Where Are They Now?
The Where Are They Now? page will attempt to address some basic questions about the Aero Warriors like how many were made and how many are still around? Much of the information presented here is conjecture, as determining the existence, location and number of racing and street winged cars is much less than an exact science. After all, what Chrysler engineer or assembly line worker (or NASCAR participant for that matter) could have guessed the amount of interest these cars would generate decades after their inception? As such, many details of the cars' creation and existence have been lost, or are relegated to long forgotten notes, yellowing photographs and memories which are fading quickly. And unfortunately, many of those involved with the winged cars in the early years have died, or have no interest in talking about the past, for whatever reason. With that said, please be advised that this information is subject to change without notice, is void where prohibited and of course, your mileage may vary.
That's too hard of a question to start off with - how about something easy like...
Well, that is an easy one! 503 were produced (which includes 70 Hemis and 433 440-4V). That's what Chrysler Historical says, and with a name like that, how could you doubt anything they say? Of course, now that you mention it, some people do doubt it. A winged car authority in the Michigan area has a list from Chrysler of Daytonas produced; unfortunately it shows only 385 serial numbers. So some think that this may be closer to the total production number for street Daytonas. This list appears to be partially incomplete however, as cars have reportedly been found that are not on the list or that fall outside of the "window" of production dates also in the list. In addition, there are only 22 Hemi Daytonas among the 385 cars. Even if there were over 560 (see below) cars produced, it would seem very unlikely that the 175 or so cars not on his list would contain 48 Hemis (22 and 48 adding to Chrysler Historical's 70 Hemi production figure). There may be far fewer Hemi Daytonas produced than many think!
Let's get another opinion from Galen Govier, noted Chrysler VIN, fender tag and broadcast sheet decoder, as well as keeper of a sizable winged car registry. This an excerpt from his By The Numbers column in the October/November, 1991 issue of Mopar Muscle Magazine.
"Chrysler Historical states that there were 503 1969 Charger Daytonas ordered and shipped to dealers in the United States. Another 50 (approximately) were ordered and shipped to dealers in Canada. None were known to be ordered for export. To date, there are 322 known to exist in one form or another in the U.S. and another 39 in Canada. The rest are yet to be found or they've gone to the great 'Mopar Parking Lot' in the sky."
As far as how many street cars were produced then, it seems most probable that approximately 560 (USA and Canada) is the correct choice, with around 385 being a very certain minimum production figure. Take your pick - if you own a Daytona then something a little over 385 probably sounds pretty good; if you are negotiating to buy, a higher number like about 560 might be a little more palatable.
And what about the surviving street Daytonas? Recent discussions with Galen (October, 1996) reveal that 385 Daytonas, in one form or another, are now in his registry. This, of course, is no guarantee that all 385 exist at this moment in time, but it does indicate that at one time or another each of these cars did exist. For better or for worse then, 385 is probably the best answer that can be given to the how many are still around question, with the caveat that some of these cars really are no longer around in any form or another. Incidently, Galen also reports that he now feels 51 street Daytonas were shipped to Canada - his 1991 article stated approximately 50 were shipped.
Zero, if you are asking how many Daytonas were produced from an assemblage of parts that had not at anytime previously resembled anything even remotely approaching an automobile. In other words, it appears that all racing Dodge Charger Daytonas started life as another automobile. Specifically, they began as 68 Chargers, were probably then 69 Charger 500s before taking the big step up the Dodge evolutionary chain to immortality as Daytonas. Never being the shy ones, many Daytonas were later stripped and re-skinned (I think we all know how painful that can be) as later model Chargers or Magnums. So anyway, just how many were there? Well, count up the number of different drivers and teams which fielded Daytonas (20+), figure that a few well-to-do teams (read factory-backed) may have had as many as two or three Daytonas, while most of the under-financed teams further down the Chrysler food chain probably had only one car (if that). Then, throw out the high and the low and you get the correct answer: 42 (all right, its a shot in the dark!). See the Cars And Drivers page for a more comprehensive explanation of how this number was arrived at.
Yes, we believe we do. One of Bobby Isaac's cars resides at the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in Talladega, Alabama. There is some controversy (you've probably read about it in all the papers) as to whether this car is the one used to break several records at the Bonneville Salt Flats in 1971. Some feel it couldn't be, as the Salt Flats car appears to have been altered substantially from its NASCAR configuration, while the Isaac car as it now exists is not "cheated up". The Hall of Fame car recently underwent restoration by noted Mopar expert Roger Gibson, and he reported finding salt around the fuel cell area. Also, Harry Lee Hyde (son of Isaac's crew chief Harry Hyde) reports that this car is the one that went to Bonneville.
And speaking of the International Motorsports Hall of Fame, a #88 Daytona can be found there - the one that Buddy Baker drove through the 200 MPH barrier in March of 1970. Well, not really. The #88 on display at the Hall of Fame is the factory prototype Daytona #71 "mule car" which was used extensively by Chrysler for testing, and is often seen in photos wearing a red paint job and a very short set of vertical stabilizers. And for the record, no actual mules were involved in any phase of the testing, just lots of horsepower!
Where is the real #88 that took Baker to the closed course 200 MPH record? It's no where near the Hall of Fame, but is in fact in Michigan moving at 0 MPH, as it is in the process of being restored. Chrysler reportedly gave the #88 to USAC racer Don White after they were done with it, and Don raced it on a few occasions as the #5 Daytona and then as a later model Charger. He eventually parked it, and it was purchased in 1998 by the present owner who lives in Michigan. This is arguably the most significant winged car of all time.
The #30 Dave Marcis Daytona had a stint as the Goody's promotional car, which was displayed on occasion at NASCAR tracks. Oddly enough, it was painted like one of Richard Petty's SuperBirds, making most winged car fanatics think they had taken the fast track to the Twilight Zone the first time they saw it. Rumor now has it that the car is again (or will soon be) painted as the Marcis car....it's about time!
An ad in Hemming's Motor News in 1995 claimed that Bobby Allison's #22 Daytona was for sale, although it was just a rolling chassis. This car eventually found a home in Michigan, and is undergoing restoration. It may well be the chassis that Dick Brooks used in the 1971 Daytona 500, powered with a 305 c.i. Keith Black motor. The current owner plans to restore the car to its 426 Hemi configuration, however.
At least one more Allison Daytona chassis is thought to exist in California. The present owner has discussed various details of this chassis with Bobby Allison, and it looks as though it was part of one of Bobby's winged cars. Another car was also just restored in California which might have been an Allison winged car. It was recently sold to an individual in the mid-west.
A Buddy Baker #6 Daytona resides comfortably at the National Motorsports Press Association Hall of Fame and Joe Weatherly Museum. Some feel this car was raced, while others think it was constructed solely as a show car by Cotton Owens. There may be another #6 hiding somewhere, but details on this car are next to non-existent.
Jack McCoy's #7 car has been brought back to life in California, where it has been spotted on occasion. Another California entry in the Daytona revival is a Ray Elder #96 Daytona. It's heritage is unclear at the moment.
Not to be left out, one of Chargin' Charlie Glotzbach's #99 Daytonas is said to be residing in the southeast. And if that wasn't enough, the window plug from another of the racing Daytonas was located in Texas and is now in California.
There is talk of a #31 Jim Vandiver Daytona being out there somewhere too. If you see something blue and yellow with a wing, and it's moving pretty fast, that might well be it!
Well, for the street cars, 1,920 (which includes 93 Hemis, 665 440-6V and 1,162 440-4V) is one of the correct answers, because that's what the NASCAR Serial Number List says. Of course, Chrysler Historical seems really fond of the number 1,935 (which includes 135 Hemis, 716 440-6V and 1,084 440-4V) so maybe to be safe we had better average the numbers and declare 1927.5 correct!
For a more definitive answer on the subject, let's again visit the writings of Galen Govier, Mopar "numbers guru". These excerpts are also from Mopar Muscle Magazine, this time the December/January, 1992 issue:
"When you begin with the 1,920 figure supplied by NASCAR and delete the serial numbers that are repeated and add the serial numbers of known SuperBirds that have popped up in the past two decades, you come up with a grand total of 1,969. This figure includes the numerous cars that have been located in salvage yards, sighted at car shows or are still in the hands of their secretive original owners. Why the difference in amounts? Well, we know that the 1,920 amount is inaccurate, and I believe the 1,935 figure is the total number of cars shipped to dealers in the U.S.A. The unaccounted for cars seem to have been shipped to Canada. I also know of SuperBirds in England (7), West Germany (1), Sweden (2), Malta (1), Puerto Rico (1) and Australia (1). But as far as I know, all were shipped to their respective destinations in the mid-1970s or later; I don't know that any were exported when new. Of those 1,969, only 974 are registered in one form or another."
For now then, the 1,969 figure appears to be the most correct answer when trying to address the question about how many street SuperBirds were manufactured.
As with the previous By The Numbers excerpt about Daytonas, this article was written several years ago. Like he did with Daytonas, Galen recently made available some updated information for use in the Aero Warriors site. Let's take a look at it now.
Galen presently shows 443 SuperBirds in his registry. Those with an affinity for mathematics may have noticed a small difference between this figure and the 974 quoted in the 1992 By The Numbers article. An explanation is in order.
Galen assigns varying standards of proof to the registry data he collects. Galen's personal observation of a car provides a higher standard of proof of a car's existence than does his receipt of a fender tag rubbing in the mail. Likewise, having a fender tag rubbing or copy of a broadcast sheet gives a higher standard of proof as compared to word-of-mouth that a car with a certain VIN number exists. The 443 cars presently registered reflect those which Galen has witnessed personally or which he has some tangible proof of, such as a fender tag rubbing, broadcast sheet, etc. The 974 figure quoted several years ago reflects the count to that time of any and all SuperBirds reported to him, including those cases where no physical substantiation was provided. That number has not changed significantly in the past five years.
It is also important to mention that Galen is in the process of transferring the VIN records he has collected for the past two decades onto computer. The SuperBird figures of 443 and 974 may change to some degree when all data is on disk and can be sorted and queried more effectively.
It seems reasonable to conclude that the actual number of SuperBirds that now exist is certainly greater than 443. Owners careful enough to have documented their cars with Galen or have them in public forums where they were observed by him seem much more likely to have been careful to preserve their cars. Because it also seems unlikely that all existing SuperBirds have been registered, the number of cars that now exist would appear to fall between 443 and the total production figure of 1,969. Using the same logic as applied in the earlier Daytona discussion then, the best answer (which is not necessarily a good answer) is 974. This figure represents cars registered over time in one form or another, with documentation ranging from impeccable to non-existent. As with the Daytonas, this figure is offered with the understanding that many of these cars probably aren't around any more, but this is the best number given the information available.
Concerning the "repeated" serial numbers Galen refers to in his By The Numbers column, if you happen to have enough spare time on your hands to spend the six weeks necessary to enter the serial numbers into a computer database, you will discover several different things:
Anyway, these 21 sets of duplicate numbers, as Galen says, call into question whether the 1,920 count is correct. By the way, for those of you with the NASCAR Serial Number List, better things to do in a six week period than type your fingers to the bone, and the burning need to know just which sets are duplicates, they can be found in the VIN Numbers page.
For racing SuperBirds, the same rule-of-thumb applies as for Daytonas. Wealthy teams, such as Petty Enterprises, probably had from four to six cars for the "King" and Peter Goodwill Hamilton's use, with most having been constructed by Petty Enterprises. Other less well connected drivers, such as Ramo Stott, were known to have only one car. Ramo's car was built at Ray Nichels' Highland, Indiana facility, along with a majority of the racing SuperBirds to hit the tracks. Of course, nothing precluded other independent drivers from building their own cars, as must have also been the case with Daytonas. Looking at the number of drivers known to have piloted SuperBirds, it would seem reasonable to presume that there were probably around 20 racing SuperBirds built during the 1969 - 1971 time frame. The Cars And Drivers page attempts to arrive at a production number by listing all known winged car drivers, assigning a probable number of cars available to each, and then arriving at a total for each car type.
Glad you asked! The #43 car in the Petty Museum was never driven by Richard Petty in a race as a SuperBird. The only remaining original Richard Petty SuperBird is in the home (literally) of Hugh Hawthorne of Richmond, Virginia. Another was destroyed at Darlington, and parts of it and other Birds may well be buried behind the Petty compound, where many cars and parts of cars are thought to have ended up. Yet another escaped burial and flew north to the garage of Norm Nelson, USAC car owner and driver. This car's chassis was destroyed in the late 1970's in an accident. No word if it was buried or simply cremated with its ashes, perhaps, having been spread over Lynch Road.
A #40 Pete Hamilton SuperBird has supposedly been revamped at a top secret SuperBird restoration facility in the southwest (OK, the part about the secret facility isn't true). It is actually reported to be residing in the Washington State - Oregon area.
Ramo Stott's SuperBird (wearing #7) was sold in 1997 by the individual who bought it from Ramo in 1988. The Bird is now nesting comfortably in Ohio.
And in the keeping your nose clean category, the only thing known to remain of Sal Tovella's #8 racing SuperBird is the nose, which is now occupying space in a garage in Florida.
Yes, there are a few more things that need to be said (or repeated).
First, as alluded to above, the count of registered cars cannot serve as an accurate indicator of how many cars actually exist at the present time. It is sometimes easy to forget this fact. There are simply too many Daytonas and SuperBirds with too many different owners in too many different places to constantly verify that they continue to exist, i. e. they haven't been destroyed or stolen and stripped or whatever. Knowing that a car has at sometime existed is arguably more important than knowing for sure that all cars registered now exist (unless of course you own the now non-existent car that was destroyed). Incidently, both of Galen's registries include several cars that are known to have been destroyed.
Second, what constitutes a car being one car, as opposed to it being another car? Let's try that again. What makes a SuperBird or Daytona unique when compared to all other SuperBirds and Daytonas? There are all kinds of complicated answers which can be taken down to the molecular level, but for the purposes of this discussion it is the vehicle's serial number, or VIN number. So even if SuperBird RM23V0A179708 has had some of its sheet metal replaced and no longer carries the motor it came with from the factory, it is still car RM23V0A179708. This gets a lot more difficult when a car is "destroyed" and all that survives is the VIN number on the dash and maybe the data plate from the fender. And of course there is a similar body somewhere else that just happens to "need" these items. When they mate, which car does it now become?
Although discussed thus far within the context of a street vehicle, the real point here has to do with the racing Aero Warriors. Because of the violent life these cars lead on the tracks, they almost certainly experienced major repairs at some point in their lives as winged cars. At what point does a crashed Daytona become a different Daytona because of major rebuilding work? Although many of the racing platforms carried some kind of serial number from the builder (Ray Nichels was reported to have assigned two or three digit numbers to the SuperBirds he built), there was no standard format stamped in a known standard location. The confusion caused by the lack of a standard serial number assignment system is further exacerbated by the number of re-incarnations many cars must have experienced. Yes, in all fairness, there was absolutely no sane reason for such an assignment system to have ever been implemented, but it sure would make winged car fanatics' work a little easier a quarter century later! Keep this idea in mind when evaluating and assessing the arguments presented here (and elsewhere) as to how many racing winged cars were produced.
Lastly then, it becomes apparent that this page is as much an academic exercise as anything else, because of all the uncertainties already discussed and the many more not mentioned or yet known. Thanks to the many sources that have helped in compiling the information on the Where Are They Now? page, including Galen V. Govier and D. J. Patik.
Addendum - Additional Information
The following excerpt appeared in the May, 1997 issue of the Hightailer, the monthly newsletter of the Daytona-SuperBird Auto Club. Doug Schellinger, who runs the club, is responding to a reader's question about where the remaining Charger 500 and winged race cars are. This excerpt is used by permission of the club.
"We know relatively little about many of them. The Petty museum car was not a real race SuperBird, but was built long after the cars were retired. One of Petty's SuperBirds belongs to Hugh Hawthorne in Virginia, who has owned it for many, many years. Hawthorne is a friend of Richard, and also was associated with Paul Sawyer, promoter of the Richmond Fairgrounds Raceway which has hosted NASCAR racing since the beginning. Hawthorne keeps the Bird in a climate controlled room at his place in Richmond. He also has a 1986 Petty Pontiac 2+2 Aerocoupe road course car as well. Another Petty SuperBird wound up in the hands of Norm Nelson's USAC team in 1971. It raced as a Bird that season and in 1972. In '73, it was re-skinned as a '72 Road Runner. In 1975 it was modified to be a 1974 Road Runner. It suffered complete destruction on the dirt at DuQuoin, Illinois in 1978 in the hands of USAC driver Larry Nau. Norm Nelson's other SuperBird was re-bodied in the same way and wound up in the hands of Chicago driver Sal Tovella. It is likely this car finished it's career as a Dodge Magnum in USAC. Other cars of interest: The #6 Buddy Baker Daytona at Darlington - I don't know anything about the history of this car. The #88 Daytona at Talladega - This car has '68 upper door frames on the interior, which would mean it was re-skinned from a Charger to a Charger 500 to a Daytona. I have no proof that this was indeed the 200 mph car. The #7 Ramo Stott ARCA/ USAC/NASCAR SuperBird is well documented. It was never re-skinned after the 1972 USAC season and was simply retired from service - a blessing as it exists in the original sheet metal hung at Nichels in 1970. The #5 Bobby Unser Nichels USAC Bird from '72 was sold to USAC driver Irv Janey and re-bodied as a 1974 Charger. I believe when you re-bodied to the late Charger body style, the roll cage needed modification. I don't know what happened to this car beyond 1974....The Dave Marcis #30 Daytona was a '68 Charger driven by Pete Hamilton. It was converted to a Charger 500, then to a Daytona. In 1971, it was returned to a '69 Charger where it finished it's career as a NASCAR Late Model Sportsman (now Busch Grand National) in the mid-1970s. It has been reported that the late Butch Hartman's Daytona or Daytona chassis is still in the hands of the family. This is completely unconfirmed and from hearsay. Jack McCoy is restoring a race Daytona in California, although I know little about this particular car..."