What cars shouldn’t be messed with? The rare, the beautiful, the historically important?
These were all questions reeling through our mind when we first saw the incredibly ludicrous Dodge Daytona you see in our digital pages. Yes, it is a striking visage, but it isn’t the blower sticking through the hood or the gargantuan wing and fuselage front-end that caught our eye – we’ve seen our share of Daytonas and Superbirds. It was the fact that radically modifying a real Daytona is considered taboo by most muscle car enthusiasts standards.
It was not unusual to see a Daytona in days past with a full cage and livery all over – they were made for NASCAR after all. It was commonplace to see them heavily modified, but nowadays, they are held high on the pedestal of Mopar majesty. Most Dodge lovers would flip if they saw a real Daytona being cut up like the one before you. So, we were admittedly shocked to see one with a bug catcher, full roll-cage, and zoomies jutting out of its fenders like horns on the Devil.
As we approached the car, we thought it might be a drag racing relic from a barn find collection. Alas, we soon found out it was, in fact, not a real Daytona at all – it’s a Charger! So before you have a conniption, take solace in the fact that it’s just another Charger that’s been sacrificed to the gods of speed. Like so many Dukes Of Hazzard Chargers that came and went before it, this one is still making passes and turning heads, at least – which is more than anyone can say for most of those piloted by the Dukes.
A Family Affair:
We found Herb Nagel in the pits of the Las Vegas Motor Speedway during Muscle Cars At The Strip(MATSLV) back in April. We spied his car making passes and driving to and from the staging lanes, but the weekend is so hectic it can be hard to track someone down. We weren’t sure where he was pitted, but before we left on Saturday, we had to find him.
Of course, he was tinkering on another one of the racecars he brought all the way from Saskatchewan, Canada. That’s right – he brought not one, not two, but seven different cars to race over the weekend.
The other vehicles included a 1970 Plymouth Cuda with a 540ci-blown Hemi on alcohol – piloted by his son with a best run of 8.30 at 116mph. They also brought along a 1967 Plymouth Barracuda with a 408ci that Herb just installed before making the trip.
In order to make sure the whole family got some runs in, they also brought a ’70 Challenger, ’69 Dart, and a ’73 Duster, all of which Herb built. Herb’s wife even pilots the Gen III Hemi-powered Dart.
But on to the Charger…
A Rough Start:
Herb explained the Charger is actually his brother’s car. They found the dilapidated Mopar about ten years ago, rotting away in a field in Saskatchewan. Someone already cut it up and tried to make a NASCAR-style street car out of it. Herb cut out all of the shoddy work and used his craftsmanship to replace it with materials up to NHRA’s standards.
When Herb and his brother got their hands on the Charger, there was pretty much nothing left of it – they do live in the snowy north after all. (For those of you who don’t know, Saskatchewan is right above Montana, if that gives you a clue as to the climate they’re in.) There wasn’t much left to begin with, so Herb decided to replace as much as he could with lightweight materials. He figured he might as well take it from a plain old Charger to a wild Daytona clone while he was at it.
As for paint, Herb’s brother would like to paint the Daytona-clone a factory Dodge Viper-Green, but Herb told us he plans to talk him out of it because the matte-black looks so wicked!
Herb said the most challenging part of the build was building a new frame. He said removing all of the old material the previous owner “fabricated” made it difficult to line everything up and make it straight and true.
Power To The Pavement:
The Daytona clone is powered by a 505ci Wedge with a Weiand 8-71 blower that runs on pump-gas. Since Herb built the car, his brother wanted him to make the first pass, which kind of worked out because he couldn’t be there for MATSLV. That left all the racing up to Herb. Herb’s best e.t. from the Charger that weekend was a 10.37.
That’s with an under-drive system and pulleys only making one to two pounds of boost. Herb said, “I plan on coming back next year to try and get into the low-9’s with it. It should be pretty easy with the setup we have.”
Starting with such a derelict Charger gave Herb the unique opportunity to throw the idea of restoration out the window, and instead, focus on radical customization. The result is a Charger weighing 2,800 pounds wet, without the driver. He was able to achieve such a gossamer weight by using fiberglass body panels and Lexan windows – the only real window left is the windshield. All the Daytona conversion parts came from a fiberglass company called Showcars in Ontario, Canada.
Herb fabricated everything else on the car. The exhaust was one of the first things that caught our eye, Herb explained he built the entire thing, from the tube-frame to the cage, and even those rad zoomies. He did so over eight-years, but assembled everything about four-months before MATSLV.
Big Rollers and Bent Bars:
Aside from the sheer size of the Daytona clone, it’s a car that announces its presence with stance. Herb set the body on top of his custom tube chassis with custom suspension, coilovers, and wheels and tires. It rides on the always-classic Weld Drag Stars. The rears are 15×10 to accommodate the 33-inch Goodyear Eagle slicks, and the fronts are 15×4 with Mickey Thompson ET Fronts to complete the raked hot rod look.
Moving to the interior of the car, Herb went with a rather spartan setup. A Kirkey containment seat, NASCAR-style rollcage, sheetmetal floor pans, and wide tubs in the back for those 33-inch Goodyears. A custom dash with a minimal gauge cluster rounds out the interior and allows Herb to monitor things from the cockpit.
More to Come:
Herb and his brother have brought this forgotten Charger back from the dead. He and his family are avid racers, and we expect to see their Daytona Clone breaking necks and making passes for a long time. Head to Muscle Cars At The Strip next year to see if they’ll get into the 9’s.
Check out the build sheet and full gallery below.
Owner: Herb Nagle
Model: Charger (Daytona Clone)
Engine: 505ci Wedge with a Weiand 8-71 Blower. Runs on pump gas.
Rearend: Dana-60 with 4.56 gears, spool, and 35-spline axles.
Chassis: Full-tube chassis fabricated by Herb
Suspension: Custom tubular control arms and coilovers.
Wheels/Tires: Rear – 33-inch Goodyear Eagle slicks on Weld Drag Star 15×10
Interior: Racecar stuff (Kirkey containment seat & full roll cage)
Paint: Matte black
Body: Fiberglass front-end, doors, trunk lid, and wing. Lexan windows.
Special Features: Zoomie headers, full Daytona conversion