Basic Mopar: 1972 Dodge Challenger

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From the time the Dodge Challenger “pony car” was introduced in 1970, to the 1972 model year, the bottom had started to fall out of the muscle car market. That impacted cars like the Challenger which offered lots of performance choices. In 1971, you could get a Challenger with a 426 cubic inch Hemi, but the top engine a year later was a 340 V8. This 1972 edition was built to appeal more to the “secretary” sector, with its 318 small-block and automatic transmission. A crusty project, this Dodge is in Lebanon, Missouri, and available here on eBay. With an unmet reserve, the current bid is $3,350. Our thanks to Larry D for another 1970s Mopar tip.

After a good start in 1970, Challenger production fell from 77,000 to 27,000 units the very next year. A new bottom was reached in 1972 at nearly 23,000 copies and – by the time the car was discontinued in 1974 – demand had dropped by another 50%. Versions like the seller’s car comprised two-thirds of Challenger output in 1972 and this car may have been one of the more nicely trimmed ponies to leave a Chrysler factory that year.

There is no indication as to how long this Dodge has been dormant, but long enough to stop running and for rust to begin creeping into various places. The dark green paint on the right front fender doesn’t match the rest of the car, suggesting it has been repainted. On the plus side, the seller says the front and rear frame rails are nice and clean, while the lower quarter panels contain corrosion as does the trunk. The floor pans don’t look particularly good, and the vinyl top apparently has issues, too.

Other than thinking the powertrain is numbers-matching, the seller mentions nothing about its health. The 318 was a good Chrysler motor as was the TorqueFlite transmission, so they should be easily rebuildable at 92,000 miles on the odometer. The front and back seats don’t match as the torn front buckets appear to be finished in vinyl while the back seat is in velour. Upon request, the seller can provide a walkaround video. If you were to buy this car, would you stick with the 318 or go with something having more highway influence?

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. Rw

    Look at that V-Twin A/C compressor.

    Like 2
  2. Dave, Australia

    This old dear deserves stroking to 360 with a nice 4 barrel and extractors. Nice medium sized vehicles, wish they still made them.
    Saw one here in Adelaide Sth Australia 5 years ago

    Like 6
    • Beauwayne5000

      Dynacorn makes a fact repop chassis 17.5k$ or the individual stamped parts so a fix for 70-74 challenger is easy
      Yank engine & Trans drop in Viper V10 or Modern Hemi.
      1 guy on TikTok Mr.Moparman took satellite version & Electrified it – he’s an engineer & 3D printed entire set up it’s been featured at SEMA shows.
      Definitely worth doing a RetroMod prostreet upgrade

      Like 1
      • Grant

        Dynacom was on my list of companies to place an order at after I had won the 1.35 billion jackpot last night. Can you imagine my surprise when some (obviously) undeserving person in Maine had the gall to steal my money!! Anyway, instead of buying an old rust bucket and repairing it, a brand new car like Dynacom offers with modern suspension pieces sounded like a great way to celebrate my win. Not sure of the engine, but probably a standard 318 with maybe a small 4bbl, 4sp, air, power windows, disc brakes all around, a dual exhaust. My son asked me why not go with a modern hemi? I think an old man such as I doesn’t need all that horsepower. Plus, I like the idea of being able to do a roadside repair if need be. Not going to do that with a computer driven modern hemi, that is for sure. I find it amazing that a retired electronic engineer can’t fix a modern engine, but it is true.

        Like 5
  3. MoparMike

    I drove a base model 72 318 Challenger in high school, changed it over to a 4 speed and later transplanted a 340 into it. Enjoyed it a lot all the while wishing I had a 70 or 71 R/T, now that I’ve got and had a number of more desirable Mopars I have to say I’ve never enjoyed them like I did my 72 318 car. I drove it everywhere everyday unless the roads were treated in the winter then I fell back on my $300 1966 C10. Now everything is so valuable and targets of thieves that we barely take them out anymore and never let them out of our sight when we do.

    Like 14
    • John

      I owned a brand new 1971 R/T 383 4bl Carb, Auto. Purple Plum/Black Vinyl top. Kept it until 1974 after my neighbor decided to buy a 1974 Blue White rag top convertible w/440 Hemi short block.
      I became jealous & sold my vehicle. I then got into a 1966 Volvo P1800S.
      That was a fun car to drive. Then the Triumph Stag.. Wish I still had them all.

      Like 1
  4. Maggy

    Up to 4950.Needs way too much work for that kind of $. this car seems like one those rust doesn’t look too bad but once you dip or grind away at it it’s swiss cheese.340 4 speed might be worth the $.

    Like 2
  5. Motorcityman

    I had a lime green 71 Plymouth Barracuda with the 318 and auto back around 1982 in Detroit.
    Good little motor……..I stomped on it one day from a stop and radiator coolant started squirting everywhere!
    Turns out a motor mount broke and the engine lifted up and the fan sliced the upper rad hose just about in half!!
    I was only a few blocks from home so I walked home and got a ride to the auto parts store for a little roadside repair.
    After spending a couple hundred to have a plate welded in the trunk floor so u wouldn’t see the ground anymore when u opened the trunk, a gal rear ended me while I was cruising Telegraph Rd. one Saturday night about 3 weeks later!
    Bent the frame from the rear but it still ran, I sold it for $300 for the motor and other parts.

    Like 4
  6. Paul

    A green on green 318 auto Challenger with rust, tired drivetrain, and worn out interior..(dash pad is garbage)… isn’t worth very much. Yes it’s a first gen E body, but it obviously has issues. I wouldn’t give more than $5k… and that’s if it has it’s original drivetrain still with it.

    Like 2
  7. Steve Sullivan

    Too Cool! I was not only born when this beauty was, but my first Matchbox car (remember when they came literally in a little box?) was a red/white top Challenger!

    While I’m a sucker for the big-cubes big-tire Pro-Street stance… I’d love to scoop this one up and match it to my boyhood Matchbox memory.

    Like 1
  8. Chris Cornetto

    I bought one of these tired 318, auto versions ions ago in the 80s. Dumped a low mileage 440 in a rode around for a few years. Mine not nearly as rusty but a relatively worthless survivor. These 318 cars are not highly desirable in the collector world. Mine will go the part out and scrap route later this year. You will dump more in that that you can buy a decent driving one.

    Like 0
    • MoparMike

      This car is at $6100 with four days remaining, if yours in in better shape or equivalent it would be foolish to your wallet and the potential buyer to scrap it.

      Like 2
  9. Greg

    A 318 one of worst oil burners ever created. They say they designed it for secretaries what a joke. Women didn’t like the style of this car they went for the dart or the scamp. I never saw women driving this car it was always guys they would soup them up their way.

    Like 1
    • Emel

      Yea but what do w’s know about cars. Scamps being proof. lol

      Like 0
    • BONE

      The 318 was not designed for secretaries, it was the base V8 , just like the 302 Ford and the 307 Chevy. The car companies put the base V8s in just about any vehicle they made, from the base compact to the pickup. Do you really think the engineers at Chrysler were thinking of an engine just to sell to a select group of women ? And do you really believe that all women wouldn’t like the style of this car and would only buy an A body ? Your comment about the 318 being “the worst oil burner ever” shows you have little knowledge about the LA 318 , and your comments on what women would want kind of shows you have little knowledge of that too .

      Like 3
      • MoparMike

        Well said BONE! I’ve run 318 all my driving life and still do to a lesser extent and like any other engine from the era they’re a victim of the life they led, some good and some bad.

        Like 3
  10. MoparMike

    No they don’t. I’ve had 318s in my fleet my entire life and yes some high mileage units do consume a little oil but no different than any other high mileage or poorly maintained engines from other manufacturers of the era. I currently have a 78 W100 that gets serviced every 3000 miles and it’s always on the full mark.

    Like 2
  11. Michael

    Scamp was also a dart. Drove one with the 225 everywhere all over Texas. Never gave me any problems. If you fix them right they will out run the 318 cars without a doubt.

    Like 2
  12. MoparMike

    Sold $10,700

    Like 0

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