DUPLICATING A DAYTONA
While Muscle Car Review generally covers all-original rides, we make an exception here because this Hemi-powered Charger Daytona is virtually identical to the authentic item in every possible sense.
In August of 2013, Janice Sutherland came across the makings of this project in Reno, Nevada, at Hot August Nights. It had already been poorly converted from a Charger 500 into a Daytona with a steel nose and solid aluminum rear wing. Looking at the car’s salt damage, Larry Snow, who oversees Janice’s collection, commented that the restorer “should have been a gardener, not a body man.”
Even so, Janice forged ahead. Once she got the car back home, strange things started to fall in place. A local resident approached her at a tire shop and said, “You’re the Superbird lady.”
She nodded, somewhat warily, until the local revealed a surprising tidbit. Turns out he had an original, hollow aluminum wing in his pump shed, salvaged from his wrecked Daytona. Now it could go to a better home.
Larry proceeded to go to extreme lengths to ensure that no aftermarket conversion parts would be used on the car, be they cables, wiring, power steering unit, or brackets. Even the trunk has an extra bottle jack, since a conventional one won’t fit under the long nose. He claims that if he taped over the VIN tag, nobody could tell it’s not an original Charger Daytona.
But what about the engine? It had a 440 in it when Janice acquired the car, so Larry suggested pulling the Hemi out of the drag boat she used to tow around with her Superbird. He figured that, “if it’s going to have the wrong engine, it might as well be the right wrong engine.”
All that was required was some detuning from the drag specs to street duty, so it now delivers about 460 horses at 5,800 rpm. The buildup turned out so well that some very particular judges at a Mopar show created a special class for it as a “Restified Wing Car.”