Dale Earnhardt hated restrictor plates and wanted to do away with them. Here's one of the things he had to say: “If you're not a race driver, stay the hell home. Don't come here and grumble about going too fast. Get the hell out of the race car if you've got feathers on your legs or butt. Put a kerosene rag around your ankles so the ants won't climb up and eat that candy ass.” ― Dale Earnhardt
I never considered that car as an "oddity" but thought it was a beautiful piece of racing art. I even like the street versions that Dodge had to sell to make it a legal racer. It is still one of my all time favorite vehicles and if I had the wherewithall to own one, I most assuredly would, even if I never drove it the way they were intended. That of course, was back in the day when NASCAR vehicles were actually production cars instead of the "things" they have become and have restrictors that keep them from actually showing what they are capable of instead of what NASCAR says they should be allowed to do. I loved the NASCAR of old, but starting in the 70's it changed. Yes, the vehicles are much safer, but they have, at least to me, lost the thrill of seeing the drivers being competitive instead of being the driver with the most money and sponsors driving the cars, instead of racing them...
I was a goofy 12 year old when these first appeared and I can remember looking at that rear wing and thinking somebody put a park bench on that trunk! As a Ford fan, it was fun to watch the competition between these and Ford.
As I recall, the manifold was a short ram similar to the drag racing engine except it had a single Holley carburetor versus the dual Holley carburetors on the drag racing engine. That was to comply with NASCAR limitation of a single carburetor rule.
I remember their debut, and never thought they were unattractive; brutally efficient and a high-water mark for "stock cars", yes. One could call the Wing Cars "the nuclear option". Creating the fastest car through ingenuity was the whole point at the time, and I'd say that's why that era is regarded as highly as it is. It's the embodiment of a philosophy as much as a racecar.
I had a '70 Superbird 440+6 Pistol Grip 4spd. in Lemon Twist when I got out of high school. It was like marrying a celebrity as the supercar was outrageous everywhere I drove it... It took developed skill to handle short gears and all that juice with VERY little in terms of braking!! Almost like Fred Flintstone dragging his feet!!! I did not turn on the radio once, if it had one! That 440 with six open mouths of carbs at high RPM's was the best tune I ever heard!!!
These cars were beasts on the track. However, too many people thought they were "ugly" on the street back in the 70's. So much so that Chrysler built them. But, they sat up against the dealers back fences. Some dealers had to remove the front ends and wing and convert them (somewhat) back to Chargers. Can you imagine that? Today, we lust over them. Back then, dealers were forced to take them by their Chrysler Rep's (maybe to get a load of "hot selling" New Yorkers), then couldn't give them away!!!
I never heard of any Charger Daytona’s converted back to Charger R/Ts, but I know that a BUNCH of Plymouth Superbirds were converted back to Road Runners! Some were sold by dealers as NEW cars several years after their original manufacture.
This article feels to recognize Greg Kwiatkowsy, the man responsible for this vehicle being recovered and restored over the last 20 years. My dad was a lead engineer on this car, in Huntsville Alabama, and I grew up hearing stories about the car and his witnessing it on the track. My dad and I personally helped Greg find parts my dad had set aside. I hope future articles will recognize 25 years or more of work on the part of Kwiatkowski to make this dream come true.
Leave it to Dale Sr. to call a Spade a Shovel he always called them the way he saw them. Agree with stepping away from NASCAR between all alike and political to canceled all my 25 years season tickets to Daytona etc. Wish we would just get back to the sport and different styles of cars that could still go 200mph+ that you could buy on Monday.
I remember Buddy Baker saying, as I steered the car out of the high banks and onto the straights, I could begin to feel the rear trying to go out from under me when all of the sudden that wing would grab the cross air and blow the rear back straight without me over steering. Richard Petty wanted Plymouth to manufacture their version of the Dodge but were unable to provide due to NASCAR homologation issues so he ran the Talladega Torino for 69 and won 9 races with them.
I have a photo of one of these (might've been a Superbird) in the parking lot of an Alice Cooper concert circa 1979 or so. It was actually the second time I'd seen one in the wild. At the time I thought "I'm getting one of those after the prices come down"....