Profile of the Dodge Daytona
Dodge wanted to create an aerodynamic high-speed race car to compete on the NASCAR tracks. They took the successful Dodge Charger, added some aerodynamic parts, and introduced the Charger 500 on the showroom floor as well as the NASCAR tracks. This release was disappointingly inferior to Ford’s Torino Talladega and Mercury’s Cyclone Spoiler.
Dodge quickly sent the engineers back to work and the result was the 1969 Dodge Daytona. Their expectations were to bring glory back to Dodge on the NASCAR tracks. It proved to exceed expectations and was unstoppable. The Daytona featured an 18-inch pointed fiberglass nose extension designed to reduce drag and enhance down force, front fender scoops for tire clearance, and a two-foot high rear spoiler.
That year, the Dodge Daytona not only set a world closed-course speed record of 201.104, but also an unlimited class speed record of 217 mph. At the Daytona race, the Dodge Daytona took all four top positions.
In 1969, the consumer could choose from two engine options: a 426-cubic-inch V-8 Hemi engine with 425 horsepower at 5,000 rpm or a 440-cubic-inch V-8 engine with 375 horsepower at 4,600 rpm. The 426 engine could go from 0 to 60 mph in only 6.6 seconds and ¼ mile in 13.92 seconds at 104.1 mph. Of the 503 Dodge Daytona models produced this year, 433 of them had the 440 engine and 70 of them had a Hemi engine.
The Daytona’s street performance was not as great as its racing performance on the track due to weight. The year 1969 was the only year the Dodge Daytona was available and wouldn’t resurface again until 1984.
Another Daytona debut in 1984
In 1984, the Daytona made a new debut. The new Daytona was patterned after the Reliant and the Aries (K-cars) and featured a fuel-efficient four-cylinder engine. Daytona was considered a three-door four-seater, but in all practicality the rear seat was so small it should have been considered a two-seater.
The 1984 Daytona was intended to be an economy car and the five-speed stick shift provided a gas mileage boost and speed. Dodge relied heavily upon the turbo versions and its sporty appeal to target young drivers. At the time, very few auto-manufactures produced cars that were fast and sporty as well as affordable. The 1984 Daytona had slight styling hints from the 1969 Charger Daytona. The models available were the Daytona, Daytona Turbo, and Daytona Turbo Z.
1985 models stay the same
The same models were also available in 1985 with no notable changes made. They featured the same standard features and an optional handling package that consisted of Goodyear Eagle GT tires on Swiss cheese wheels, higher spring rates, better stabilizer bar, gas filled struts and shocks, and progressive jounce bumpers.
New engine option for 1986
The changes in the 1986 models are the 2.5-liter, 100-horsepower, four-cylinder engine that was introduced, and the Turbo I received new front and rear fascias and nerf extensions. The Turbo Z had wrap-around fascias, nameplates on the tail light lenses, tinted windows, and 14-inch aluminum wheels. The Turbo Z also offered a C/S package. The standard features were updated on all Daytona models to include an AM/FM stereo with six speakers, four-way adjustable headrests, and a rear wiper/washer.
Changes for 1987 through 1990
Daytona received a body style change in the 1987 and 1988 models. These changes include pop-up front headlights, optional rear spoiler, wrap around taillights, and a modernized interior. The models available were the Daytona, (1987 Daytona Shelby), (1988 Shelby Z), and Daytona Pacifica. The Shelby Z was a hot sporty looking edition that is identified by a deep chin spoiler and the 225/50-15 tires. The Pacifica was introduced with a standard turbo engine, front and rear spoiler, side skirts, power windows and locks, digital instrument panel, etc.
From 1989 to 1990 the Daytona, Daytona ES (with or without turbo), and Daytona Shelby were available with just a few changes each year. In 1989, an option of 2.5 liter four-cylinder engine with 150 horsepower was added. The Pacifica model received a makeover and became the ES. The ES was sportier, and the turbo option features a distinguishing turbo bulge on the hood. This was the final year for T-tops. Daytona had reached its sales peak. In 1990, sales would spiral downward rapidly.
IROC is introduced
Very few Daytona models were moved off the showroom floor by 1991. Daytona introduce the IROC, which replaced the Shelby model. The yearly sales didn’t even reach 20,000.
In 1992, the Daytona IROC R/T was introduced and was a performer, but the car didn’t receive any marketing promotion. So, sales continued to plummet. Less than 11,000 1992 units were sold. Chrysler couldn’t afford to lose anymore.
By 1993, Mitsubishi designed the Dodge Avenger to replace the Daytona. The base IROC was no longer available, and only 180 R/Ts were produced that year.
The Dodge Daytona was a great performer then and now. Its performance attributes gave it a small taste of fame that has lived on in the hearts of race fans for years.