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Original Paint: 1973 Dodge Challenger Desert Find

Dodge was a hold-out coming to the pony car party. Whereas the Ford Mustang and Plymouth Barracuda started the ball rolling in 1964, the Dodge Challenger wouldn’t arrive until the 1970 model year. It would share its underpinnings with the newly redesigned Barracuda and would see five years in production. The Challenger would become a Japanese import for 1978-83 and then an offshoot of the Charger beginning in 2008. This 1973 Challenger has been sitting in a feed shack for the past seven years and – while it looks pretty well baked – it’s in running order now. The Dodge is located in Cave Creek, Arizona and available here on eBay where the no reserve auction sits at $12,600.

The first-generation Challenger is prized by collectors today, especially those that either haven’t rusted away or have mammoth powerplants. This 1973 edition is neither, just cooked from being out in the dry desert. When the car was first introduced in 1970, sales were brisk at 77,000 units. However, by 1973, the pony car market was cooling off and the car only saw 28,000 copies that year. Often overlooked in the quest for muscle machines, the 318 cubic inch V-8 with automatic tranny was a good combination. This car wears what’s left of its original red paint and the black (we assume) vinyl top is long since gone. But save for dents in the right front fender and driver’s door and the surface rust, the body looks good. The chrome and glass also seem to pass muster and the undercarriage is rather clean.

New upholstery, carpeting and a dash pad may be all that is required for the interior. The seller removed the seats to no doubt check out the floorboards and they all look solid. We’re told that the car was driven over from California around 2013 and then parked in a feed shack. The seller recently acquired it through a “tractor and gun” trade and then pulled it home. After changing the tires and fluids, he was able to get it running and says it performs well compared to its prior self.

We’re told the drivetrain is generally tight now with no oil leaks, although one of the freeze plugs is seeping and will need replacing. The master cylinder could use also stand being renewed and we’re told some of the wiring needs attention, but we don’t know exactly what that will entail. Tracking down electrical issues can sometimes be a real pain, so an email to the seller might prove enlightening.

A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the car will go to a charity that builds homes for American veterans, so its good to see someone giving back. At 78,000 reported miles, the Dodge should drive nice with power steering and brakes, but it did not come with factory air conditioning. The 1973 Challenger had larger bumper guards than its predecessors, but not nearly as garish as what would come for 1974. The seller has taken a video of the car for your perusal. While the ’73 Challenger no longer had fire breathers like the 426 Hemi under the hood, they still command good coin today. Perhaps with a new paint job and interior work, this could easily be a $20,000-plus car.



  1. RGSmith1 Member

    Oh, the cars we wish we had hung on to! Bought a ’73 brand new when I returned from overseas duty. Silver with a black vinyl top. 318 and a 3 speed on the floor. No road burner but actually got decent gas mileage on my trip from NJ to WA. A good thing too, as it was during the gas rationing era. Had lots of fun with it.

    Like 9
  2. Cncbny

    Paint it white Kowalski!

    Like 6
    • Angrymike

      Yup, add a nicely built 440, or Hemi if so inclined, and paint it white. I’m definitely in on that one.

      Like 1
    • Paul Bushaw

      I was just thinking of that movie today

      Like 2
  3. Jasper

    Had the 1/64 scale Playart die cast of this car. Very cool. Like a time capsule from the ‘80s. Really like these sensible spec. versions. Used to get excited about the hotted up R/Ts and T/As with big motors, scoops, stripes and rally wheels. But these are the rarity now. Hope it gets treated nice, not idealized or over restored.

    Like 5
  4. Da Doctor

    You get all the snakes out of it?

    Like 1
  5. Big Grouch

    Some will argue that the 1964-66 Barracuda was a pony car. It seems to fit the definition. Just my two cents.

    Like 2
  6. Gremlin X

    These 318 Challengers used to be dirt cheap. Bought a ’70 back in the mid-80s for 700 bucks. It was worth about that too. Rusty, not a very good performer, not all that fun to drive. You can mod them for a lot of pep but at 13,100, the buyer will be into it north of 30 grand before all is said and done. Not sure if Millennials and those Gen Yers or whatever they’re called are going to dig a 1973 318 Mopar when you go to sell it in 5 years. We’ll see.

  7. Steve Clinton

    ‘A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the car will go to a charity that builds homes for American veterans.’ That is the only reason to buy this car…depending on how big the portion will be.

    Like 3
  8. PetertheGreat

    Bought a new ’70 big block with a rare gold with black vinyl top combo and 3 speed Slap Stick auto. Got bagged by CHP helicopter for doing 134 mph. Sold it for a bag of magic beans in 1984 after buying a ’68 Corvette ragtop with a transplanted L46 350/350 and a 4×4. Thought I had too many cars in the driveway. Looking back… you can never have too many cars in the driveway when one is a classic Mopar. Somebody kick me!!

    Like 2
  9. Frogwarts Member

    “Absolutely rust free” according to the seller. What is that hole at the bottom of the rear window/vinyl top moulding on drivers side in the last picture? Just asking.

    Like 1
  10. AMCFAN

    Crazy money for a 73 with a 318 that will still need everything. These have always been the red headed stepchildren in collectors circles. Retro fitting another engine you can’t hide from the vin as it’s specific. Regardless when it’s said or done one could buy a newer Challenger with a Hemi already in place that you can drive anywhere right now.

  11. JBD

    We used to buy these cars as beaters for under a grand. Good basic transportation was the theme. Now you can dump 6 figures into a used car…and still have a used car.

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