Preview: 2006 Dodge Ram Daytona
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Following retro-Sixties-muscle footsteps of the Rumble Bee, Dodge will soon release the Ram Daytona. Basically another special edition cosmetic package for the fullsize pickup, the Daytona will draw on the heritage of the winged ’69 Dodge Charger that raced on the high banks at Daytona Speedway. The Ram Daytona will also have a distinctive rear spoiler, although much smaller than the Charger’s model, and other appearance modifications to distinguish it from the rest of the Ram lineup.
The first appearance of the Ram Daytona came with no formal fanfare at the Los Angeles Auto Show. We spotted it in a central location of the Dodge booth but there were no information cards or literature nearby. And the vehicle was not mentioned at the Dodge press conference. It took a talk with Dodge marketing boss Joe Eberhart and a few phone calls to track down the story.
Eberhart says the Daytona is a continuation of a strategy to offer special edition Rams to maintain interest in the line.
“It started in Texas with the Bighorn editions, which were very successful and have now been copied by our competitors,” says Eberhart, noting the Rumble Bee was the latest special edition. “In that mold, the Daytona fits very nicely. It’s got a great nameplate and great heritage associated with it.”
The ’69 Charger Daytona was a special edition built to comply with NASCAR homologous rules after Dodge built a revolutionary aerodynamic Charger for racing. It featured an 18-inch sloped front extension and a 2-foot-high rear wing over the deck lid. Plymouth came out with a similar version of its racing Road Runner a year later called the SuperBird. With Hemi power and an aerodynamic advantage, Chrysler cars dominated NASCAR in those years only to have NASCAR ban winged vehicles by 1971.
Dodge revived the Daytona name in the mid-‘80s with a sport coupe that offered a turbocharged option. The Daytona was even offered in Shelby and IROC editions before production was halted in 1993.
The Ram Daytona is recognizable by the 11-inch rear spoiler and complementary flat-black graphics on the bed sides. Other noticeable features include side-exiting twin chrome tips from the Borla exhaust, body-colored grille and tail lamp guards and 20-inch alloy wheels.
“It’s a very performance oriented look but it also makes a design statement,” adds Eberhart. “We just think it helps to underline the overall Ram leadership image.”
The truck also features the same hood scoop as the Ram SRT-10, the flagship of all Dodge trucks. When asked if sharing this distinctive trademark would harm the SRT-10’s image, Eberhart said:
“It’s always a good question whether you do that or not. We find that with all the performance models the enthusiast will always know an SRT-10 from a regular truck. You see it at BMW with the M-series and AMG in Mercedes. All the companies that have in-house performance tuning operations, the real enthusiast know. We don’t think it will dilute the image.”
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