It is our plan to bring you an update on this Project Daytona every Monday morning until the Project is complete. Please check back every week and learn more about this fabulous project.
Before we dig deeper into the restoration of our specific Daytona we feel it is necessary to give you an overview of what the 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona really is. Most of you are at least somewhat familiar with the big winged cars from MOPAR. The 1970 Plymouth Superbird and the lesser known 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona are arguably the wildest production cars to ever come out of Detroit. The Daytona is by far the rarest of the two cars with only 503 having ever been built.
Before NASCAR became today’s highly regulated, nearly spec racing series, the race cars initially originated from actual factory built production cars. In the 1960s NASCAR racing was all about stock cars; real stock cars built from cars you could buy at your local dealer. If you raced in NASCAR during the early years you started with a factory built machine and converted it into a race car. Towards the end of this period lesser funded teams still might go to the local dealer and purchase a new car to convert to a race car but most race teams simply received a “body in white” from the factory. This was a bare factory body without a vehicle identification number or any street required components. The teams would then build it up into a race car. Still other teams might take last year’s race car, remove all the exterior sheet metal and install the current year’s skin. In a few years all the race cars would be, like todays, expertly assembled from scratch using only a few “stock” components.
This is the time of the Daytona and Superbird. The body was basically a stock factory piece but was built with pure race car components.
During the 60s engines grew bigger and bigger. If a race team needed to go faster than the competition they did it through developing bigger and more powerful engines. By the late 60s this horsepower race was reaching its limits and by necessity a new speed component was discovered at the newly built high banked super speedway oval of Daytona.
Engineers discovered that as the cars began to go faster and approached the 200 mph goal a great deal more horsepower was required for each additional mph. They rightly believed that if the cars could be more aerodynamic they would go faster with the same horsepower. As the cars went faster the drivers also found that the race cars were beginning to lift and lose traction at high speeds. More down force and better aerodynamics led to the development of wings and spoilers as well as the lowering of the race cars.
The real Aero Battles between Ford and Chrysler Corporations became a War in 1968. In that year Ford had fired the first deadly volley with its new for 1968 Sports Roof Ford Torino and Mercury Cyclone (If you would like to know more about these cars please go to www.TalladegaSpoilerRegistry.com). These factory designed and built fastback family cars certainly looked at home on the high banked speedways and their record for wins in 1968 led to the Ford Team of David Pearson winning the 1968 NASCAR Championship. The Mopar fans had little to cheer about.
Dodge had been use to dominating the NASCAR events with its 426 Hemi engines but now found itself playing second fiddle to an old 427 Ford engine in a new more aerodynamic body. In an effort to catch up Dodge brought out its own fastback Charger in 1966. It looked slippery and sleek but simply being a fastback design was not enough, the details of the design and its aerodynamics were not good.
They tried again with another new Dodge Charger released in 1968 but it too was not up to the task nor as slippery as the new Ford products. After being soundly beaten in the first aero battles on the race track in 1968 Dodge race engineers knew that their new Charger body was still going to need additional “aero help” to be competitive. The engineers soon began to work on and brag about how the new special Charger 500 would have an improved new aerodynamic nose and sloped rear window roof line to help it attain higher speeds on the new NASCAR Super Speedways such as the existing Daytona track and the soon to open Talladega track in Alabama.
MOPAR engineers and fans were convinced the new 1969 Charger 500 would easily surpass the speed of the year old Ford products.