Unrestored, 20,000-Mile 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona Reveals Clues to Hurried Design & Build

Unrestored, 20,000-Mile 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona Reveals Clues to Hurried Design & Build

Velocity outlined the 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona, from its mission to push quicker round NASCAR ovals to its accelerated improvement course of and much more speedy manufacturing. It was meant to hit the streets and NASCAR tracks for 1970, however the Charger 500’s failure early within the 1969 racing season to ship a aggressive edge prompted Dodge to pull forward the Daytona program. Regardless of the reworked, flush rear window, and flush nostril (that includes the grille and headlamps from a 1968 Coronet), the Charger 500 was nonetheless uncomfortably squirrely at velocity. An excessive amount of carry pulled up on the tires, countermanding drivers’ efforts at management and dealing towards their self-preservation intuition.

The Daytona’s drag-reducing nostril cone and 23-inch-tall rear wing did the trick, for probably the most half. The package deal considerably lowered carry and impressed the arrogance to hold the pedal to the metallic on the straights. The gauntlet was formally thrown down when a Daytona, pushed by Richard Brickhouse, gained the primary race it entered, which occurred to be the primary race ever at Talladega, in September 1969. Buddy Baker returned to the monitor a number of months later for a check session and blasted a record-setting common velocity of 200.447 mph. The wing labored.

Among the many paperwork Peter Swainson obtained when he purchased the Charger Daytona from the household of its unique proprietor, Joseph Graszler, have been these notes. Taken in 1975, they could point out that Graszler was entertaining promoting the automotive. They present the mileage at 20,904 and a callout that there have been no dents within the nostril cone. It additionally exhibits a “for sale” worth of $three,500.

The manufacturing automobiles NASCAR required for homologation have been thrown collectively simply as shortly as Baker’s blistering tempo, however not precisely with exemplary consideration to element.

Detroit-based Artistic Industries, which had an extended historical past of constructing present automobiles and small-run productions, was given the unenviable process of hand-assembling 500 of the automobiles in the course of the summer time of 1969. An examination of Peter Swainson’s unrestored instance underscores the truth of the deadline, with examples entrance to rear of a hurried course of.

Costly, Ungainly

The automotive was initially bought by Joseph Graszler, of Phoenix, who traded a 1969 Street Runner for it at Peagler’s Dodge Metropolis. The sale of the Daytona, which has a Might 29, 1969, construct date, didn’t happen till August 12, 1970. That claims every thing concerning the problem sellers confronted with the costly, ungainly wing automobiles, which carried an almost 25 % worth premium over a “regular” Charger.

Graszler had embraced the automotive’s form-follows-function eccentricity and was an early member of the Winged Warriors fanatic membership when it was shaped within the mid-1970s. He additionally frequented the dragstrip with it within the early days and put in the standard aftermarket elements of the day, together with headers, an aluminum consumption manifold, and extra.

Regardless of his obvious love for the Daytona, Graszler didn’t drive it fairly often. It exhibits solely 20,907 miles, and the license plate tabs expired in 1976. Notes from a fellow fanatic’s examination of the automotive in November 1975 report its mileage at 20,904. That’s a mere three miles added to the clock in almost 45 years!

Word 50 years of mud on the 440 Magnum’s unique crinkle-finish air cleaner. Whereas Graszler had put in some aftermarket elements, he stored the manufacturing unit gear, so the engine nonetheless has the unique “2-69” date-coded spark-plug wires.

Peter Swainson acquired the automotive in early 2018 from Graszler’s nephews, John and Paul Becker, who had taken possession of it after his dying. Swainson says, “It’s unfortunate Mr. Graszler isn’t with us any longer to ask more about his ownership experience.”

Swainson is an Alberta-based enterprise proprietor with two different wing automobiles and a slew of further Mopars in his assortment. “These cars represent a special time in history for muscle cars and racing, and preserving this one is something I take seriously.”

Together with the automotive, Swainson’s buy included loads of further elements and paperwork. Graszler had stored all of it, from the unique date-coded spark-plug wires to all the different engine elements swapped for the aftermarket elements. All the unique gear is on the automotive in the present day, together with the trade-in wheels and tires.

Manufacturing unit markings on the right-hand valve cowl look solely days previous. One cause they’re so nicely preserved is the unique valve covers have been eliminated and saved early within the automotive’s life.

The unique paperwork included the supplier’s buy settlement, which indicated that the 440/four-speed/Monitor Pack–outfitted Daytona initially got here with wheel covers. Graszler had the vendor swap over the Magnum 500 wheels from his Street Runner trade-in. The manufacturing unit Monitor Pack added, amongst different issues, the beefy Dana 9 three/Four-inch axle with three.54 gears.

Swainson is planning a full restoration of the low-mileage automotive. It will have been tempting to depart it unrestored, however it’s maybe a bit of too uncooked to depart unattended. Taking good care of one or two of its wants would begin the snowball rising to an entire re-do.

Unrestored Glory

Detroit-area Mopar guru and racer Dave Dudek will oversee the resto. Earlier than he tore into it, we received the prospect to photograph the automotive in its unrestored glory. It revealed wonderful particulars and, frankly, flaws that got here with a rapid-fire manufacturing schedule.

“They were on a mission to build the cars within the fast deadline,” says Dudek about Artistic Industries. “The cars were assembled quickly, and more than a few corners were cut to do it.”

The R/T-based inside featured the Rallye gauge package deal, with 4 supporting gauges mounted to the proper of a 150-mph speedometer. To the left of the speedo was a “tick-tock tach,” with an electrical clock within the middle of the rev counter. The seams are cut up on the unique vinyl driver’s seat, however the unique door panels have held up nicely during the last 50 years.

These corners included the prep work on a number of the distinctive sheetmetal elements. There’s unique paint flaking off the galvanized filler panel legs hooked up to the decrease entrance edges of the entrance fenders, elements distinctive to the Daytona. It seems that no primer was used prior to portray, simply B5 Blue over naked metal. In truth, a producer ink stamp on one of many panels is seen now that the paint has flaked off. Getting paint to stick to the galvanized metallic was notoriously troublesome, and many homeowners returned to the dealership for paintwork after journeys via the carwash.

Certainly, the entire entrance finish of the Daytona is exclusive. Artistic Industries didn’t merely screw on the nostril cone—the 1969 Charger’s sheetmetal made that inconceivable. It’s not precisely pull-ahead 1970 Charger metallic, both, though it’s fairly clear that the hoods have been early-run 1970 elements. Evaluating photographs of ordinary 1969 and 1970 Chargers with the Daytona demonstrates vital variations within the fenders.

So, did Dodge have distinctive stampings for the limited-run Daytona? The reply is a agency in all probability, in accordance to skilled Gene Lewis. “They were likely based on the 1970 Charger parts and modified. Chrysler’s own Group Release documentation references the parts as being manufactured or stamped without holes for the side marker lights. You can modify regular 1970 fenders to match pretty easily.”

The lengthy Hurst shifter was a part of the Monitor Pack that included the A833 four-speed transmission. This automotive is certainly one of solely 139 440/four-speed Daytona fashions.

What’s not clear is whether or not the fenders have been modified with the decrease valence legs prior to being shipped to Artistic Industries or on the manufacturing website. Regardless, they’re distinctive and illustrate the depth of the manufacturing course of.

Another factor concerning the entrance fenders: They featured mesh-covered holes beneath the plastic, rearward-facing vents. Dodge stated in 1969 the holes have been meant to present tire clearance for the race automobiles, in order that they have been mimicked to the letter on the manufacturing fashions to guarantee no hang-ups in the course of the homologation course of. The manufacturing Plymouth Superbird had comparable scoops on its entrance fenders, however no holes. Apparently, NASCAR wasn’t that choosy.

That’s plenty of element for simply the front-end sheetmetal on the Daytona, and let’s not overlook the flush rear window plug and rear wing, which was anchored with metal help legs within the trunk. There was quite a bit happening to produce the automobiles and do them so shortly.

The peeling layers of this unrestored instance present a singular, archeological examination of the construct course of and a glimpse into an period of Detroit’s motorsports-driven advertising that’s simply not the identical half a century later. The wing labored, and issues have been by no means the identical after it.

At a Look

1969 Charger Daytona
Owned by: Peter Swainson
Restored by: Unrestored
Engine: 440ci/375hp Magnum V-Eight
Transmission: A833 Four-speed guide
Rearend: Dana 60 with three.54 gears and Positive Grip
Inside: White vinyl bucket seat
Wheels: 14×5.5 Street Wheels (Magnum 500)
Tires: G70-14 nylon ply
Particular elements: Daytona package deal, together with distinctive entrance finish and rear wing; Monitor Pack drivetrain

In a Rush

The Daytona’s unrestored situation reveals proof of its rushed construct, specifically less-than-stellar meeting high quality.

Peeling paint on the entrance fender legs speaks to a scarcity of primer earlier than portray, together with clearly seen ink stamps on the sheetmetal. Prep work was minimal.Primer is seen on the rear edges of the hood and in some areas of its underside, indicating that the hood was solely sprayed in a single course and never utterly coated. It was the identical for the trunk lid on this automotive.The flush rear window, laid at 28 levels as an alternative of the usual Charger’s 45-degree again glass, helped scale back raise and was launched on the Charger 500 mannequin. An in depth take a look at the higher nook of this instance exhibits witness strains of the plug’s set up.

Daytona Velocity Secrets and techniques

The metal nostril cone offered a dramatic discount in aero raise, pushing down the Daytona’s coefficient of drag to a reported zero.29, which is best than most modern automobiles. The retractable headlamp housings are the one wing-car elements shared with the Plymouth Superbird.The 23-inch-tall rear wing was the opposite a part of the equation that alieved the lift-induced high-speed management points and helped push the Daytona race automotive to 200 mph in 1970. The wing itself was painted black or white, whereas the tail stripe with the “DAYTONA” lettering was a decal.Plastic entrance fender scoops coated holes designed to mimic these on race automobiles that Dodge stated have been for tire clearance. There’s proof they have been truly an aero-enhancing help that allowed underbody air to exit over the automotive somewhat than be pressured underneath it. Fifty years later, automobiles such because the Camaro ZL1 make use of hood vents for the exact same cause.

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