Photos John McGann
Hidden since 1974, Ronnie Belletieri’s 1969 Dodge Daytona is set to undergo a full restoration.
The accepted number of 1969 Dodge Daytonas produced in total is 503. No doubt, the 1969 Daytona ranks high on the desirability scale. The sole reason for the car's existence is due to NASCAR's homologation process in 1969. If it wanted to race its cars, Chrysler had to produce 500 road-going examples. In civilian trim, there were only two engines available: the 440 Magnum, rated at 375 horses, and the extra-cost 426 Hemi, which was rated at 425 horses. Both engines were available with either a 727 Torqueflite automatic transmission or an A833 four-speed manual gearbox.
Because these were extremely low-production vehicles with a single purpose, the final assembly of the Daytona was contracted to Michigan-based Creative Industries. Brand-new 1969 Dodge Charger R/Ts were loaded up and sent to Creative Industries to have the nose, rear wing, and rear window plug installed. A quick splash of paint was applied to blend the changes into the car's pre-existing color. That's where this Dodge Daytona was born. It wore Dark Green Poly paint, had a white interior with bucket seats, and a white rear stripe by the time it left the factory.
Photos John McGann
Its story starts at Creative Industries, but this Daytona's life from the time it was sold new until 1974 remains a mystery. However, the person we believe to be the second owner of this car sat down with us to share his story. He asked not to be named, so we are going to honor that request and call him Owner Two. His story starts out as one of need—as in, he needed a car as a daily driver.
"I found the Daytona in a used car lot in New Jersey," he explains. "I needed a car for work, and it looked different." The Daytona's interesting shape caught his eye, and it was enough to convince him to dig into his savings and buy it. At the time, the car had just over 37,000 miles on its odometer. It was also green. He really hated that green. So before it ever logged any miles in his hands, it was treated to a quick and dirty respray to metallic blue, which was inspired by a B5 Blue 1970 Dodge Charger that his brother owned. It wasn't until he actually started using the Daytona as daily transportation that the sobering reality of its impractical nature began to set in.
He recalls, "The car was very loud, and the engine was very difficult to start. That was a problem because I didn't want to get stuck at work." The loud exhaust was a dealbreaker. So much so that he only put a few hundred miles on the Dodge, parked it in his garage, and bought another car to replace it. The garage door was then pulled down, and that was it.