In 1974, I joined an antique car club because my dad had several Packards and I had purchased two Patricians of the 1956 model year. Then a couple years later, I added another Packard and a 1970 Z28 4-speed to the 1967 Camaro Supersport-Rallye Sport. I raced the 1967 Camaro on the quarter mile strip and could not keep motor mounts, clutches or pressure plates in the LT-1  360 hp motor in it. This caused a problem with keeping up with everything needing repair.

So I decided to stop racing because of the constant replacement of parts. However, I still wanted to stay involved with automobiles, therefore I began to collect them. I started to read magazines as a result of being a member of a car club. Such magazines included Cars and Parts, Hemmings Motor News, and Old Cars. Each month they always had an article pertaining to rare automobiles. Through reading these articles, I noticed that every manufacturer always seemed to make a model in rare numbers. Numbers may have run as low as 12-15 or as high as 300-400, etc.

In 1976, I went past a body shop in my home town of Effingham, Illinois, and I spotted the 1969 Dodge Daytona Charger on their show room floor. As I saw it, I knew immediately that it was one of 500 or so ever made. I didn't know it at the time, but it had been sitting there for about a year. I stopped to talk to one of the managers of the body shop, who turned out to be a fellow I had known for several years. He told me that they were waiting for the owner to pick up the car. I immediately found out who the owner was and went to see him to see if the car was for sale. When I got a hold of him, he told me that it wasn't for sale, so the thought of purchasing the Daytona was put aside.

A year had passed and it was now August of 1977. Through a fellow at work, I soon found out that the Daytona that was in the body shop was now for sale. I couldn't wait for the end of the day shift! As soon as I left work that day, I was at the owner's front door. He told me what he wanted for it, and I asked him if the Daytona would run. He said, "Come back tomorrow and we will have it running." I was there first thing the next morning and we got it started. He told me the final cost for the car, and of course, I tried to get it for less, but no go. So I broke down and gave him what he wanted and the Daytona was on its way to a new home.

While I was in the process of negotiating for the yellow Daytona, the owner told me it had a white wing on it when he first purchased it. At that time, the wing was black. He had it painted black because he wanted people to see that the car had a wing. However, at night, when he drove it through town, the white wing blended in with the yellow of the car and wing couldn't be noticed.

The date of purchase was August 3, 1977. I took pictures of the Daytona to the local Chrysler dealers in three area cities. Believe it or not, they told me that they had never seen a Charger like this and went on to say Dodge would have never made a Charger that looked like that!

I tried to order parts of certain types and they told me that nothing was available. I gave up on the thought of restoring the car, however, I still rebuilt the 440 Magnum engine. I had the engine compartment and the body repainted. Then, being fed up and frustrated with the situation, the car went into 23 years of storage. It sat in a machine shed on a concrete floor with the car never being jacked up. It hardly had any rust appear on it during the 23 years of storage.

Now, to those of you who are reading this, it might seem that this is not possible. However, there is a note of interest. This machine shed was large enough to hold eight cars and 10,000 bushels of soy beans. The beans were stored in the shed each fall and taken out and sold each spring. The dust build-up on the cars, including the Daytona, was tremendous. The cars were never cleaned up or washed for 23 years. I am under the assumption that there possibly may have been soy oil in the dust which kept the car from rusting so much.

During 23 years of storage, I searched for someone to properly restore the Daytona, however, no one wanted to disassemble the car to bare metal. Then, in April of 2000, I went for a drive through the country about three miles from my home. I had no idea what was about to unfold. I stopped at the home of Robert Barnick, a former acquaintance that I had met five years earlier [and fellow WW/NBOA member] because I was interested in building a shed similar to his. He told me to come to his garage, that he had something to show me. As I entered the garage, there sat a blue Daytona with a black wing. He raised the hood to show me the engine compartment. I had seen right away that it had been restored properly and the car looked unbelievable. When wondering who restored it, he told me that Kevin Kroenlein, or Kroenlein Auto Body in Oconee, Illinois did the restoration.

The upcoming weekend, he was going to see Kroenlein about some touch-up work he needed done on his Daytona, and that I was welcome to go with him and see if I could get mine restored as well. As time in the body shop progressed on Robert's car, I realized that the people employed there knew what they were doing. Ironically, as the conversation progressed, it was revealed that the body shop's secretary was a cousin to the wife of the previous owner of the car.

Two weeks later, Kevin Kroenlein came to my home to give me an estimate for the restoration. I had the car parked in my machine shed over a work pit constructed in the floor. It was now in the middle of May. When I got it running, I contacted Galen Govier, who took the Daytona to decode it. Then I contacted Dean Willenborg, who has built and raced 440s and Hemi engines for over thirty years. Dean pulled the motor, and then the Daytona was taken to John Hall's in Cowden, Illinois where the interior was removed. While John was in the process of taking out the passenger front seat, he found the broadcast sheet under the carpet. The car was then delivered to Kroenlein Auto Body on August 23, 2000 -- exactly 23 years from the date of its purchase.

The car was then disassembled by Gene Cole at Kroenlein's. It was put on a rotisserie and taken to bare metal and metal was replaced as needed. The total amount of metal replaced on the car could be placed in a small coffee can. Every rubber seal in the nose cone tunnel, the rubber seals under the hood, and the seals on the doors and windows were all replaced. Rubber grommets in the floor pans were replaced. The instrument cluster, radio and heater controls were all sent to Performance Car Graphics in Tallahassee, Florida, to be redone.

On February 10, 2001, the Daytona was done at Kroenlein's and was then taken back to John Halls Upholstery. Door panels, carpet and the headliner were replaced. The seats were recovered with new foam and the frames were repainted. In May 2001, I picked up the completely restored Daytona, and it made its first car show in late June. There are about 600 photos documenting the restoration of the Daytona. There are several photos of the white decal on the inside rear quarter panels where the reflector mounts into the car. This proves that the car originally had a white wing. John Hall also remembers the Daytona having a white wing, because he was from the same town as the previous owner's wife.

Photos above left to right: Here the Daytona is being stripped down to bare metal. The instrument cluster, radio and heater controls removed, the floor pans are being primed and painted. The fold-away headlight panels are hanging in primer. Kevin Kroenlein is primering the undercarriage. The Daytona sits in primer. The nosecone. The fresh 440 installed in the restored engine compartment with every wire and hose in its proper place. The proud owner with a freshly restored Daytona at John Hall's Upholstery. The last two photos are the Daytona on display at the WW/NBOA fall meet at the Monster Mopar Weekend in St Louis.

The Dodge Daytona Charger is Sunflower yellow with a white wing and black interior. It is a 440 cid, 374 hp with a 727 TorqueFlite automatic transmission. Another rare feature is the factory installed passenger door mirror, which many Daytonas don't have.

Special thanks to Kevin Kroenlein, Gene Cole, Lyle Craig and Sonia Edwards (the secretary for the body shop). A big thanks to member Robert Barnick, who helped tremendously with proper identification of parts I needed, eliminating the hassle of returning unneeded parts.