Like the line from the cult classic movie "The Highlander" goes, "There can be only one!". That also is true when it comes to the best OE Gold caliber restoration of a 1969 Dodge Daytona. This 440 4-speed competed head-to-head against five others in OE Certification Judging during the 2012 Mopar Nationals in Columbus, Ohio. The competition was extremely strong, but this car was the strongest, winning Gold status scoring 2238 points out of a possible 2250 points.
This R4 Red, Black Interior, Black Wing 440 4-speed manual shift Daytona was also equipped with the following extra-cost options Track Pack (3.54 Dana 60), Console, Tinted Windshield, AM Radio, and Chrome “Road” Wheels. It is one of only 139 440 4-speed Daytonas produced.
In addition to winning OE Gold at Mopar Nationals, it was also awarded Best of Show. The car also earned Concours Gold at Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals and was awarded Outstanding Dodge First Time Shown during the same event. This was no overnight success. It took ten years of sourcing nearly impossible line original “lunch pail” OEM parts and date code correct NOS components for the meticulous restoration to be completed. Mopar restorer and wing car aficionado Vance Cummins finished in 2012, just in time for her concours debut in Ohio. The time and attention to detail paid off in a big way. There are virtually no reproduction parts on this car. The vehicle also comes with a handsome spares package which includes a second complete set of correct wheels and tires (so you aren't rolling around on 50-year-old rubber if you want to drive it).
Unlike many cars you find, the history of this Daytona stretches far back before the restoration. The car sold new on March 3, 1970 to Terry Alden out of St. Joseph Dodge in St. Joseph, MO. The complete chain of ownership is intact, from the original owner to present. The documentation even includes affidavits from the previous owners, each detailing their experience with the car. Documentation also includes multiple factory broadcast sheets, original registration, a copy of the original dealer for sale ad, title history, Dyno Sheet, as well as Judges Notes for both the OE Gold Certificate and MCACN Concours Gold. Perhaps most importantly, there is a signed photo of the all the owners with the restored car together, from the first owner to the man who restored it.
Terry Alden traded the car in for a 1972 340 Cuda in October of that year. A month later the car sold to Jerry Meade. Jerry wisely purchased the extended factory warranty for the car. In January of 1974 the original 440 short block was replaced under warranty with a 6/73 casting code block by Mitch Crawford's Dodge of Raytown, MO in early February of 1974. The block in the car is not just “a” warranty block, it is “the” warranty block, which was unpainted, unstamped, bearing visible ID marks from the original machining. The cylinder heads, intake manifold, oil pan, timing cover, were re-installed. The car was driven regularly for three more years and then parked in 1977.
The third owner purchased the car in 1981, the odometer showing 44,293. The fourth owner, Gene Lewis, purchased in the car, reviving it from 22 years in storage- the proverbial barn find. Mr. Lewis is the man who doggedly pursued perfection and returned this Daytona to its former glory. The odometer currently reads 44,393.9. On my recent visit to photograph, inspect, and catalog the car I hopped in, pump the gas and turned the key- It fired right up. This is not just a Concours trailer queen, it is truly a turn-key ready ride. In fact, the car scored flawlessly in the Performance category.
According to the 2012 Mopar Nationals judges notes regarding the engine, “In this section again no points were deducted for two reasons, the number one reason is the owner provided significant and convincing documentation that the block was unpainted like most replacement components of that era would usually come through the warranty program as such. Have seen over the years two previous Mopar's of this age that had unstamped and unpainted major replacement components.” Minor points were deducted under the documentation section for the replacement block. Under engine compartment he noted “Meticulously done to new car standard.”
Only 0.65% separated number one from number two. This demonstrates that a car with a factory warranty block can compete and WIN even at a level of intense scrutiny that is OE judging. A factory documented warranty block does not diminish the value or collectability of a vehicle with proper documentation and replacement components.
This achievement has been celebrated in print and in subsequent, invitation only Concours d' Elegance events. The “Red Wing” was treated to a full feature article titled “Daytona Alchemy, the Final Chapter” in the February 2013 issue of Mopar Collector's Guide.
This Daytona is regarded by the most esteemed aero warrior subject matter experts as the finest Daytona Restoration ever to have been completed. Not only because of its achievements on the Concours circuit, but because the car's extensive factory paperwork, ownership chain, and entire history is fully known and well documented. That is the epitome of provenance.