The winged NASCAR machines that Chrysler’s two performance divisions created in 1969 perhaps set a benchmark in production vehicle radicalism. Unlike limited-build sportscars, optional dress-ups, or even race-only drag specials that occasionally were pressed into street duty, the Dodge Daytona and Plymouth Superbird were mandated onto America’s highways by the rules of the time. NASCAR had laid down the gauntlet that any styling package had to be produced in a certain quantity, and Mopar had answered the call and then raised the ante.
Those sharp-pointed noses and giant wings look great as a collector’s item these days, but they had the dealership sales forces chewing Maalox as they gathered dust when first introduced. The 1969 Daytona, ironically, was a sort of status symbol and a few Hollywood types bought them before flitting over to the next ‘cool’ thing.
The Dodge factory was required to build 500 of them to make them NASCAR legal in the summer of 1969; there has been some conjecture as to whether that number was inflated using some of reworked Charger 500s (a previous aero exercise whose moniker was based on that same homologation number and the length of the opening race at Daytona). Regardless, the Daytonas were long, gnarly beasts; parallel parking was NOT fun.