DUPLICATING A DAY­TONA

Muscle Car Review - - Mopar To Ya! | Lady With Wings -

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.”

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