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Mopars Of Month: December 2003
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1969 Dodge Daytona Clone By Dane Gjesdal

 

 

"Flying Low, Under the Radar"

 
 My Dad and I have been building Daytona's since 1980. We always wanted a Daytona but could never afford one. So my Dad decided to build one. We did our first Daytona from scratch when I was 16 years old. We started with a 70 R/T that we picked up for $750.00 and Welded on sheet metal for the nose, and used wood and fiberglass for the wing. (Black and gold) Can you believe it; I am in high school and driving a Daytona to school everyday. The kids at the school called it the "Bat Mobile." Then we came across a 70 R/T that had a dealer installed wing. We use that wing for our molds and now all of our wings are aluminum.
 
 We them came across a boat shop whose owner loved our wing cars and found a guy who was restoring a Daytona, and made a mold off his nose cone and fender scoops. Around 1985 we wanted to make Daytona's even more identical, so we found a way of putting in a steal rear plug to make a flush 500/Daytona rear window. Needles to say after 20 years and 8 Daytona's later, we find it harder to find Chargers.
 

I have one neat story to tell. In 1984, driving from Oregon the Oklahoma, on my way to college in my second Daytona, (red & white) I was driving through Kansas and a water hose blew on my car. I pulled into this place and popped the hood. I turned around and there was a red and white Daytona in the window, and it was not a reflection from my car. I was at a car museum. This one guy came out and went over to my car and looked at the rear window (We did not put the rear plug in this one) He said, "It's a fake."

 

   He looked my car over and said I did a good job. Then he showed me his museum of cars and his two Daytona's. He showed me one of the two 70 R/T Special Addition Daytona's ever built. I just died. He gave me a hose from his bone yard, which was a big help because my car broke down after all the parts stores closed. Go figure, my car broke down in the middle of Kansas in Mopar heaven. How funny.

 

   I never tell people that my Daytona's are original.. If people ask, I tell them it is a clone. I am proud of the work I do, and am not afraid to admit it. I love the car, and so do my kids. My last Daytona was completed in the summer of 2003, and is one of my best. It would be very hard for even a Daytona enthusiast to tell the difference. Lots of money and time went into it. I do it for me. I do not do it for other people, and will not build one for someone else. That would take the fun out of it. I have been a Minister for almost 20 years and I still get a kick out of driving my Daytona to my church office. Some people, very few, frown at what I have done, so I have not really shared with many MOPAR people what I have done. Yet, when I do, most are extremely supportive. In fact, I sold one of my Daytona's in the early 90's (ice blue and white) and I must have got 100 phone calls, and many of them were from Daytona/ Superbird owners that wanted a driver car to have fun in. One Superbird owner called and said he had his Bird out and someone rear ended him, and he will not drive it anymore. He wanted mine just to be able to drive a wing car. I love driving mine, with no worries at all.

 
Dane Gjesdal
Salem, Oregon
 
 

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