The gavel recently fell on this restored ’69 Dodge Charger Daytona at Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale to the tune of $154,000 including buyer’s premium. Considering the provenance of this car some might consider that a little light. You see this isn’t just any Dodge Daytona, this is the last of three owned by Big Willie Robinson and his girl Tomiko – King and Queen Daytona. Big Willie was a fixture in the Los Angeles street racing scene back in the day as head of his Street Racers of L.A. outfit. He drove Daytonas, green and two red. One of those – this example – he re-painted in off-white.
There’s a scene at the beginning of the cult film ‘Two-Lane Blacktop’ where Willie and his crew have set up a street race for the primer grey ’55 Chevy against an AAR ‘Cuda. Apparently, the production crew laid down some long green for Willie’s cooperation in capturing that scene. He was a legend and he drove legendary cars. This Daytona was certainly one of them.
Corey Owens is the guy who restored this rolling piece of SoCal street racing history and there were no shortage of opinions on whether he should have done that or not. The car is a 440/727 combo, all numbers-matching, and before the fresh paint and undercarriage resto it had just the right amount of patina. But Corey was determined to have the car look its best under the hot lights of the Scottsdale auction and, boy, did he deliver. It’s a stunner. Which begs the question – why only 154K? Did the buyers not see the historical importance of this Daytona, nick-named “The Duke & Duchess?” Did those folks bidding not care for the modified appearance of the car, preferring a more pristine “as-delivered-by-Dodge” look?
One never knows what auction-bidders will actually raise their hands for when it comes to factory musclecars. But we’ll raise our hands and applaud Corey Owens’ efforts to do justice to a legend: Big Willie Robinson and his Duke and Duchess Daytona.