As you can see, Ralph Gilles is stoked on the new Dodge Charger Daytona, a nameplate that is back (for real) for only the second time since the pointy-nosed, high-winged 1969 model debuted. Ralph Gilles is rad, so we think his excitement is worth taking note of.
None of the dysfunction one would expect of something named after a town in Florida is present. The Charger Daytona looks mean and has a 370 hp 5.7-liter Hemi V8 and a five-speed automatic transmission with a sporty auto-stick mode. That's a lot smaller than the 440 and 426 Hemi big block mills Chrysler shoved in the original Daytona, but times are different.
What the new car has that the old one didn't is gadgetry. Chrysler's UConnect infotainment system lives in its dash, and the Daytona sports 20-inch wheels, HID headlamps, electronic stability control, four-wheel anti-lock brakes, and a 552-watt stereo system. The Daytonas and Superbirds of yesteryear just weren't that advanced — mere engines on sexy, sexy wheels, perhaps with an AM/FM radio thrown in as an afterthought.
Nothing will ever touch the original for its unique look and, for the time, record setting NASCAR performance. But the new Daytona captures some if its predecessor's rakish charm, even if they only offer it in blue, white, silver, and black. We're waiting for Dodge to dredge up the treasures of a bygone era: plum crazy, green go, go mango, sublime, banana, bahama yellow, and bright freakin' orange, among others.