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Dodge Charger Daytona

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Dodge, an American automobile brand, has produced three separate vehicles with the name Dodge Charger Daytona, all of which were modified Dodge Chargers. The name is taken from Daytona Beach, Florida, which was an early center for auto racing and still hosts the Daytona 500, one of NASCAR's premier events.

With the failure of the 1969 Dodge Charger 500 on the highbanks of the superspeedways (tracks of a mile, or more in length), the 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona was created. It was intended to be a high-performance, limited-edition version of the Dodge Charger produced in the summer of 1969 for the sole purpose of winning high profile NASCAR races. It won its first race out, the inaugural Talladega 500 in the fall, although it was a rather hollow victory as all of the top names had left the track on Saturday in a boycott of the 1969 Talladega race. Buddy Baker in the #88 Chrysler Engineering Dodge Charger Daytona was the first driver in NASCAR history to break the 200 mph mark on March 24, 1970 at Talladega. The 1969 Dodge Daytona won two races in 1969 and another four in 1970 for a total of 6. Its successor, the 1970 Plymouth Superbird, won 8 races - all in 1970. (In a bit of irony, in 1969 a Daytona won at Talladega, and a Ford Torino Talladega won at Daytona.) These compare with 29 NASCAR victories for the 1969 Ford Torino Talladega, and 8 for the 1969 Mercury Cyclone Spoiler II. The 1969 Dodge Charger 500 managed to win 22 NASCAR races over the 1969 and 1970 seasons; however, all but one of those victories came on the short tracks - several of which were still being run on dirt at the time.

One of the five famous aero-cars, the Dodge Daytona featured special body modifications that included a 23 in 0 (580 mm) stabilizer wing on the rear deck, a special sheet-metal "nose cone" that replaced the traditional upright front grille, a flush rear backlight (rear window area), a 'window cap' to cover the original Charger's recessed rear window, specific front fenders and hood that were modeled after the upcoming 1970 Charger, stainless steel A-pillar covers and fender mounted tire clearance/brake cooling scoops. The Daytona was built on the 1969 Charger's 500 trim specifications, meaning that it carried a heavy-duty suspension and brake setup and was equipped with a 440 CID Magnum engine as standard. Of special note to collectors is the optional 426 CID Hemi V8 engine, which only 70 of the 503 Daytonas carried. It had a corporate cousin in the "one year-only" 1970 Plymouth Superbird.

The "Winged Warriors", as they were affectionately known, did not compete for long in NASCAR's top Cup series. Because of their exceptional speed and performance, NASCAR subsequently changed the rule book, effectively banning all five of the Aero Cars from Dodge, Ford, Mercury, and Plymouth from competition by the end of 1970.

The Dodge Daytona is now a very rare and valuable collectible, with 440-powered Daytonas reaching into six-figure territory and 426 hemi-engined cars passing the $300,000 mark. The "Super Charger IV EL", which looked like a roadster prototype spin-off of the Charger Daytona minus the roof and spoiler, is seen as a pimp-mobile in the 1974 film Truck Turner. Actually, it was just an older Charger show car updated with a SuperBird nose.

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