, as they were homologation specials few people wanted to live with every day. When NASCAR shut down the winged wonders before the 1971 season many in the racing world doubted any manufacturer could ever be so daring again.

At the dealership the cars were priced around $4,000 fitted with either the 440 or the Hemi engine, with the top speed of the Hemi in the neighborhood of 180 mph, almost unbeatable in a production car. Chrysler built 503 Charger Daytonas. Of those 503 that were built, a precious 70 had the legendary Hemi under the hood, and of those 70 Hemi cars just 20 were equipped with a 4-speed manual.

This timeless '69 Hemi Charger Daytona is one of the twenty produced with the 4 speed. It's finished in the factory Bright Red color with a black Bumblebee stripe, Goodyear Polyglas redline tires, power front disc brakes and the Track Pak Dana 60 Sure Grip rear end. It has a black interior with bucket seats and wood grain-trimmed center console and a wood-rimmed Sport steering.

The car was sold by Mecum Auctions at their Kissimme Auction in 2016.

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Engine 7 liter V8 Weight --
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from Dodge Press Release
  • 1 of 20 Hemi 4-Speed Daytonas produced
  • R4 Charger Red with Black interior
  • 426/425 HP Hemi V-8
  • 4-speed transmission
  • Two 4-barrel carburetors
  • A33 Dana 60 Track Pack
  • Power front disc brakes
  • Bucket seats with woodgrain console
  • Chrome roof trip moldings
  • Rallye instrument cluster
  • Wood-rimmed sport steering wheel
  • A01 light group
  • Solid State AM radio
  • Goodyear Polyglas Redline tires

Detroit’s longstanding fascination with power reached a new plateau in the early postwar years as manufacturers made the OHV pushrod V-8 the engine of choice for those with a need for speed. As demand grew for increasing power, carmakers continued to follow the basic premise that increased displacement was the simplest formula for higher speeds, a philosophy that for years drove the competition in NASCAR to new heights, seemingly on a weekly basis. By the mid-‘60s it was becoming evident that while power was at an all-time high, NASCAR stockers were reaching their aerodynamic limits. A number of dramatic accidents were the result of cars lifting at speed, suddenly robbing the driver of control. Lowering the front end helped keep the cars on the track, but it did not address the basic problem of dangerously poor aerodynamics. The first notable attempt at improving high-speed penetration was Dodge’s 1969 Charger 500, which was revealed to the press in June 1968. By February 1969, Ford and Mercury had responded with the Torino Talladega and Cyclone Spoiler, with LeeRoy Yarborough in a Spoiler slipping by Charlie Glotzbach’s Charger 500 to win the season-opening Daytona 500.

With a deficit of 70 to 80 horsepower compared to Ford’s 427 and Boss 429, Chrysler’s formerly dominant 426 Hemi was showing its age. NASCAR’s announcement of a new limit of 366 cubic inches for 1971 would make the Hemi obsolete. Dodge’s aggressively competitive general manager Bob McCurry responded by ordering a crash-development program to make the Charger as slippery as possible. Running under Hemi power, a Charger Daytona immediately laid claim to the fastest stock car in the world, laying down a qualifying run at 199.985 MPH in practice for its inaugural race at Talladega. From then through the following year, Daytonas won 45 of the next 59 races. On March 24, 1970 at Talladega, Buddy Baker became the first NASCAR driver to officially break the 200 MPH barrier on a closed course, piloting the Chrysler Engineering #88 Daytona to a timed speed of 200.447 MPH.

The Daytona’s outlandish appearance reflected McCurry’s take-no-prisoners attitude toward the competition. The Charger 500’s blunt grille was replaced with an 18-inch wedge-shaped nose that sliced through the air with minimal resistance, and a lower front spoiler curtailed airflow under the car. The Daytona employed the same flush rear fastback window as the 500 to smooth airflow over the rear of the car, and the high rear wing and deep uprights added rear downforce and directional stability to achieve a theretofore unheard-of drag coefficient of just .28. The modifications transformed the Daytona at high speed, prompting the normally low-keyed Charlie Glotzbach to wax ecstatic in the automotive press: “It’s sorta like a whole new world,” he commented. “There’s no comparison to what other cars handle like…overall it’s the safest race car I ever drove. I honestly think that any average citizen could go out and drive the Daytona around Talladega at 180 miles per hour with no problem at all.”

Creative Industries of Detroit, Inc. completed just over the 500 Daytonas required for homologation by NASCAR, only 70 of which were equipped with the 426/425 HP Hemi engine. This well-equipped 1969 Charger Daytona is one of only 20 built combining the dual 4-barrel Hemi engine with the Hurst Pistol Grip-shifted heavy-duty 4-speed manual transmission. Finished in R4 Bright Red with a Black bumblebee stripe, chromed aero window trim and Goodyear Polyglas redline tires, it is further optioned with power front disc brakes and the A33 Track Pak incorporating a Dana 60 Sure Grip rear end. The car’s black interior is fully appointed with bucket seats and woodgrain-trimmed center console, wood-rimmed Sport steering wheel, Rallye instrument cluster, Solid State AM radio and A01 light group. After years as a pinnacle piece in the Brett Torino collection, this Hemi 4-speed Winged Warrior presents as one of the most desirable Aero Mopars in existence.