One of the most sought-after Mopars cars on the planet—the fully documented 31,000-mile 1969 Dodge Charger HEMI Daytona.
Dodge built only the 503 Charger Daytonas in 1969. That was just enough to satisfy the NASCAR mandate that required Detroit automakers to produce at least 500 specialty vehicles before they were accepted on the Grand National circuit. The goal of the minimum production scheme, known as “homogeneity,” was to maintain “stock” in motor racing. NASCAR has learned that its fans need to relate to what they saw wrap the track or lose interest. Fan attraction and relevance to the vehicle was at the heart of the “Race on Sunday, Sell on Monday” concept.
For the Charger Daytona, Dodge has partnered with Creative Industries, an auto builder in eastern Detroit, to convert nearly-completed 1969 Charger R/Ts into winged warriors. But of those 503 Daytonas, the vast majority (433 cars) were powered by the base 440 Magnum. With its single-cylinder four-cylinder carburetor and wedge-type combustion chambers, the 375-hp 440 was Dodge’s primary street weapon during the era of powerful cars. But the NASCAR champion was not. This task falls to the 426 HEMI, of which only 70 were installed in the 1969 Charger Daytons.
The Pristine Charger Daytona shown here is one of those very rare breeds. With a 727 TorqueFlite transmission and a matching-numbered Street HEMI engine, the presence of this car legitimizes NASCAR’s multi-million dollar program. Without the sale of that same Charger and its siblings, drivers like Bobby Isaacs, Buddy Baker, James Hilton, Richard Brickhouse, Bobby Allison, Neil Castles and others couldn’t establish their reputations—or that of HEMI Daytonas who piloted over 30 major national events in NASCAR, Plus many ARCA and USAC races.
Of the 70 HEMI-powered Daytonas built in 1969, 48 were equipped with the TorqueFlite automatic transmission shown in this beautiful and documented example. Sold new by Metro Dodge in Kansas City, Missouri, it included papers showing it was delivered to the dealer on August 29, 1969—just 16 days before NASCAR’s official appearance at Daytona at the Talladega 500 on September 14, 1969. The Charger Daytona called for all The 503 cars before the Talladega race or NASCAR won’t let them compete. And remember, Dodge didn’t even announce the Daytona Limited Edition until April 15, 1969 (a copy of the official announcement brochure came with the car). But Creative Industries got the job done and built all 503 units in a three-month window.
This example was initially built on June 3, 1969, at Dodge’s Hamtramck, Michigan, mega-factory as a HEMI Orange Charger R/T station minus some components that will be replaced during conversion. In keeping with plan, it was then trucked for nearly six miles to Creative Industries’ conversion facility in eastern Detroit, a convenience store capable of handling only 20 or so cars a day. A mountable rear window, aluminum boot spoiler, sheet metal nose cone, chrome A-pillar molding caps, and air hood scoops were all fitted to the top of the fenders.
The HEMI Daytona has been repainted once in its life with high-quality repainting, and has been validated by the original build sheet and trim mark because she was born wearing a V2 HEMI Orange with a C6X black wing and vibrant interior. The HEMI orange body color is applied to approximately 24 percent of the 1969 Daytona Charger fleet, a constant reminder of the 425-horsepower HEMI engine under the hood. Inside, the original furnishings, equipment and finishes are preserved, and the solid, rust-free nature of the body panels and interior structures speaks to a style of care and preservation among the few owners who were fortunate enough to hold the title.
The Born with HEMI is stock, complete with a high-flow cast iron exhaust manifold and a 2-1/2″ H pipe exhaust system. It even has the correct resonators located on either side of the gas tank. Built like an R/T, a massive 11-inch hand drum brakes appear at every corner, while power steering relieves arm fatigue when parking.
Records show that Dodge lost nearly $1,500 per vehicle in the process of converting 503 Chargers into NASCAR homologation offerings in 1969. The HEMI Charger Daytona is the most desirable Dodge B body in existence.