A close-up of the 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona spoiler.

©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

The 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona was built by Creative Industries, the Detroit firm responsible for numerous "specials" over the years. Actual production estimates range between 501 and 507; the official factory source states 505.

They could have built more: Dealers took about 1,200 orders, and Dodge sent hurried telegrams imploring them to persuade their customers to settle for something else.

The Charger Daytona sold for about $300 more than the Charger R/T hardtop and lost between $1,000 and $1,500 per unit, which was unimportant: Its purpose was to win races.

Racing cars all received the 426 Hemi with close-ratio four-speed gearbox and Hurst shifter. At Talladega, the Daytona set a new official world's closed-lap speed record at close to 200 mph, but unfortunately the Fords didn't show up to compete and it was a muted victory.

Disappointment turned to embarrassment the following month at Charlotte, North Carolina, where the Daytonas finally did meet the Fords -- and were badly beaten. Tire wear was the culprit.

Chargers were forced to make brief challenge spurts, then drop back to conserve rubber. According to engineer Larry Rathgeb, the tire problem was never really solved. "Firestone could not, and Goodyear would not, built a tire that could stand up at 200 mph. After five laps you were out of rubber, and that's not good at all."

Salvation finally arrived at the Texas 500 in December, when Bobby Isaac's Daytona firmly beat the Ford entries with a 144.277 mph average. The Daytona went on to win 80 percent of its races in 1969, finishing with 22 Grand National victories, only four fewer than Ford.

But Dodge's fling with stock-car racing ended after that year, and Plymouth took up the corporate torch with the similar (and quite successful) Road Runner Superbird.

Continue reading to find out more about the 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona specifications.

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