In early 1970, Chrysler’s team of aerodynamicists conducted wind tunnel testing on scale models of next-generation superspeedway wing cars in secrecy. The project was a study for the 1971 Dodge Charger Daytona, a car that never went into production. However, the findings from this project were significant and contributed to improvements in the 1971 Charger model.
The study used a 3/8 scale model of the new G-series/1971 body styles tested for their aerodynamic capabilities. The nose cone and rear wing were unique, with electrically operated headlight doors that added to the car’s sleek appearance. In addition, the team evaluated the models’ performance in the wind tunnel and optimized the car’s design.
Unfortunately, the project was canceled due to the OEM body redesign already showing significant improvements over the previous 1968-1970 Chargers and imminent NASCAR rules changes. However, the lead aerodynamicist recognized the 400-plus page internal report generated from this effort as the culmination of their work over 50 years ago.
The car built based on that report is a testament to the possibilities of the little-known 1971 Charger Daytona study. It has been featured in various automotive magazines, including Hot Rod, Mopar Collector’s Guide, and Mopar Action.
Starting with a 1971 6.3-liter (383 cubic-inch) V8 factory 4-speed Charger SE, the car was equipped with the big-displacement 7.7-liter (472 cubic-inch) Mopar Performance classic HEMI® V8 engine, topped with the HEMI Six Pack setup that was never offered from the factory. The engine generates an impressive 540 horsepower. The American Powertrain 5-speed manual transmission with overdrive allows the 4.10 Dana 60 Sure Grip differential to cruise at high speeds. The car’s suspension upgrades include big .96 front torsion bars, Mopar Performance rear leaf springs, adjustable air shocks, HD front and rear sway bars, power steering, and 4-wheel power disc brakes.
The 1971 Dodge Daytona never represented a significant part of Chrysler’s history. However, while the car never made it to production, the project helped pave the way for substantial improvements in the 1971 Charger. The wind tunnel testing findings helped optimize the Charger’s design, resulting in a more efficient and faster car. The car built in accordance with the report is a testament to this little-known study and showcases what could have been a remarkable car.
The car is set to go across the auction block at the Mecum Indy event on Thursday, May 18th, 2023, and Mecum estimates it could draw $200,000 – $225,000 once it crosses the block.
Custom 1971 Dodge Charger Daytona Image Gallery: