Monday, 21 March 2011

Muscle Car Monday

This is Muscle Car Monday, formerly known as Small Block Tuesday. Every Monday will see a different muscle car with a brief history and some juicy pics. Let's start with one of the best: the 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona.

It was one of the four "Aero Warriors" of 1969-1971, based on the road-going Dodge Charger but designed for stock car racing, featuring a pointed nose and a frankly preposterous rear wing - designed, apparently, by NASA - as well as other minor revisions in the name of reducing drag, such as a flat rear window. Because it was designed for the track, it had to be homologated with at least 500 road cars. 70 of the road cars were powered by a racing-grade 426 HEMI V8 (7 litres) producing 425bhp, and the other 433 with the bigger 440 Magnum V8 (7.2 litres), making a more modest 375bhp but a massive 480lb/ft of torque. Thanks in part to its low drag coefficient of 0.28cd - comparable to the 2006 Koenigsegg CCX's 0.30cd - it became the first NASCAR vehicle to top 200mph, doing so at the hands of Buddy Baker at Talladega on 24th March 1970. Its dominance in stock car racing actually lead to it being banned, only for it to be superseded by the remarkably similar Plymouth Road Runner, driven by Richard Petty to such fame that his sky blue no.43 Superbird "played" the character "The King" in Disney-Pixar's Cars, with his voice.

The road car, complete with 24in high rear wing.
What I particularly like are the daft proportions of the thing. The wheelbase alone is 117 inches (3m), roughly as long as an entire original Mini. Add to that the huge amounts of bodywork at either end and the 2-door car measures in at 5.75 metres, as long as a Maybach 57, and as wide as a Rolls-Royce Phantom at just under 2 metres. The sheer size, accompanied by that enormous wing and bright colours, adds to its cartoonish demeanour that all good muscle cars share. This, though, could be the most cartoonish of the lot, tying at least with the Superbird. It also sounds GREAT. Too bad they're so collectible now you'd need about $300,000 to buy a real one...

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