Interview conducted by Chris Goodsell from Road Ramblings and sponsored by Pitstop Online
Chris Goodsell: Hello Steve how are you?
Steve Lehto: I am very well!
Chris Goodsell: Your book Dodge Daytona and Plymouth Superbird is out now and available. The Pitstop bookshop in Sydney are selling that book. We’ve just done a review on it and I thought you as the Author and also a friend of mine, we might just talk very briefly about it. Where did you get your inspiration to write such a book?
Steve Lehto: I love these cars. These are the cars that have the big wing on the back and the big nose cone on the front. They are just the most loud looking cars ever to race in America in stock car racing. These cars were sold to the public for two years to make them qualify as stock. I had a 1969 Dodge Charger, here in America when I was in High School. That car was the sister car to the Dodge Daytona. I always knew that but I never owned a Dodge Daytona but I always fantasized about it. I got to drive a really neat car, but I always knew there was an even cooler car out there that was based on the one that I had.
Chris Goodsell: Your love of these cars in particular and the products made by Chrysler is quite long term, isn’t it?
Steve Lehto: Oh yeah! I have always been a Chrysler guy! Chrysler is the company of the big three here in America that I think was the most innovative especially in the 50’s and 60’s. They are the ones that built the Chrysler Turbine cars, they are the ones that put the nose cone and the wings on these cars. There was a time when if there was something radical being done in the automotive industry, it was Chrysler. So I have always been fascinated by people who think outside the box and in the case of the Dodge Daytona and the Plymouth Superbird, Chrysler was losing in the NASCAR and so they actually brought in a rocket scientist and said “guys how would you make these cars go faster?” and they said “well, put a nose cone and a wing on it” and that’s how rocket scientists think. Chrysler said “sure we’ll do it!”. General Motors of Ford would never have done such a thing, but Chrysler would.
Chris Goodsell: Now I think in the past you’ve said to me these cars got to a point where they were worth nothing, but now I think they’d be worth a fortune wouldn’t they?
Steve Lehto: Yeah you could be a Dodge Daytona in 1969 for about $4000 dollars and with a Hemi in it, about $5000 dollars. One of them sold last year for almost a million dollars at auction. These cars have skyrocketed in value in the last couple years to the point where you used to be able to find these things in barns, out in fields just neglected, and you couldn’t miss them because they had this big old wing on the back and a nig old nose cone on the front. Now guys are yanking these things out of the fields, out of the barns, and are spending tens of thousands of dollars to restore them because once they’re done they’re worth hundreds of thousands of dollars if not more.
Chris Goodsell: Steve for people who are into mopar vehicles, or who are even into racing sedans – and these are racing sedans that were specially built – will find this a great book to read. I know you’ve done a lot of work in it and I know you are an absolute enthusiast and love doing that sort of thing. You’ve done a number of books including your Tucker book, there is many, many books so we look forward to reading this book in numbers!
Steve Lehto: Thank you very much!
Buy the book at Pitstop, code 38220