David Newhardt, courtesy of Mecum Auctions
  • The lowest-mile, original-engine 4-speed Hemi Daytona documented 6,435 original miles
  • Documented with two broadcast sheets
  • 1970s ISCA show car that wore custom paint
  • Formerly part of the Otis Chandler Collection
  • Formerly owned by NFL linebacker Kevin Greene
  • Professional restoration by Roger Gibson
  • The first Mopar restored with correct factory markings on the undercarriage
  • Original 426/425-hp Hemi engine
  • 4-speed transmission
  • Power steering and brakes
  • Vintage photos of the car with custom show paint and before/after restoration

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1969 Dodge Hemi Charger Daytona
Years Produced:1969
Number Produced:503
Original List Price:$3,993
SCM Valuation:$270,000–$380,000 (

This car, Lot F180, sold for $972,000, including buyer’s premium, at Mecum’s Kissimmee sale in Kissimmee, FL, on January 16–25, 2015.

The winged warrior

Among car people, the Dodge Daytona and Plymouth Superbird need no introduction. We know them instantly by their long, aerodynamic V-shaped noses and crazy rear wings.

While the cars may be entirely unconventional by street car standards, they did revolutionize NASCAR back in the early 1970s. Not only was the Daytona the first stock car to exceed a 200 mph lap time on a closed track, achieved on March 24, 1970, with Buddy Baker at the wheel, Mopar’s winged cars also proceeded to whip just about every other car in the 1970 season, claiming victory in 38 of 48 races. That domination soon led to NASCAR changing the rules to tame the incredibly high track speeds, not only from a safety standpoint, but to level the playing field.

Dominance on the track was not necessarily joined by super sales in the showroom. The cars were incredibly hard to sell. The long nose acted as an enormous parking curb feeler — and although the rear wing looked great on a NASCAR track, it was an awkward adornment for everyday street use.

Otis Chandler makes his mark

You could make a compelling argument that Otis Chandler single-handedly raised the bar on the muscle car world. Chandler was heir to the Los Angeles Times dynasty, and the final member of the Chandler family to serve as publisher — a position he held from 1960 through 1980. He is noted and remembered as a man who revolutionized newspaper publishing, and was one of the most important figures in newspaper history.

Chandler also had a love affair with automobiles, and, as a very wealthy man, he could pursue any car he desired. While his tastes were eclectic, he had a passion for the American muscle car, and in the early 1980s, he started to assemble the world’s best collection of American horsepower.

Those quests led to some hyper-valuations for special cars. When Chandler discovered a car he wanted, he went after it with the tenacity of a wild bull. Many times the owner of a very special car was contacted several times, with Chandler upping the ante each time until the owner relented and sold him the car. Most of the time, these purchases were done under the radar. Keep in mind, this was before the Internet and the explosion of classic car auctions, and certainly before muscle car values went through the roof. Chandler’s offers were often many multiples of the value of the car, and most owners found it very difficult to pass on his proposals — especially if the guy had a wife and kids and a stack of bills on the kitchen table.

The Roger Gibson restoration

I spoke at length to Roger Gibson, the gentleman who restored this car in 1988. His recollection of the journey of this car was remarkable.

Chandler purchased the Daytona from Donald Klumpp in the late 1980s for a then-staggering $30,000 — about three times the value of the car at the time. The Daytona was dressed out in full day-two attire, replete with a wild World of Wheels paint scheme, chrome aftermarket wheels, and a grafted-on Corvette L88 hood.

In 1988, Chandler contracted Gibson to restore the car. As relayed to me by Gibson, under the wild paint scheme and bulging hood was a fantastic, untouched, near-perfect 1969 Dodge Hemi Daytona with all its bits and pieces intact. Plus it had little to no miles on it — 5,977, to be exact. Gibson had never restored a Mopar before, so he ventured into the car not knowing what to expect.

He stated that the car was simply pristine — the interior was completely original and needed nothing other than new carpet and headliner. He said the dash was perfect and did not need to be taken apart, and the Hemi only needed a few replacement seals. He did replace the trunk pan and, of course, dispatched the L88 hood.

The original paint that remained on the car allowed for a perfect color match to the factory copper color. This was also the very first Mopar to have its factory chassis marks replicated in restoration, a practice that is widespread today.

When all was said and done, the restoration costs came to a whopping $36,000 in 1988 ($71,000 adjusted for inflation). That sounds entirely reasonable today, but it was a high-water mark back in 1988 for a car that was already in phenomenal shape.

The next owner was NFL All-Pro linebacker Kevin Greene, who learned about the car from Gibson in 1995. The price was apparently steep, but Greene, already a good customer of Gibson’s, stepped up and wrote a check for an undisclosed amount — but only after Gibson insisted that he was potentially passing on the best one in the world.

As the story goes, Greene loved to drive his cars. That led to this car’s first repair, when he drove over a curb in a Walmart parking lot and damaged the front spoiler.

The car eventually ended up in the Wellborn Museum while on loan from Greene after spending some time housed at the Talladega track museum. Gibson says that Greene turned down a two-comma offer in 2006, during the height of the market. Fast-forward to 2007/2008 — the car was eventually sold to Tim Wellborn as the market began to soften. Still, Greene deservingly made a tidy profit on the car — about six times what he paid for it — which he attributes to Gibson’s arm-twisting back in 1995.

Nuts and bolts

Our subject Daytona may be the most original example in the world. It’s thought to be the only 4-speed car with its original drivetrain. Sure, it was a day-two car that was dressed out in a different color combination at one point in its life, but that’s just what happened to these cars. Owners modified and tweaked them, hung out at speed shops, and spent their week’s pay on performance parts. Originality mattered a lot less than beating the guy next to you on a Saturday night.

ACC’s highest recorded sale occurred in 2005 at the Mecum Fall Classic, when a red Hemi Daytona sold for $675,000 (ACC# 39578), near the top of the market. The ACC Pocket Price Guide lists a nice Hemi example at $270,000 to $380,000. That’s a long walk from $972,000.

This car is one of only 20 built with a Hemi and a 4-speed, and is perhaps one of 11 that are still in circulation. It’s the only known 4-speed car with its original Hemi under the hood. Top that off with an airtight story, great provenance, low miles and a Roger Gibson restoration — one with nearly all the original parts and sheet metal. It adds up to a very special car that deserves to wind up in a great collection, and at just under $1,000,000, I’m sure it did.

Given the fact that Kevin Greene turned down a seven-figure offer during the height of the market boom, and considering the current state of the market, with all the television hype and worldwide attention for the best cars, I’d consider the price paid here reasonable and a fair deal for both Wellborn and the new owner. It’s an irreplaceable example, a benchmark and halo car with a spotless history and unique story — and the high-water mark against which all others will be judged.

(Introductory description courtesy of Mecum Auctions.

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