Joe Dirt’s Filthy, Fake Daytona Sells For as Much as a Real One


Director Dennie Gordon’s 2001 comedy, Joe Dirt, has a putrid 9 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but I thought it was a pretty fun movie. It ain’t Citizen Kane, but the adventure comedy starring David Spade is silly enough for a few yuks. It’s also a rare Hollywood foray into storytelling for and about blue-collar workers. When released, Joe Dirt grossed $31M. At Barrett-Jackson Palm Beach this year, his Dodge Charger grossed $330,000.

The 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona that starred alongside Spade’s mullet-haired, mop-wielding hero protagonist sold for almost exactly its #2 (“Excellent”) condition value of $337,000 in the Hagerty Price Guide. That’s odd for two reasons: one, because the car isn’t a real Dodge Daytona, and two, it certainly isn’t in excellent condition.

In 1969, Chrysler built the Charger Daytona as its first “aero” car, forming a distinctive pointy-nosed and high-winged shape with the high-speed tracks of NASCAR in mind. The Daytona won its first race, the Talladega 500, and notched six total NASCAR wins during the 1969-70 seasons. Its nearly identical successor, the Plymouth Road Runner Superbird, won a further eight races in 1970. Built on the same platform as the ’69 Charger R/T, the Daytona was also available to the public in order to homologate it for NASCAR racing, and 503 of them were built in total. Of that number, 70 received a 426-cubic-inch Hemi engine. The rest got a 440 Magnum. Today, Dodge Daytonas are highly coveted collector cars, but the Mopar aero cars weren’t particularly popular when new.

Apparently the same was true in the Joe Dirt days of 2001. In the movie, his Daytona is far from his pride and joy—it’s a backup plan. Immediately after buying a pristine ’67 Hemi GTX convertible from an old lady (who just killed her husband for only the change in his pocket), Dirt accidentally gets carried away in a hot air balloon and embarks on a series of misadventures. By the time he comes back to retrieve the Competition Orange GTX, the impound fee is over three grand. All he has is $450.

The guy at the impound lot (played by the inimitable Kevin Nealon) takes the $450 and gives him a mostly yellow (but also blue, with some primer) Daytona. It’s rusty, belches smoke, has no door panels, and one of its pop-up headlights is stuck. It’s also packed with ’70s muscle car clichés like a chrome chain-rimmed steering wheel, footprint gas pedal, fluffy seat covers, 8-track player, Cragar wheels, and fuzzy 8-balls in the mirror. Even with all that, though, $450 for a Mopar wing car was a steal even in 2001. For both the GTX and the Daytona, the car pricing in this movie was a little bit of movie magic.

So was the Daytona itself. The only car used for filming, it started out as a stock Plum Crazy over white 1969 Charger, born with a 318-cu-in engine. The engine was reportedly swapped out for a 440 built by drag racer Dick Landy, so it probably doesn’t really spew smoke. Its body panels were swapped for replica Daytona skin, including the 23-inch-tall rear wing, but the patina on the paint and wheels is all stage makeup. This is not a grimy car under the skin. On the contrary, it looks quite nice.

Spade must have liked it. In 2015, he plonked down $900,000 at auction for a real-deal, four-speed Hemi Daytona. (The same one sold for a record $1.43M at Mecum Kissimmee last year.)

A year after the movie came out, according to some online sources, the studio sold the scruffy Charger to a private owner for just $18,000. What Barrett-Jackson sold it for this year is nearly 18 times higher than that.

Here are some other wrinkles. All classic cars today are more expensive than they were 23 years ago, but some have grown more than others. The value curves of the two star cars in Joe Dirt illustrate this point. Today, a 440-powered Dodge Charger Daytona like Dirt’s in #4 (“Fair”) condition is actually worth more than a ’67 Hemi GTX convertible in #2 (“Excellent”) condition like the dream car he lost to the impound lot.

When it comes to cars, putting a price on fame and celebrity is a bit more art than science. Even so, a lot of it boils down to just how famous a car or its owner is, and just because a car was in a movie or owned by a celebrity doesn’t guarantee a big price. For example, Tom Cruise’s iconic Porsche 928 from Risky Business? A slam dunk. Dennis Rodman’s Mustang? Not so much. Certain movie cars are valued more as artifacts than automobiles.

In this Dodge’s case, it’s a car very closely associated with a fairly famous (if poorly reviewed) movie character, so a lot more of its sale price is thanks to screen time rather than quarter-mile time. Finally, in an auction setting, the right buyer has to be in the room at the right time. Most people wouldn’t drop $330,000 on a dumb comedy movie prop, even if they could afford to. But if such a thing were to sell at such a price anywhere, it would be at Barrett-Jackson. And if such a thing were to sell like that to any person, it would be this guy:

Andrew Newton
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    Dude looks like Joe Dirt’s relative. Flashes his tattoo underwear at an auction. Just forgot his mop. He looks to be perfect for this car.

    Not everyone with money has class. Not everyone poor is dirt. It’s that human condition, donchakno?

    Dirt Daytona will garner at lot of attention at a lot of places, if that is your thing.

    The money is silly, but so is most of the auction scene.

    Please sir, there are children present.
    D-I-R-T-E? Is that some sort of attempt at a classy spelling?
    The movie was dumbly funny, but this car/guy combo is hilarious.

    It’s hard not to judge the buyer between the “Dirte” tattoo and the Cobra tattoo and his under armor poking out. A fool and his money indeed, buying a movie prop for the price of a house.

    Dude will get more attention at car shows than anyone else, unless the BULLITT Mustang shows up. It’ll buff out…

    Everyone one is giving this poor guy a hard time on his purchase, but he must be doing something right, he had $330,000 to drop on this! How many of you can afford to do that?????

    If you spend that amount of money, the money obviously has no value to the guy. If it has no value. its likely because he didn’t have to work for it…

    talk about stereotyping.root of all evil could mean most anything to reason to hate the chap now is there.

    Paul – I prefer to ignore that fact. How many of us haven’t met someone who is dumb as a sack of hammers and doesn’t even have taste in their mouths …yet after throwing s**t at the wall for long enough. The sad truth is you can sell stupid to stupid but you seem to need that compatible stupid gene to close the deal.Reality TV, just take these pills and you’ll be pert as a rutting buck, physic networks. Absurd yet true and reflected in the collector car market. This is just another example of that. But I’m not going to applaud the …”poor guy” ?…who tossed away 300k. While maybe the guy who nabbed it for 18 and had recognized the ‘ boy are you dumb’ market , is someone I wouldn’t mind meeting. He can afford to buy the next round.

    Well I will still applaud the guy (assuming this was not his live savings) for having accumulated enough disposable income for the “well what the hell” purchase. I do agree that the original purchaser was a genius and would not mind meeting him.

    I would also like to know who the other high bidder(s) was. For all we know there could have multiple bidders up to the high 200s with one or two being as sophisticated as our commenters!

    This just shows that car prices are just insane. Anyone who would pay that needs to be looked at by professionals. I wouldn’t have given you 5% of that. But that’s just my opinion.

    This one sale will distort the Hagerty sales price averages for all ’67 GTXs and ’69 Chargers for years….

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