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Thanks to Hellcat power, the modern Dodge Charger could absolutely smoke its classic forebear in a drag race. However, while the current-gen Charger has insane levels of power, the vintage Daytona model has an insane feature: its rear wing. That wing helped Dodge fly so fast that NASCAR had to ban the car to keep things even. But what would’ve happened if the Charger Daytona had another cross-town rival? Say, the specially modified Chevy Chevelle SS 454 like the one a digital artist recently dreamed up.

Chevy never made a Chevelle SS 454 for NASCAR’s ‘Aero Warrior’ era—but if it did, it might’ve looked like this

A red-and-black 1971 Chevy Chevelle SS 454 parked at Cape Canaveral
1971 Chevy Chevelle SS 454 | Marc Serota/Getty Images

Digital artist Abimelec Arellano has created a solid portfolio of automotive concepts that answer the immortal question of ‘what if?’ And recently, Arellano teamed up with Hagerty to further explore this idea. The collaboration’s latest product is a vintage muscle car Arellano calls the 1970 Chevy Chevelle SS 454 Rockingham.

The Chevelle SS might be Guy Fieri’s favorite muscle car, but it didn’t compete in NASCAR until the mid-1970s. And GM didn’t participate in the ‘Aero Warrior’ period that gave birth to the Dodge Charger Daytona and Plymouth Superbird. So, while the Chevelle SS 454 raced Chargers and Road Runners between the lights, it never faced them on NASCAR ovals.

At least, it didn’t in our universe. In Arellano’s imagined alternate reality, though, Chevy created the Chevelle SS 454 Rockingham to take on Chrysler’s ‘Winged Warriors.’ And while it doesn’t have a massive rear wing like the Charger Daytona, this Chevelle has some nifty aero features.

How does this hypothetical 1970 Chevy Chevelle SS 454 compare to the original Dodge Charger Daytona?

The rear 3/4 view of an orange-and-black 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona in a garage
1969 Dodge Charger Daytona rear 3/4 | Stellantis
Spec1970 Chevy Chevelle SS 454 Rockingham1969 Dodge Charger Dayton
Engine7.4-liter four-barrel ‘LS6’ V87.2-liter four-barrel ‘Hi-Performance’ V8
7.0-liter dual four-barrel Hemi V8
SAE gross power450 hpHi-Performance: 375 hp
Hemi: 425 hp
SAE gross torque500 lb-ftHi-Performance: 480 lb-ft
Hemi: 490 lb-ft
TransmissionFour-speed manual
Three-speed automatic
Three- and four-speed manual
Three-speed automatic
Curb weight3307 lbs (Hagerty)3671 lbs (Hagerty)
1/4-mile time and trap speed13.81 seconds @ 103.80 mph (regular SS 454, Car and Driver)13.5 seconds @ 105 mph (non-Daytona, Car and Driver)

Firstly, while some refer to the Dodge Charger Daytona’s rear wing as a spoiler, it’s not. It’s a wing. Arellano’s imagined Chevy Chevelle SS 454 Rockingham, though, does have a spoiler, derived from the contemporary Buick GSX. But while it likely doesn’t make anywhere near as much downforce, it likely does help with stability.

However, just like the Charger Daytona and Plymouth Superbird, Arellano’s creation has more aero tweaks than just the spoiler. It also has a new front nose cone to combat front-end lift. But the imagined Chevelle SS 454 has something Chrysler’s cars lack: functional vortex generators. With all this aero help, the Rockingham would likely have run a faster ¼-mile than the regular car.

In addition, if Chevy ever made such a Chevelle SS 454, it would’ve likely performed similar handling and braking mods. When Dodge made the Charger Daytona, for example, it upgraded the suspension and the brakes. Plus, road cars offered power-assisted front discs instead of drums.

Could you make this muscle car flight of fantasy a reality?

For now, the 1970 Chevy Chevelle SS 454 Rockingham lives only as a digital render. However, that doesn’t mean some enterprising hot-rodder couldn’t bring it to life. Suspension and brake mods are common on classic muscle cars. And while shaping the nose cone would likely be time-consuming, it wouldn’t be difficult to install a Buick GSX spoiler.

However, making an IRL Rockingham won’t be cheap. A good-condition 1970 Chevy Chevelle SS 454 with the upgraded LS6 and four-speed manual costs about $111K, Hagerty says. Though that’s still cheaper than buying an original Charger Daytona. You could get two of those Chevelles for the price of one Daytona with the S/E package and four-speed manual.

So, for now, Arellano’s idea remains a digital daydream. But hopefully, someone will get inspired to bring it to life.

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