Cars

The Fastest Dodge Of The 1970s

This 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona just went up for sale at the Canepa Collection and it's filled with history, since the story of the Dodge Charger Daytona is one of innovation born from the enduring struggle of man and machine against the forces of wind. Not only did it have an impressive race pedigree, it helped signal the end of brick-shaped American muscle cars.

Enzo Ferrari may have stated that "aerodynamics are for people who can't build engines," but Dodge realized that combining great aero with a great engine would yield fantastic results. They started up front, where they built this wedge-shaped nose to help cut through the air more easily at high speeds.

Way ahead of their time, these vents over the tires help relieve air pressure and keep the front end of the car on the ground, because drivers tend to get just a little bit nervous when the front starts to float at 200 mph. As a secondary benefit, if the race engineers decided to lower the car, the vents also functioned as added clearance, enabling the tires to completely miss the now really low fenders.

The innovation even continued underneath, with special holes cut into the floor to further aid and control wind flow under the car, making it even faster in a straight line.

Out back, a smooth panel covers the gap where the original rear window just dropped straight down. That impossibly tall wing isn't for show, either. It shoots up 23 inches above the deck of the trunk so it can remain in clean air and be reasonably effective. At 200 mph, it worked quite well.

As with most great race cars, the heart and soul lies under the hood. In this case, that's a 426cid Hemi V8 pumping out upwards of 475 hp. It was so powerful, that for the 1971 NASCAR season, it was outlawed.

Inside, it was obviously all business, with little more than a seat, steering wheel, pedals, and what passed for safety equipment in 1969. You wouldn't want to be involved in a 200 mph crash in this, but then again, you wouldn't want to be involved in a 200 mph crash in today's cars, either.

In 1970, this specific car qualified second at Daytona, won at Darlington, and while leading the Alabama 500, became the first car in the history of NASCAR to turn a lap at over 200 mph. In other words, it wasn't exactly slow.

Relatively speaking to other production-based cars of the day, this is one of the most aerodynamically advanced cars of all time.

Aaron Miller is the Rides editor for Supercompressor. He owns an old track car with all the aerodynamic efficiency of a brick, and you can follow him on Twitter.