This is precisely what attracted Jay Cox to the Daytona series. "The fact that these are the cars that they raced," the Edmond, Oklahoma, entrepreneur told us enthusiastically. "That makes it a car that is so interesting as a collectable and worthy of bringing back to 100 percent factory original."
This is ironic because, when new, the cars were definitely not popular. They just looked so odd on the street that it took a very special buyer for a sale. Not cheap, they were strictly built to homologate an aerodynamic Charger for NASCAR.
The very special buyer for this particular Daytona was a school teacher in New York who drove the winged creature to class. What a sight that must have been. Even more strange is the fact that he used the car for a family vacation to Florida in the summer of 1970. This trip is even more amazing today when one considers the race bred Daytona had no air conditioning, a 4-speed manual transmission, plus it was optioned with the Super Trak Pak, which included 4.10:1 gears in a Dana rearend.
Cox has always been fascinated with the Daytona's looks and racing heritage. Then, in 1994 at a Mopar HPAC show, he met Charles Self, who, according to Jay, had, "the most beautiful Daytona in existence."
Armed with a plethora of information from Self about the Daytona's unique parts, Jay went looking for his winged Charger.
Most people tend to imagine the Hemi as nirvana with the Daytona, since this was the racing engine of choice. However, Cox was less concerned about the engine and more picky about the color, which had to be Hemi Orange, and the transmission, which had to be a 4-speed.
He found his match in November of 1994 in Pennsylvania. As one might imagine, rust-free did not describe this '69 model-the mileage wasn't low either at 119,000. It looked okay as a driver, and the parts were all there, too-the critical parts that Charles Self had warned Jay about. It wasn't a Hemi, which kept the price at realistic levels.
Jay farmed the paint and body work to Professional Refinishing in Winfield, Kansas. From here, he contracted the correct detailing of the chassis and the engine compartment to none other than Roger Gibson in Scott City, Missouri. Gibson is known for his national show winning Mopar restorations and his frequent concours detailing articles in Mopar Muscle.
In true Gibson fashion, Roger restored Jay's Daytona with authentic and correct era dated parts-alternator, exhaust manifolds, window glass, headlights, spark plug wires, distributor cap, fan belts, and much more. This attention to detail paid off. At the 30th reunion for winged cars at Talladega this past October, the producers of the television show American Musclecar asked Dave Patik of Performance Car Graphics to single out the best winged car at the event for a close-up look for their cameras. Patik, who is a noted national expert on winged cars, picked Jay's '69 Hemi Orange Daytona, featured here, out of 25 Dodge Daytonas, 70 Plymouth Superbirds, and 30 Mercury Cyclones and Ford Talladegas. That's a total of 125 restorations.
Dave proceeded to go over the car for the TV show, pointing out the details, such as the blacked out front grille, that made it such an authentic restoration, plus the racing goodies (two-foot high rear spoiler, bullet nose, and more) that enabled it to plough through the wind at 200 mph.
The Daytona could be the baddest car of all time. That's what makes it so good. You might say it's bad to the last good.