Beautiful Project: 1960’s LaDawri Daytona

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While it’s a big project, this LaDawri is an incredibly tempting find to undertake. You simply don’t find these Daytonas in any condition often, so when one pops up, it’s worth a look. And unlike a few of the other LaDawris we’ve seen, this one is more than just a bare body. It appears to be missing its engine, but the body is riding on a chassis and complete suspension. So, if you’ve been hunting for a truly unique project, you can find this Daytona here on craigslist in Pelham, New Hampshire with a $4,000 asking price.

Here you can see what remains of the interior and there’s not much here. You can also see the frame, rusty floors, and seat frames. I don’t see signs of a transmission, but if the engine is gone, it would make sense that the transmission would be gone as well. Can any of our eagle-eyed readers identify the frame rail and what car it came from?


It looks like there is some body damage that will need to be repaired, but overall, it looks to be in solid shape. Without a closer look or at least more photos, it’s hard to say what all this car will need to be put back on the road. The Chevrolet badge on the rear suggests the car had a Chevrolet engine in, so would you put a small block V8 back into this LaDawri or would you put something more exotic into this beautiful body?

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  1. Brakeservo

    I’ve had two LaDawri cars, one with a 392 Hemi, the other a 409 Chevy. Built late 50s and early 60s respectively. Both incredibly overpowered and dangerous – just as we loved ’em! Bought the Hemi car from a lawyer in Portland – he was afraid to let me even drive it until after the deal was done and I executed a hold harmless in his favor!

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    • DayDreamBeliever DayDreamBeliever

      Heh, heh, heh….

      Some of us still love ’em that way!

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  2. healeydays
  3. Dave at OldSchool Restorations

    If you have never seen one, these are big cars, about the size of a Gen1 Corvette. Same as the LaDawri Conquest, with a redesigned grill opening.
    “Rotted” not ‘rusted’ floors… they were made from plywood. Missing? the
    molded dash ? will be hard to find
    Having restored several, the common chassis was early 50’s Henry J with Ford bits added.
    Not much legroom in these cars, and a high seating position due to the chassis kickup being under the seating area, putting one’s head near the top of the windshield.
    HEAVY body, unlike the Devins and Victress , the LaDawri bodies were pretty good at not warping and retaining their shape, and other than a myriad of hairline cracks, they are not difficult to repair correctly.

    Most common engines were Y-Block and sbc. Big engines left little room for the feet and pedal area, and are too heavy, making the cars unstable. Few if any have been actually documented as roadraced in period ( pre 1960), although there are some Vintage racing now that are prepared well beyond that period and handle well.

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  4. Wayne

    Dave at OldSchool Restorations, I agree with the Henry J frame/chassis. As is also looks like Henry J front hubs. If not for current projects, I would take this on. I would use a period Ford Y-Block or Dodge Poly V8 . It would be a fun project.

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    • Dave at OldSchool Restorations

      Y Block or Dodge … ??

      the 283 Chev is a better choice for several reasons. lighter, EASIER and CHEAPER to build , and resale will be a lot better as the swbc is more desriablemore desirable. For later than ’59, get cheap super-performance, put the 283 crank in a .040 327 and end up with a real rpm maker.

      Everything we did became coil and 4link/panhard in the back and that lowered the seating position so you look through the windshield

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  5. Wayne

    Dave at OldSchool Restorations, I realize what you are saying. (I have had several SBCs in my days playing with cars.) I am just tired of seeing a SBC, or LS, or SBF. I want to see something different. I would even consider a twin turbo charged flat head V8 Ford or if there is room a supercharged 235 6cyl. Chevy. Maybe a Studebaker V8. Just something that shows some independent, open minded thinking. Anyone can find, build or buy a SBC. I would like to hear other peoples “original/different ideas for an engine.

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    • Dave at OldSchool Restorations

      I get that. I am prone to retaining period correctness, so that the car is eligible for Vintage racing,

      Studebaker V8 is a good choice, I am building a 289 + .060 for the Holman Moody Lark tribute, and they are an under appreciated engine ( 259 or 289)
      For pre 59 in the Ladawri I would consider the Packard 352 , but finding manual trans , bellhousing,& flywheel, and performance parts is hard and costly. I have been looking for stuff for the one I have here for years.

      I have done early Chrysler Hemis, but too heavy, and also costly parts, although the parts ARE available.

      Forget the 235 Chevy, but the early GMC 6 inline 302cu in Jimmy is a great choice for grunt…that’s what was in my ’47 Chev fastback on our website

      Like 1
      • bruce carey

        Hey Dave,

        I bought the 60 conquest off the barn find email..a couple of weeks ago. It came with a juiced up rocket 88 and a 3 speed lasalle tranny. This car came with so much written information that i never get when i buy a v-16 Not running but it will when i recieve her. my question to you is how far can i go with her as to not take away the documented history

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  6. Brakeservo

    My Hemi powered La Dawri had a shortened Plymouth chassis but that old 392’s torque would noticably twist the frame! The 409 car had a shortened Chevy chassis and the tires surrendered their grip frequently.

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  7. Tony T

    “Gulf” colors

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  8. Dave at OldSchool Restorations Dave at OldSchool Restorations North AlabamaMember

    @bruce carey The Olds/Lasalle makes the car . Read Les’ Instuction Manual so you understand whow and why it is done the way it is, then remove the body, and rebuild the plywood/fiberglass floors. Don’t remove the doors , hood or trunk. Use 1 1/2 oz mat in first layer for best adhesion, before using any woven cloth or tape..
    Finish the chassis and drivetrain…reinstall the body.
    You might consider vapor blasting the body and finishing it before it’s re-installed, I can’t tell from the pictures just how bad it is
    If you use period correct stuff , it will remain correct… but that is a call you have to make, after deciding what your end use will be. Call me 256 507 3328 if you want to 8am-8pm Central time

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  9. bruce carey

    Thanks Dave,

    I will be calling you when the car arrives.



    Like 0

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