IT’S EVERY car guy’s dream to find that ultra-rare automotive gem hidden away in a barn or shed and bring it into the light of day. Generally the rarer the better. However, when the car is something iconic, like this one-of-503 Dodge Daytona, that’s when things get crazy.
Charlie Lyons from Charlie’s Classic Cars in Alabama was on the hunt for a 1970 Chevelle with a big-block LS6 when he got wind of a couple of winged Mopars in the area. One was a Plymouth Superbird that had been repaired with Road Runner parts, but the other was a Dodge Charger Daytona.
Both the Superbird and the Daytona are high on anyone’s wishlist when it comes to American muscle due to their aerodynamic nosecones and sky-high rear wings. They were part of Dodge and Plymouth’s plan to rule the NASCAR circuits in 1969 and 1970, but they ended up being too successful and NASCAR mandated that the cars would need to run smaller five-litre engines if they were to compete beyond 1970.
Dodge only had to make 500 Daytonas in 1969 for homologation and eventually 503 were built, but NASCAR changed the rules for the 1970 season, which meant that Plymouth would need to build 1920 Superbirds if they intended to compete. This proved to be a hard sell for Plymouth, and some languished in lots for a long time. Some dealers even removed the wings and nose cones from the ostentatious machines to sell them as regular Road Runners.
In the case of this particular Daytona, Charlie approached the owner with an offer to buy the car – which was sitting in a hay shed – but the owner wasn’t looking to sell. Forever hopeful, Charlie left his number with the owner and sent him text messages every few weeks to keep the idea going. Finally, the owner texted Charlie; he had decided to sell the car and he gave Charlie first option.
Just how much the Daytona cost is a secret, but it’s rumoured to be in the low-six-figure range. That’s a lot of money for a car that needs a full resto, but with the prices of ‘winged cars’ always going up it’s a safe bet that someday the car will be worth more down the track.
Allegedly it was bought new by a local judge for his wife to drive around, before it went back to the Dodge dealership it was bought from. The second owner is the one Charlie bought it from, who picked it up for just $1800 in 1974 when gas-guzzling high-horsepower machines like this were on the nose for most people, and he had the flames added to the front.
Daytona buyers only had two options when it came to engines: the 375hp 440ci base model, or the legendary 425hp 426ci Hemi. Only 70 Daytonas got the Hemi option, but even so, this car with its numbers-matching 440ci, 727 Torqueflite and bucket seat/console combo and Charger Red paint is a very desirable machine. Especially with just 20,553 miles on the clock.
Which makes us wonder why Charlie would turn around and sell the car at Mecum Auctions three months later. The car garnered plenty of interest and its estimated value was put at $180,000, but when the auction was finished the car sold for just $90,000, supposedly shy of Charlie’s purchase price. Probably not the investment he was looking for.
The buyer was Jim Norman from Tampa, Florida. He was put off by the estimated sale price, and then was ecstatic when the car sold for well under his $100K budget. He reportedly plans to preserve the car as it is.
What do you guys think? Should it be left in this condition or restored to its former glory? And do you think it’s worth $90,000? Leave a comment below.
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Street Machine is the bible of Aussie modified auto culture, celebrating wild muscle cars, customs and hot rods – and the incredible humans who create them.
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