x x x
x x x x x
x x x x x x
Daniel Daigneault's 1966 Dodge Charger
(from Volume 14, Issue 157)

The more stories we hear about the inspiration behind people buying their cars, the more we see themes and similarities. For Daniel Daigneault, the story behind his 1966 Dodge Charger is that he had a ‘66 Charger when he was young, complete with a 383 motor and 4-speed transmission. Like many other auto enthusiasts though, the car had to be sold due to family needs, including a wife and kids.

After moving to Orlando in September of 1997, Daniel began doing research to find a car in the Florida area, but couldn’t locate a ‘66 Charger that was gray with a red interior, like the one he had growing up. He looked at other possibilities, but knew the ‘66 Charger was his dream muscle car. The problem was he was finding ones that were not in good enough condition for the price the seller was asking.

In the mean time Daniel found a black 1966 Charger with a red interior on the internet. The car was a non A/C car with a 318 Poly engine and automatic transmission, and looked gorgeous in the pictures....but he wasn’t seriously considering it because it was located in British Columbia Canada - and he wasn’t sure about buying a car on the internet. One day he decided to call on the car, just for fun. One thing lead to another, and after 3 months of negotiation they struck a deal. Daniel hired an inspector to make sure the car was what the seller was representing, then had the car transported to Florida.

Daniel drove the Charger as it was for 5 years, and loved it very much. However, in the back of his mind he always wanted to have a high performance car. He was receiving copies of all the Mopar magazines at the time, and one day he saw a new product by a company called Kovalt, which had designed a new set of heads for the big block Chrysler, making it a 32 valve setup and drastically increasing the performance of the engine. That is when Daniel decided that he wanted to restore the car, and include this engine setup. He created a book, and over the next 4 years kept articles on new stuff hitting the market that would be cool to have on the car. However, when he finally called to purchase those heads to put on a 440 engine he was buying, Daniel was told that they were no longer available because the gentleman who engineered them had passed away. A decision needed to be made. Daniel’s wife, Jacqueline, had no idea what a Hemi was....but told him that if that is what he wanted, he needed to get it because this was his dream project.

The car was completely dismantled by Daniel in his garage over a 3 day span in October of 2005, and Patrick Dupuis at Classic Coach Works in Mount Dora was chosen for the body work. Daniel had went to the DMV and searched for a personalized tag for the car, and couldn’t get a 426 HEMI tag, but HEMI 528 was available so he purchased it. Daniel then purchased a custom built 426 Hemi on E-bay from San Diego, and had it custom built into a 528 Hemi. The engine was to be shipped in 8 weeks, but after waiting 18 weeks for it to arrive Daniel was loosing his nerve. Lots of money had been sent to the builder, and so far all he had to show for it were pictures of it being built up, and unreturned phone calls. So armed with all the E-Mails he had received, Daniel hopped on a plane to San Diego and visited the Sheriff. They showed up at the builders house at 1:00am in the morning, and after an intense situation things were finally resolved. Daniel took delivery of the 700 horsepower engine in February of 2006, and it is now equipped with dual Carter carburetors, a fully polished Billet Specialties serpentine conversion kit, 3-inch ceramic coated headers and 3-inch Dynomax mufflers, plus a custom 4-core aluminum radiator with an integrated engine oil cooler. Power is now routed through a Keisler 5-speed manual transmission back to an 8-3/4 inch rear end with a Detroit Locker True Trac.

The car was painted in June, then it took Daniel 3 months to reassemble the car with all of the aftermarket parts he had ordered. He did all the work himself, with help from his friend Patrick in his spare time. Everything went together fantastically well. The only modifications made to the car were the floor hump for the 5-speed stick shift, and some machining on the axle shafts to accommodate the new Wilwood Dynalite Pro Series disc brake setup. The car wasn’t originally equipped with A/C, so Daniel installed a Classic Auto Air Perfect Fit system.

The Charger hasn’t been done long, but so far Daniel is having a blast with it. As you would imagine he has gotten lots of compliments at the various shows and cruise-ins, and even some offers from prospective buyers. However, Daniel was quick to point out to us that this is his dream car that he just finished.....so the monetary offers, while involving big numbers, fall far short of the joy it brings to his heart. That’s the way it should be! CN