In 1969, Chrysler jumped on the psychedelic bandwagon by adding to its brochures one of the most eye-catching and bizarre options ever. Available to order on the 1969 Plymouth Barracuda and Satellite (along with the 1970 Barracuda), and the Dodge Dart and Coronet/Super Bee, the Plymouth and Dodge Mod Top/Floral Top vinyl roof options were intended to attract women buyers to the showrooms. Along with the floral top, these cars also came with matching floral seat and door panel inserts. Unfortunately, these options turned out to be a flop for Chrysler and very limited Mod Top cars were actually produced.
One Mopar that was never offered with a floral top was the 1969 Charger. This is where the legend of the 1969 “Mod Top” Daytona Charger SE comes in. Back in early 2007, one particular Daytona was brought up in conversation on DodgeCharger.com by a young forum user. He claimed to have seen and photographed a rough looking F8 Green Daytona Charger SE Mod Top car at a Mopar show in British Columbia, Canada in July 2005. While he claimed the Daytona was a Mod Top car, he also shared that the car did in fact no longer have the Mod Top vinyl roof installed, however, there were signs of the previously installed top and chrome vinyl top trim. He also stated the Daytona had a primer gray nose cone and replacement wing as he was told the original nose and wing were stolen in the 1980’s.
In January 2008, a F8 Green Daytona project surfaced on Craigslist for sale in San Francisco. Finding it hard to believe, one of the forum members sent an email to the seller asking if this Daytona ever had a floral print vinyl top. To everybody’s surprise, the seller replied with a very short but ground breaking response: “Hello. Yes, this car came with a green yellow flowered Mod top! This is one of a kind Daytona.” The seller also included a picture of the Daytona back in the 1980’s in British Columbia. In the picture, the car was missing its wing and nose cone and sure enough, there was the Mod Top installed on the roof. Shortly after, the ad for the Daytona vanished and the car disappeared into the darkness.
Around the same time, a new forum member posted pictures of the Daytona at the same Mopar show in 2005. This led to many questioning whether or not the Mod Top was either a factory install, dealer installed item or just a custom addition to the car after it had been taken home from the dealership. Some claimed it had to be an owner-installed addition where another member claimed it was a legitimate factory install. He claimed that he had seen the Mod Top in person and it was indeed the real deal and not a dealer installed top.
He said it came from the factory that way and he had statements from workers at the original selling dealership (Plimley Dodge in Vancouver, B.C) that saw the car come off the delivery carrier brand new with the top installed. A well-known wing car guru further solidified this claim saying he had recently seen the car in person and based on the evidence he saw, it led him to also agree that the top was a factory installed item. This same wing car guru also shared that he had some of the original missing parts off the car.
“The original nose, wing, latch tray, deck lid and rear glass were stolen while the car was parked at a body shop in the 70’s or 80’s. The kids who stole the parts sold them to the old man who I bought my Daytona from. All the old-timers in that area remember my Daytona and the Mod Top Daytona sitting side-by-side at the dealership in BC. I got all those extra parts when I bought mine from the old fellow. I also got another wing as well. That made two extra wings – one black, one white. I did not know the extra parts were stolen when I purchased them with the car. I still have everything but the nose which I sold with my Daytona.”
Another item that had people questioning the legitimacy of the Mod Top Daytona was that the particular floral pattern on the Daytona’s roof was never offered by Chrysler. It was then shared that Stauffer Industries, the original company that made the vinyl material for all the Mod Top cars had verified that they indeed produced the material seen on the Mod Top Daytona. According to the original designer of the material, Mr. Duncan Mounsey, he created four Mod Top prototype material patterns for the Dodge design team during the summer of 1969.
Right after Mr. Mounsey created the materials, he cut four small samples off each colored roll and then shipped the four rolls of the Mod Top material directly to Chrysler. He said he kept the samples as it was “the strangest thing he had ever produced” while working at Stauffer Industries. With one of the swatches he kept, you can literally line up the flower pattern when you lay it over the original section of faded vinyl top material right off of the car.
According to Mr. Mounsey, Stauffer Industries ran a pre-production small batch in the four colors for Chrysler which he commissioned and personally dealt with. The smaller than normal rolls of material all with the same pattern but distinct color differences in each flower could be handled by an individual while production rolls of vinyl top material required a forklift and weighed over 1,000 pounds.
A forum member located in British Columbia also posted up some very interesting information on the Daytona. He shared that himself and his brother bought the car for $1,250 from an auction at Maillardville Autobody in Coquitlam, BC back around 1978 or 1979, and went three-ways on the purchase. After being abandoned by the owner, the car sat in the back lot of the body shop, outside in the elements right up against a chain link fence for around five years. Over that time, someone stole the wing, deck lid, rear window and nose cone. Being at the body shop and assuming it was being prepped for some type of body work, this could explain why the original Mod Top was no longer on the car. He also states that the top was an original Mod Top installation.
After they purchased it, the Daytona ended up sitting in a carport. He said the engine ran when they got it back home and they drove it down the back lane just to see how it felt. Eventually, the partnership between the three dissolved and he never saw the Daytona after that.
In March 2014, it was announced that a man by the name of Todd Savage from Brantford, Ontario was the current owner of the Mod Top Daytona. It was also shared that Todd was restoring the Daytona and with the help of Mr. Mounsey and Legendary Interiors, he has decided to put the Mod Top back on the car!
Todd shared some insight on the whole Mod Top debate. He explained, “During the restoration, determining when and why this very strange Mod Top car was built became a priority. We can now conclusively say it was a design team one-of-one creation built during the summer of 1969 while the vehicle was being converted from an R/T Charger into a Daytona Charger at Creative Industries. During the restoration, the car’s original markings and paint process have been heavily scrutinized revealing many clues about its creation. You see, Daytona Chargers followed a specific assembly process and placing a vinyl top on a car with a special back window had to be special.
“We can confirm all the windows were out when the Mod Top was installed. This was done at Creative Industries prior to the window clips being installed that hold the window trim on around both front and back windows. A special headliner needed to be installed in all Daytona’s right after the rear window plug was installed. Installation of this headliner required the windows to be out and we know this was done while at Creative Industries. During the restoration we have found Mod Top material behind the window clips and in places it could only have been placed when the car was being converted into a Daytona.”
So with all being explained, it appears the Mod Top Daytona legend is completely true and this rare beast is indeed one of Ma Mopar’s one-off creations! We really look forward to seeing the completion of the restoration!