This is Part 5 of the story on our new 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona Project Car. In future Parts we will update you on the Project Car itself and the restoration process. (Start with Part 1)
Subsequently the Army family was relocated to Fort Carson (next to Colorado Springs) by US Army orders in September 1976. In late 1976 an ad was placed in the Winged Warriors Club. The following is a copy of the actual ad clipped from an old newsletter!
You will note that the ad calls out the car as an automatic even though it was originally a 4-speed. Also note the comment on having just returned from Germany.
The car was then purchased for only $1,200 in 1977 by its fourth owner who lived in Southern California. The husband and his wife flew into Colorado Springs and drove the car back to California. The new owner and family enjoyed the car immensely and it was one of the first cars registered with the Winged Warriors Car Club that was founded in 1977. The car could be found at many events and activities in Southern California until the early 1980s when it was taken into a shop for a much needed repaint. Unfortunately, during this stay the engine and transmission were stolen. Even though the car had been sanded down and primer applied the repaint was put on hold. As the years past the car was moved from storage location to storage location with little hope of restoration occurring soon. Some 30 years later the owner passed away and the car continued to sit hidden away. Everyone but the immediate family had forgotten about the car and knew nothing of its whereabouts.
As the family struggled with what to do with the car; they were not even sure the car was a real Daytona. After a brief internet search they reached out to Richard Fleener at www.LegendaryCollectorCars.com in order to verify its authenticity and approximate value. Could it be an old clone? The owner provided Richard with the VIN and he confirmed it as a real Daytona. Unfortunately, the car was so surrounded with boxes and other storage items that there was no easy way of getting to the Data Plate or Broadcast Sheet. After a number of phone conversations, Richard decided it was worth a flight from Nashville to Southern California to inspect the car first hand for condition and completeness. Although not pretty; the nose cone was damaged and sitting on the hood; all four tires were flat with two mounted on weathered aluminum wheels and two on rusty chrome wheels; the old traction bars were well beaten and the interior was filthy but the car was solid. Armed with research documents, camera and a flashlight he inspected the car and was thrilled with the rest of what he saw.
The Data Plate and Broadcast Sheet revealed that this Daytona had been undercoated at the factory which explained its rust free body and underside. Initially the current owners had insisted that it was an automatic yet the Broadcast Sheet documented it was a 4 Speed car. Which was it? One look at the interior provided the answer; there were three pedals! When the transmission was swapped the pedals had not been changed. In addition, the original Hurst 4 speed shifter was found lying on the passenger side floor.
Mr. Fleener was so impressed with what he found he immediately asked if the car was for sale. The family was very reluctant to let the car go after all these years but based on Richard’s plans for the Daytona they felt it better to sell it to a good owner than to continue to let it deteriorate in storage.
Although the purchase price was equivalent to the price of a new 2014 Dodge Challenger and it had no engine or transmission and was in need of a complete restoration, a deal was struck and a schedule to pick up the car was made. Richard returned home to TN and scheduled a return tip within 30 days. Richard drove the 4,000 mile round trip from Nashville Tennessee to Southern California, picked up the Daytona and returned home in a seven day marathon road trip by himself. Once the Daytona was in its new home in Tennessee an even more thorough inspection was completed and a plan to restore the car created.
The restoration is now underway. This rare Daytona will be returned to its original condition as it left Creative Industries back in August 1969; it will appear and drive just like it did when its first owner drove it off the new car lot at Bill Breck Dodge in 1969. Although the car will be shown its real purpose will be to again cruise the streets with Richard and Katrina Fleener on board in search of other slower cars such as the turbo Porsches to humiliate.
Soon after this series of articles started we received this comment from one of the girls in the family, Karen Blehm.
“I drove this car during high school in 1983 until my brother blew the transmission. It was a lot of fun and of the 6 kids in our familiy I was the only one allowed to drive it dailey. I can’t wait to see the car fully restored. My dad bought the car sometime in the 70’s and always wanted to have it restored. It was always garaged and still in remarkable condition upon his passing at which time my mother chose to sell the car so it could be restored the way my dad always wanted.”