I grew up a car guy for several reasons, not the least of which were two older car-guy brothers. Their influence had me reading about muscle cars, with a particular focus on Mopars, before I was 15. I was well schooled in all the various Mopar muscle cars before I got my driver’s permit, and while I gravitated toward the Plymouth Superbird and GTX I also had the same fondness for E-bodies that every Mopar fan has. The Dodge Challenger and Plymouth Barracuda are two of the most iconic muscle cars ever created.
I’ve never owned a Plymouth Barracuda, but I’ve had two original Dodge Challengers. The first one, a 1973 Dodge Challenger Rallye, was purchased in 1991, during my last year in college. It was equipped about as well as that year’s Challenger could be, with a 340 V8, pistol-grip 4-speed transmission and factory air conditioning. It was also an original B5 Blue car with a black vinyl top, though when I got it the top was stripped off and the roof was painted black.
While my Dodge Challenger Rallye was a complete and running car it had several issues. First, every single major body panel had some form of damage. Maybe it was a deep gouge. Maybe it was a sizable dent. Maybe it was heavily scraped. The type of body damage wasn’t consistent, but its thoroughness was. The Challenger actually still looked relatively good…from a distance…if you didn’t look too closely.
The interior was similarly showing its age, with a drooping headliner, ripped seats and fraying carpet. This particular Dodge Challenger Rallye came equipped with a center console, which was in pretty good shape. Same with the dash and door panels, all of them were relatively free of wear or damage. And, after my brothers fixed the shift linkage and tuned the engine, the Challenger was pretty quick while its braking and handling were well sorted too. I replaced the carpet and installed slip-on seat covers.
I paid just $1,800 for the Challenger Rallye and I sold it after about a year for $2,000. I hadn’t put more than $200 in it so I didn’t really lose money. I really enjoyed that Challenger Rallye, but the thought of taking on its needed body repairs was too much for me. I sold it to a friend who happened to be an auto body man, and 6 months later I saw it again just before he sold it. Of course at that point it looked amazing and I wished I hadn’t let it go.
Thankfully, I’d get another vintage Dodge Challenger about 13 years later…