Nascar

69 days until the Daytona 500: A look back at the outrageous 1969 Dodge Charger

1970: Buddy Baker drove for car owner Cotton Owens during the NASCAR Cup season, running this Dodge Charger Daytona on the superspeedways. Baker started 17 Cup events and won the Southern 500 at Darlington (SC) Raceway, along with scoring seven other top 10 finishes. (Photo by ISC Images & Archives via Getty Images)

1970: Buddy Baker drove for car owner Cotton Owens during the NASCAR Cup season, running this Dodge Charger Daytona on the superspeedways. Baker started 17 Cup events and won the Southern 500 at Darlington (SC) Raceway, along with scoring seven other top 10 finishes. (Photo by ISC Images & Archives via Getty Images)

There are just 69 days left until the Daytona 500, which will take place Feb. 26 on FOX.

With that in mind, we take you back to what was unquestionably the most outrageous production car ever built to go NASCAR racing: The 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona.

In the mid-to-late 1960s, Ford Motor Co. dominated the NASCAR Premier Series, winning the manufacturers' championship every season from 1963-69.

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In 1968, Dodge introduced an all-new generation of its full-sized Charger sports coupe, which the automaker hoped would be a winner on track. But its recessed rear window and sunken front grille were terrible aerodynamically and the car did not race well at all.

To remedy the situation, Dodge introduced the Charger 500 in the fall of 1968. Built in limited quantities, the Charger 500 had a flush front grille and modified roofline to help air flow at the rear of the car.

But the Charger 500 didn't get the job done against the powerhouse Fords and Mercurys of the day, so in the summer of 1969, Dodge went all in with the insane Charger Daytona.

Modifications on the Charger Daytona were impossible to miss: There was a sharply pointed front nose extension that was 18 inches long, with a spoiler beneath it. Out back were two vertical fins that were nearly two feet tall, connecting to a horizontal wing.

Along with some more subtle modifications to the windshield A-pillars and the front fenders, these new parts dropped the coefficient of drag on the Charger Daytona to 0.28, which would be a good number even today.

To satisfy NASCAR's requirements that automakers race production cars, Dodge had to build a minimum of 500 Charger Daytonas. As it turned out, they built 503.

Ford Motor Co. countered with its own limited-production aero warriors, the Ford Torino Talladega and Mercury Cyclone Spoiler. But without the huge wings that the Charger Daytona and its cousin, the 1970 Plymouth Superbird had, the Ford offerings weren't nearly as radical.

And in a delicious bit of irony, in 1969, a Torino Talladega driven by LeeRoy Yarbrough won the Daytona 500, while the inaugural race at what is now Talladega Superspeedway was won by Richard Brickhouse in a Dodge Daytona.

In 1970, Dodge won its first NASCAR Manufacturers' Championship, but by the middle of the season, NASCAR founder and boss Big Bill France had seen enough: He mandated rules changes for 1971 that legislated the winged warriors and their NASCAR counterparts out of existence.

And just like that, the Charger Daytonas were gone. The funny part about it? Dodge dealers had a horrible time selling the 503 production models, so much so, that some dealers took the wings and noses off and "converted" them back to sort of like a stock Charger would be.

But today, original Charger Daytonas are highly coveted in the vintage car market, where they can fetch huge sums.

In fact, in 2015, a '69 Daytona equipped with a 426-cubic-inch Hemi engine and a 4-speed transmission sold for a world-record price of $900,000 at a Mecum Auctions event in Florida.