Cars » Sam Stanley's 1965 Daytona Coupe

Parents have been known to nudge their kids to complete projects, but for Sam Stanley, it was the other way around.

It was his daughter, Tara, who suggested that he get a new body and chassis for the 1967 Firebird motor he’d had sitting on a stand in his garage for decades. And so, circa June 2009 — around the time his daughter was finishing high school — Stanley and Tara began working on what would - seven years later - finally become his dream racing machine.

Stanley says his vehicle, which was be featured in the 2015 Detroit Autorama, is “a brand new car,” but he also calls it a 1965 Daytona Coupe. For the longtime car lover — a consulting actuary by day — the road to Autorama has been pitted with more potholes than the average metro Detroit street.

Stanley got a 1967 Pontiac Firebird in the 1980s, hoping to bring it back to life. But while the exterior of the car was at a body shop, it was stolen, leaving Stanley with nothing but the motor and drive train. Later, Stanley’s beloved 1968 Pontiac GTO — which he’d owned since the 1970s and had dreamed of getting admitted to Autorama — was destroyed in a fire.

With his daughter’s encouragement and help, in June 2009 Stanley got a Factory Five Racing replica kit of the 1965 Shelby Daytona Cobra Coupe and worked on that, initially incorporating the rebuilt Firebird engine into the vehicle. When his daughter left for college in 2010, he continued to work on the car in "his half" of a two car garage, only finishing it recently. His Daytona Coupe is custom painted House of Kolors Jet Black with HOK Neon Chartreuse racing stripes.

Except for the paint and the motor, “I’ve done all the work myself,” Stanley said. Sam has brought it to events such as the Detroit Autorama, the Harper Cruise and the Woodward Dream Cruise, and the Woodward Dream Cruise Car Show.

Sam's Daytona Coupe's theme is that it's a real, SCCA sanctioned and documented road racing car, but also street legal and "streetable". Its SCCA classification is "Super Production" which means that it conforms to all the GT-1 rules. It has a custom full roll cage, and too many other custom features to list here.

“It’s really a cool-looking car,” Stanley said. “It’s a real 21st-century race car.”

Although Sam's original concept was to use his 1967 Pontiac Ram Air I motor from his Firebird that was stolen, and that motor performed fine as it was designed (360 hp) Sam wanted MORE POWER! That's when he turned to Butler Performance. Butler helped Sam to custom design a complete new state of the art 461 cid power plant for his Daytona Coupe, the biggest, baddest motor he could fit in that little car. With Butler's help and advice, Sam stuffed a huge new Butler Pontiac power plant in that tiny chassis! Sam's new Butler Performance motor is built with an iron block, Edelbrock aluminum heads and a custom grind, hydraulic roller lifter camshaft. With such a small, light car (2,400 lbs.) Butler built the perfect motor for Sam's coupe. Scary quick but still perfectly streetable! With a weight to power ratio of 4.75/1, Butler's power plant definitely puts Sam's car in the supercar class!

Sam says "It was dyno'd at the factory (Butler Performance) at 522 horsepower, 577 ft/lbs of torque, at 4500 rpm, so all that power and torque is actually usable without having to spin the motor real fast! Really snappy and loves to wind! Awesome!"