503—this is the number of 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona street cars built back in the day. As for how many of those machines survived, nobody can tell. Besides, how would you come up with a number that doesn’t change over time? For one, some of the winged warriors we lost along the way may come back from the dead one day. And a recent barn clean-up delivers the perfect example of why the emphasis falls on may here.
The barn we’re talking about can be found in Missouri. Starting from the mid-2000s and until recently, the structure housed a couple of classic Mopars, among which we have the two and a half Daytonas mentioned in the title.
All of these aero cars had been neglected for decades before even reaching the said shelter and we’ll tell you a little bit about each vehicle’s past and, of course, their future.
The half-a-Daytona (blue car)
The Daytonas were documented by Ryan Brutt aka The Auto Archeologist, who’s seen more winged cars (Daytonas and Plymouth Superbirds) than most of us. And, since you probably have questions, we’ll kick things off with the Blue car. Its half-a-Daytona nickname is owed to the fact that this is a second-generation Dodge Charger with Daytona parts and not a genuine aero car.
However, after the barn got cleared, the NASCAR-bred nose cone, rear wing, and some other OG bits got sold (this is where the deets end), so it seems the machine that used to hold them together returned to its regular classic Charger shape, not that it would be a bad thing.
This 1969 Charger Daytona was ruined by a Texas fire (the… crispy one)
From this point on, we’re talking about original Daytonas. However, it can be difficult to use that label with ease when looking at the fully torched remains of (we’ll call it) Daytona #2 from the said garage.
This Dodge was destroyed by a fire over in Texas. However, and this is one odd silver lining, its previous owner decided to not scrap the thing, turning it into a “fire pit” instead.
Even so, a gentleman named Tom, who has the car and also used to own the next one, has apparently gathered the parts needed to pull a Phoenix as Graveyard Carz did when reviving this garage fire-consumed 1971 Plymouth HEMI Cuda. Hey, we’ve seen Daytona builders breaking the internet while starting with extremely few original parts, as is the case with Wally Elder’s Daytona Pro Street drag racer, a build that reportedly kicked off with just a genuine roof.
And, as we cross our fingers for that torched Daytona to be revived, we’ll move on to a winged warrior whose fate has already taken a turn for the better.
A ’69 Charger Daytona that’s been given the runs-and-drives revival treatment (orange car)
It’s no secret that you don’t buy one of these cars if you love to play by the rules. And this non-conf way can sometime spell trouble for the vehicle. Case in point with the life of the third ’69 Charger Daytona we’re discussing—the vehicle spent years in the hands of a guy from Missouri, who decided the Dodge needed a custom treatment before selling the car around 2005.
Sure, adding air conditioning seemed natural, while we’re not ones to get baffled by a pair of longitudinal white stripes on a Daytona. Heck, we may say the same about the DIY-looking chin spoiler. But why would you reverse the front wheel scoops?
For the record, the said aero elements played quite an important role on the NASCAR record-setter that was the original racing version (first to hit 200 mph on a closed course).
The scoops were officially presented as a means to create extra clearance for the wheels. However, their main purpose was to extract air from the front wheel wells and thus help cut drag. Nowadays, we have factory road cars with such features (e.g., Porsche 911 GT3 RS), but the feature remained secret for a while and gave the Mopar people an advantage on those banked ovals.
Regardless, the Charger Daytona was pulled from the barn and sold to somebody in New York. The buyer decided to restore the car as a gift for his father, albeit while keeping the patina intact—finally, something we can get 100% excited for!
PS: while we’re discussing winged warriors covered by The Auto Archeologist, he’ll also be delivering updates on the revival of the 1970 Plymouth Superbird that got flooded by Hurricane Ian back in late September, with the restoration process having already begun.