Totaled SRT8 Charger Becomes 1969 Dodge Daytona!

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Totaled SRT8 Charger Becomes 1969 Dodge Daytona!

Postby scottm » Mon May 09, 2016 10:03 pm

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Reborn! Totaled SRT8 Charger Becomes 1969 Dodge Daytona!
http://www.hotrod.com/features/1605-reb ... e-daytona/

As improbable as it seems, one man—nearly by himself—is transforming a wrecked 2006 Dodge Charger SRT8 into a 1969 Dodge Daytona clone in his home garage. Typically, mixing and matching such dissimilar vehicle platforms results in a hideously proportioned vehicle that shares little of the original car’s beauty or the newer car’s functionality. This example, however, is drop-dead gorgeous, and it isn’t even finished yet.

If there is one guy who is uniquely qualified to pull off such a stunt, it’s Steve Mirabelli. A Mopar fanatic since he was a kid, Mirabelli has been one of NASCAR’s top Cup car fabricators for the past couple of decades. His work for Hendrick Motorsports as a car builder has given him the engineering knowledge, fabrication skills, and patience (hello, Talladega?) to conceive and follow through with such a project.

When finished, the Daytona clone—a near dead ringer for the original street-going version of the high-speed winged warrior—will retain all of the ’06 SRT8’s powertrain, suspension, electronics, suspension, brakes, instrument panel, and much of the interior. On the outside, all the original ’69 Daytona’s lines are preserved, thanks to a 1968 Dodge Charger donor car that gave its skin to the cause. Mirabelli has been very careful to retain all the late-model’s safety and emissions equipment, and the car will be registered and titled as a 2006 model. We want to be a fly on the wall when he walks up to that DMV counter!

We’re over-simplifying things here, but to reach his goal, Mirabelli basically removed all the sheetmetal from the 2006 SRT8, right down to gray metal. The ’68 Charger body was then braced internally and externally to preserve its shape, its floor and stiffening structure was cut away, then it was placed on top of the waiting LX platform. That’s when about a million problems cropped up that would’ve stopped lesser car guys in their tracks!

The overall look of the car is stunning, and Mirabelli has kept us up to date with his progress over the past couple of months. In recent weeks, Steve has begun painting the door jambs, trunk lid, hood, and other small body parts, then moved on to the final color coat and clearcoat. In that time, he’s worked out many of the small refinements that will set this car off from others, such as the fender-top air duct grille close-outs. In the attached photo gallery, you’ll see how Mirabelli used a scrap late-model grille piece to make a rubber mold, then used DIY resin formula and a custom-formed mold to cast what appears to be an all-new OE-style injection-molded grille for the air scoop. It’s a brilliant example of home-brewed ingenuity that anybody can duplicate.

Speaking of the many small engineering refinements in Mirabelli’s Daytona clone, you may also want to refer to this large photo gallery of fabrication details leading up to the final body prep work and paint application. Of particular note is the video showing Mirabelli driving the half-finished car around the yard to make sure all engine, trans, and electronic components work.

Mirabelli does have a few remaining obstacles to climb before coming into the home stretch with his Daytona. He still has to do the final wet sanding and buffing, then there’s putting all the pieces back on, like the wing, nose, doors, and rearview mirrors. He doesn’t know what problems he’ll encounter during reassembly, and then there is that pile of mangled Sprint Cup cars wrecked in Talladega that he has to fix in time for Daytona. With any luck, we hope Dale Jr., Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, and Kasey Kahne can keep their Chevys in one piece long enough for Steve to finish what we care about most!


I cannot imagine how much work this project is taking. What an awesome idea, though!

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Re: Totaled SRT8 Charger Becomes 1969 Dodge Daytona!

Postby scottm » Mon Sep 26, 2016 10:37 pm

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SRT8 Daytona Clone Is Done, But NC Won’t Let Him Drive It!
http://www.hotrod.com/articles/srt8-day ... let-drive/

Back in January, we first told you about Steve Mirabelli’s crazy project: Take the body of a thrashed 1968 Dodge Charger and set it on top of a totaled-out 2006 Dodge Charger SRT8. [hotrod.com] Add a ’69 Daytona nose and wing, convert the rear glass to a flush Charger 500 backlight, and you’re done. Sounds simple, right?

It sure got the public’s attention, because such a “simple” task like mating a classic body style with the chassis and powertrain of a modern performer opened a lot of minds. Why in the heck couldn’t you have the best of both worlds? The drop-dead gorgeous lines of Dodge’s most recognized car ever—the 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona—with the power, safety, and fuel economy of a late-model 6.1L Hemi Charger SRT8? The problem everyone realizes at first, however, is that the track, wheelbase, and cowl height of these cars is different and needs to be reconciled very carefully, and not just from a visual/design standpoint, but from a structural one too.

Fortunately, Mirabelli has a mad set of skills, as he’s a NASCAR race car fabricator for Hendrick Motorsports in the Charlotte, NC area. For decades, Mirabelli has been creating and repairing some of the world’s fastest machinery, so while the modernized Daytona project isn’t exactly a cakewalk for him, it’s the closest thing to a cakewalk. As you peruse the photo galleries from our original story, and the update we brought you in February [hotrod.com] and the most recent one in May [hotrod.com], you begin to see the sheer complexity of melding the shape of the Daytona with the mechanicals of the SRT8. Operations like fabbing the HVAC ductwork, cowl area, hideaway headlights, trunk, fuel filler, fender vents, and interior leave one speechless, except for maybe expletives like, “dayum!”

he photos we bring you here are a quick refresh of where this project started, some late-stage fabrication, a trip through the paint shop, final assembly hiccups, and the photos from the finished car in Steve’s backyard.

But one big problem remains: what exactly “is” it? We know what it is, but the NC Department of Motor Vehicles may have the last laugh. As we cars guys have come to discover in varying degrees is that on most days, our government hates us. Why we can’t just behave, pay our money, and drive the same cookie-cutter Toyota Camry? On better days, state governments merely tolerate us as a source of revenue and jobs. So while most of us would’ve taken the easy road of dropping a late-model engine and trans in an old body, Steve melded the two to the point that NCDOT wants to call it a 2006 model-year car. Going the high road and building the safer, more fuel-efficient car has bought Steve a whole closet full of hurt, proving that once again no good deed goes unpunished. Will Steve get North Carolina’s blessing to drive it on the road, or is he banished to doing Dukes Of Hazzard donuts in his backyard the rest of his days?

We’ll let you know in the final installment! Stay tuned!


Wow, that turned out awesome!


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