TROY HAWKES' DAYTONA AND CHARGER 500

Text and photos by Troy Hawkes

I've been a die-heart Charger fan my whole life and it all started when I was a youngster, oh, at about five years of age. You see, my dad bought back in 1969, one of those cool looking NASCAR cars, the new Charger Daytona. he was into roundy-round racing back in Miami, so this was a cool car to buy for a racer. All my life I have been on a quest to one day land one. Well, as you all know Daytonas don't grow on trees and if you find that tree, sometimes the car is so high on the cost branch, it's impossible to get it.

Being a Charger person, at the age of 15, I, with the help of Dad, bought my first Charger, a 318 '73 Charger SE. It was a great first car. From there I'd get a nice '68 Charger, then a '70 sixpack Charger R/T, which in turn was traded straight up for a '68 Hemi Charger R/T project. Along the way, I bought a '69 RoadRunner which later turned into a '71 Charger R/T survivor. Not too far down the road, I bought a '79 Lil' Red Express for my daily duties and let the '71 Charger R/T rest. All along, I still owned the '68 J-code and the '71 R/T survivor.

Back in 2000, I bought my first aero, a T7 bronze '69 Charger 500 440 4-speed car. It was a blast and allowed me to participate in some really cool events dealing with aero cars. Once again, I find another car for a great deal, another sixpack '70 Charger R/T. This was going to be the replacement for my former '70 which I traded for the Hemi Charger. By now, I've begun restoration of the '68 Hemi. That was a great learning experience.

Well, now we're in 2007. I'm in Iraq with the Air Force and hanging out at the Rec Center. There's a V2 (Hemi Orange) Daytona on eBay. Great looking car and all. I communicate with the owner. We tried to make a deal for a multi-car swap. I have no real money, just the Chargers I've acquired over the decades of great deals. I wanted to trade him the '68 and '69 Charger 500, but the owner wanted my V-code '70 as well. I couldn't do that. The car eventually sold and landed in Texas.

As fate would have it, it showed up again on eBay with the new owner. Again, with him, I tried to work out a deal, but it always came back to all three of mine for the Daytona. I couldn't allow myself to do that. All three of my Chargers were of nice rarity. Well, I remained in contact with the owners as the eBay auctions happened one after another with the car. One day, i got all the suspension done on the '68, rolled it out in the driveway on a sunny day and took some pictures. I have to admit, the sun on the LL1 Turquoise paint was awesome. The Magnum 500s on the car gave it a great stance. I emailed those pictures to the owner and the next thing I know, he's contacting me to come to Dallas and look at the car. It was everything I thought it would be. Of course, there were things here and there that weren't correct, but they were all things I could fix. So, it finally happened. We made the deal. No money, just a hand shake and swapping of signed titles. The "Troy Trade" was born. You see, I didn't hardly have any money invested in the Hemi Charger project and Charger 500 compared to the cost of the Daytona.

The Daytona showed up at the house on a Friday. We downloaded it and started with my Chargers. To be honest, I was real sad to see Dana, my Charger 500, on the trailer. It was a great car for me and my family. But, I would glance out in the street and see that bright orange car with that big black wing and think, "Man, that's mine." Then I would smile.

Bottom row above, right two photos: Houston World of Wheels Car Show.

Two Chargers left, one arrived and my Mopar-life was good. The Daytona hasn't let me down one time. She's been a joy to drive and it was a thrill to take her to the 2009 Aero Warriors Meet at Talladega. The fun of driving now is better with the addition of the Gear Vendor overdrive unit (shown below with photos from the Talladega meet). My Daytona is a 440 automatic 4.10 Dana car. Man, a 4.10 in a Daytona just doesn't make sense...ha, ha. So, I kept the original rear and "modified" the drive train a little.

Some of you know it already as Pete Wiseman's former Daytona that was in England and had a Hemi in it. Brought it back to the States where Julius put the 440 in it and detailed it out. I would change things here and there to make it look more OEM. It was also featured in Mopar Muscle magazine. It is a super solid all-original sheet metal car. I have had the luck of talking on the phone with every owner except one, the second, and he didn't have it long. Apparently the Daytona was bought by a band member (The Executives) out of Paducah, Kentucky. The other two members of the band bought Daytonas as well. The Daytona spent a lot of time in England as well. So, she's been around.

Now I have the Daytona and my '70 V-code Charger R/T. I began to miss Dana and wondered about the possibility of getting another Charger 500. Man, that seems far-fetched. I should be happy with the Daytona and be done with it. After all, I couldn't afford another Charger, let alone another aero.

One day, I said: "What the heck, I'll place a wanted ad on moparts.com". It was basically an ad looking to see if anyone was interested in trading a '70 V-code Charger R/T for a '69 Charger 500. Well, within an hour of the ad's placement, I got a call from my now-buddy Pete. His parents had a '70 Charger R/T sort of like mine when he was a little guy too.

The correspondence went back and forth for about a month. Finally, we both knew it was the right thing to do. The Charger 500 was being converted to a Daytona clone. So, a complete '69 Charger clip was replaced and the wing taken off. I still have the Daytona stripe on the car, but that's okay. Pete fabricated a complete front grille and patched up the wing holes for me. Once again, it was a straight up trade and the only thing out of our pockets was the transportation costs. Troy Trade #2.

The Charger 500 is a Y2 (yellow) 440 automatic with, once again like my Daytona, a factory 4.10 Dana. I'll probably take liberties with this one. It'll eventually be converted to a 4-speed. But for now, I'm going to just get her mechanically good-to-go and drive my "Joe Dirt" 500. You see, it is a Y2 yellow car with a primered front clip and a Daytona stripe. It'll be a while before I can paint it, but that won't stop me from enjoying it out on the road. Maybe Kim will like this one; she won't drive the Daytona out of fear of something happening. So now I'm a two-aero-owner via trades,

 

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