Big Block Project: 1970 Dodge Challenger

Considering the emphasis that Dodge placed on performance in the 1960s, it’s surprising they were the last major manufacturer to join the pony car race. Even AMC got there ahead of Dodge. However, the wait was worth it because the finished product is still in demand today, having shared its platform with the all-new Barracuda for 1970. This first-year copy with the Sports Edition (SE) package is going to need a lot of help – both physically and mechanically – but it looks like a worthwhile project. The car resides in Amberg, Wisconsin and is available here on eBay. The current bidding is $6,100, but the reserve hasn’t yet been met.

Purists may argue that 1970 Challengers were the best of the lot because there were up to nine engines available to suit both the sporty grandma and her hot-rodding nephew. The 225 Slant-Six and the 318 V-8 were for grandma, and the rest for “Eddie.” He could choose from the 340 (275 hp), three versions of the 383 (290, 330, or 335 hp), two 440s (4-barrel or Six-Pack at 375 and 390 hp, respectively), and – the granddaddy of them all – the 426 Hemi (425 hp). And these cars could be had with crazy paint jobs, like Plum Crazy, Top Banana, and Panther Pink.

This is not the first time this car has appeared for sale on eBay. It’s a non-running 1970 Challenger SE with a 383 under the hood, but it’s not the original engine and may not be the original displacement, either. There are 55,000 miles on the odometer, which surely is applicable to at least the TorqueFlite automatic. The appearance of the car suggests it’s been sitting for years, likely outdoors and some of it in Colorado. The paint (Bright Green Poly?) has plenty of patina and may have had a vinyl top at some point. We suspect you’ll find some rust to eradicate if you dig deep enough. SE models were dressier than standard editions, so the upholstery is snappier, but the carpeting is missing.

Out of 83,000 Challengers built for 1970, just 6,600 of them were SE models, regardless of the engine choice. Because there was so much variety available with these cars, they run the gamut on resale value today. Considering it wasn’t a Hemi, a 440, an R/T, or a T/A, one in Fair condition is worth maybe $15,000. This one would need work to get to Fair, but all the way to Concours might make it a $40,000 car.


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  1. irocrobb

    This car is almost exactly the same as the first car I bought in the USA and imported to Canada. 1986 OR 1987. Mine was the same colour,year and yes a SE model. But,mine was a 318 car originally
    I still remember how ticked off I was when I pulled up at the border with the car on a trailer. They insisted I pay 100 bucks air conditioning tax on the vehicle even though it had no motor,transmission or radiator in it . All it had remaining of the factory air was the control on the dash
    .And I should mention the car I bought was in far better shape than this one and a hell of a lot cheaper


    Like 1
  2. Joe Machado

    Looks like a nicer Plum in background under canopy.
    So, big block wat?
    Not a Cevy wide valve cover car.
    Who is buying it? Have fun

  3. Bultaco

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think that all Challengers with the SE package had vinyl roofs because they had the smaller rear window, which was accomplished with a “plug” in the opening where the regular sized window would have been.

    Like 10
    • Skorzeny


      Like 1
  4. irocrobb

    The 2 SE Challengers I had both had vinyl roofs. They had kind of a funky velvet headliner with a overhead console which housed a door ajar, seatbelt warning and I think,but not sure low fuel warning. The one I had the vinyl was burned off and there was a plug in the back to make the window smaller. Kind of a silly idea in my books

    Like 2
  5. RobA

    Cool car to see. I love the look with a flat hood, no stripes, and a non high impact color. Almost every single one by this point has been cloned. This would look great restored to original with a set of wheel covers.

    Like 2
  6. Greg

    Unless you can do 85% of the restoration yourself it would not be worth it. I restored a 1970 Challenger RT/SE, 383, in FY1, and just the cost of the car to start, body work, paint, Chrome, interior (this needs a new dash or restore), and this list continues, you will be into much more than the value.

    Like 2
  7. Super Glide

    I love Challengers, but my 70 440 R/T convertible with TorqueFlite had a small problem. The body bent from the torque. You find that out when you put air shocks on the back and level them out, just to find out that the front end is no longer level. Adjusting the torsion bars doesn’t help, it only created a vicious circle of insanely adjusting front and back several times. Moral of the story, don’t install air shocks while drinking beer.

    I learned to live with it.

    Like 1
    • Greg

      @Super Glide Where did you see the body twist? I have a ’70 R/T, 440 Big block, with a TorqueFlite transmission, Convertible Challenger with Air Shocks. The air shocks leak so the rear height is low unless I inflate before I drive it. I have not seen any body twist issues yet, and no signs in the paint cracking because of it. Just curious where you noticed it. TYIA Greg

  8. bone

    I guess it was better than ripped up vinyl, but that seat upholstery looks like it came from some 1980s Grand AM


    Its true the comment Russ made “even AMC got ahead of Chrysler in the pony car race” So much so Dodge and Plymouth didn’t stand a chance in the Trans American Series. With Penske and Donohue in the Javelin they ruled Trans Am racing with essentially a new car. Prior to the duo in 1968 AMC with the Javelin a new car. A new team, No aftermarket support and a single four bbl carb nearly knocked the Ford Motor Company out of second place. With a record that still stands. The Javelin finished every race it started.

    Like 1

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