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A Very Special Dodge Daytona 500

601 OK, it looks like I've gone and done it again. Chris Hafner wrote about the Capri, I did the Capri II. He did the Plymouth Superbird, now here I am with the Dodge Daytona 500. But hey, for inspiration, I get it where I can.

To some MOPAR (MOtor PARts) fans, both of these cars are known as aero cars, and they are also corporate cousins of each other.

Of course, the Plymouth Superbird was only made for 1970 and the Dodge Daytona 500's year was 1969. Each car was made for one model year so that the car could compete in NASCAR races with the pointed nose and rear wing/spoiler, both designed by NASA. These aerodynamic additions and others (please note the flush rear window) to the car body gave it quite an advantage over lesser rounded cars of this vintage. The rear wing was very sturdy--there are even photos of a man sitting on top of it just to prove its rigidity.

But what makes this particular car so special is not its condition or rarity. Nope, it's special because it is one of only two Dodge Daytona 500s left on the planet that are still in the possession of their original owners.

598 Now let's fast forward 40 years, from 1969 to Father's Day, 2009, at the Museum of Transportation in St. Louis, Missouri. The museum has a small but notable collection of cars, including the only running Chrysler Turbine Car in a private collection, as well as Bobby Darin's 1960 DiDia Dream Car. Admission was free that day, but the cold drinks weren't--and it was sweltering outside!

Mr. Hoehn (I won't give his full name here for privacy purposes) was more than glad to show us around his car, answer any questions we had, and pose for the camera with his car for this post. He even offered to drop the hood for the photos, but I didn't want to put him to the trouble. I do wish that the 440-cubic-inch Magnum had shown up better in the picture, though. My bad.

He said that the third surviving original Daytona 500 owner had recently passed, leaving him and one other to continue this proud tradition. I don't know who the other original owner is, but it sure would be nice to get these cars and folks together.

600 Mr. Hoehn also pointed out that it's the only Daytona 500 that has a factory-installed locking gas cap. And at $4.40, that was surely a bargain, even then.

Virtually everything about the car was original, though it had been repainted with the original colors. He showed us how the gas cap worked, as it took a separate key than the one used to start the car.

He went over the history of his car, how he found tires for it, how he painstakingly cares for it.

These cars made movie history, too. In Joe Dirt, a ratty Daytona 500 was the ride of choice for David Spade's character. The 1969 Charger (less the Daytona 500 package) was also the base car for the General Lee of The Dukes of Hazzard TV and movie fame.

599 This gentleman must have seen the future, as he saved the original window sticker, dealer's bill of sale, and other papers.

All were proudly displayed in a glass case next to the car. Don't these prices look ridiculously low by 2010's numbers! I wish the delivery charge on a new car was $62. A total sticker price of $4,638.20? That's close to the sales tax today on a new top-end Dodge Challenger here in Tennessee.

I don't know if I could own the same car for more than 40 years, but I guess I could if it was a special one like this. A Daytona 500 will always raise eyebrows, as they have since they were new. And thanks to meticulous preservation efforts like the one here, we'll have great and special ones around for a very long time to come.

Here's to you, Mr. Hoehn!

--That Car Guy (Chuck)

Thanks to Wikipedia for some technical advice on these aero cars. I took the photos on the St. Louis Museum of Transportation grounds.


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Nice find! Few corrections: It is a Dodge Daytona, not a 500. A dodge charger 500 was a regular B-body charger, but with flush mounted rear glass, and a grill that was also flush, to help with the aero problems of the iconic 68-70 charger. It was basically a failure, hence the introduction of the Daytona. The Daytona was an evolution of the 500, with a nosecone, and a huge wing to provide a lot of downforce (I forget how much).

The "aero" nose and wing were real car-of-the-future stuff back then. I'm glad to see this one in such gloriously original condition, in the possession of its original owner.

Cookie, since Daytonas are so rare, desirable, and $$$, it's hard to find one NOT in original condition. :P

I know that there's no way to turn back the clock, but it's kinda sad when one notices that as time passes, there's fewer original-owner machines out there (original-owner magazine specials notwithstanding), a sobering reminder of how little time we have on this earth and how devious (to put it mildly) life is.
I'm sure that people back in the '60s and '70s saw how few original owners were left on pre-war, (maybe even brass-era!) classics. Now it's happening today with cars from the 60s and 70s.

Those with a couple of decades under their belts, how did it feel? Am I alone in this sobering experience?

I was mentioning Hafner's 1986 Audi to some people last week and they were like "That's a vintage car??" until I pointed out that we're as far away from the 1980s now as the '60s were in the 1980s.

I had the same thought, Anthony - 1986 doesn't seem that long ago, but if you talk to any repair shop or parts store, or anybody who has ever worked for a car manufacturer, the pity that rolls off of them for anybody who would dare to own such an old car is almost palpable.

And here I was feeling like a wuss for not buying a 1970s Fiat.

The F70x14 tire size translates to a metric 215/70B14 tire. Can you imagine that today on a 375 hp car? Awsome.

Obligatory plug for the history of these cars:

The irony is that they didn't sell well at the time, in part because they were almost impossible to insure. Toward the end of the model run, you could pick up leftovers for $3,000 or so.

Florissant Dodge on Lindbergh! Thats cool, I used to work near there. Awesome car.

The wing actually provided the same downforce whatever height it was at, but those bean counters at Chrysler corp got in the way. In order to use the same trunklid and save on costs, they chose to raise the wing so the trunk could be opened!

I happen to have the owner information of the other only original Daytona owner.

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