Ratty Driver: 1970 Dodge Charger 500

This is the type of car that will grab your attention at first glance. Upon further inspection, though, you see a car in need of some serious work. Even so, beneath that flashy first impression resides a project with great potential. Found here on eBay, this ratty driver is an intriguing project.

Under the hood, you’ll find a period correct 383 that’s been punched out to a 390. In the process, it’s been filled up with go-fast goodies and likely performs as well as it looks. The seller is upfront in saying that it does have an oil leak, caused by the windage tray. Even so, it appears as though this project has some decent mechanical work already done. This powerplant is backed by a 727 transmission and a 3.91 Sure Grip rear end.

If you’re like me, you probably didn’t expect to see this interior in a “ratty driver”. It may not be perfect in person but it sure looks nice from the pictures. The listing says that the interior needs to be finished but from this vantage point, it doesn’t appear to need a great deal of work.

This picture begins to show why this one is called a ratty driver. I’m not sure why only the left rear quarter panel looks that way, while the rest of the car looks at least presentable. Could less-than quality repair work have been done long ago on only the particular part of the car? At any rate, I’m a big fan of the Go Mango color and it’d be nice to see that part of the car at least freshened up match the rest.

Some enthusiasts will see this as a car in need of immediate cosmetic restoration, while others would probably be okay with just driving it how it is. In its current shape, it really does have a certain cool factor. It’s obvious that this Charger will continue to deteriorate but one could get a lot of good miles out of it before it really needs restoration. So, what would you do with this car? Restore it or just drive it? And is it worth the $16,500 opening bid price?

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Comments

  1. CapNemo CapNemo Member

    I like this. Almost think I’d just fix that oil leak and drive it as it is.

    8
  2. Rube Goldberg

    No mention of Dukes of Hazzard? SMH. Here’s one of the cars the producers must have missed. Some estimates claim they ruined 325 Chargers in the shows run, although most say it was more like 255. YEE-HAW!!! ( notice, they never show the car AFTER the jump. They had a body shop crew that turned out like 5 General Lee’s a week, and was not uncommon to use all 5 up in one episode filming)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ei7XcUXphJk

    1
    • Col Patrick Montgomery Member

      321 were trashed on that show.

      1
    • CanuckCarGuy

      Looking at the left rear quarter panel, it looks like someone took stripper to it given the uniformity of the ‘finish’…yet the Dodge decal somehow survived the debacle. Make it safe and drive the snot out of it!

  3. Dave

    Kinda funny, by some of the pics, it looks like an HO scale mock-up,

  4. MarkinWNC

    I might be wrong but didn’t the Charger 500 have the same rear window treatment as the Super Bird?

    2
    • Arthell64 Member

      You’re thinking of the 69 charger 500 which had the same rear window as a Daytona. The 70 charger 500 has the same rear window a regular charger.

      1
  5. JACKinNWPA Member

    I might try to blend The quarter panel to match the rest of the car and just drive it, if it’s safe, runs well, and is comfortable to drive then I’d enjoy it like that. Like my Javelin, Most people I meet say don’t you dare paint it. One thing is for sure you wouldn’t need to worry about that first paint chip.

    4
    • leiniedude leiniedude Member

      Jack, don’t you dare paint it!!!!!!!!!!

      4
    • TimS Member

      Yours is an exception to my rule stated below, probably because it looks like a race car. “Patina” works in this case. I second leinedude.

      2
  6. Tempo Matador Ray

    Love it 👍 A no nonsense driver…

    2
  7. BrianZ

    I like it the way it is. Fix the A/C, oil leak, trunk pan and frame rail. Properly patch and primer any rust holes then leave the patina as is and enjoy. Good luck to seller and buyer.

    • TimS Member

      “Patina” on most anything other than a work truck or a race car straight off the track is just plain old neglect.

      3
  8. Woody

    Interior looks great and body is the only issue,I’m sure the big block Mopar would get your attention!

    1
  9. Gary Looper

    is that a 500?

  10. JohnfromSC

    Not so sure how far you get down the road if you punch it hard. That rear is really rusted and no trunk sheet metal. Couldn’t make out front unibody “sub frame” but I bet it is compromised as well. And who knows if the vinyl roof is all that’s holding the rear window in!

    I love the look, but this one absolutely calls for an in- face inspection. I suspect that’s why no bids yet with one day to go.

    2
    • MTK

      I’m not sure there is a vinyl roof, it looks like someone removed the vinyl and painted the roof black.

  11. TimM

    Interior and mechanicals are done well but a ton of body work on this car!! A guess the price is not to bad so far considering the amount these fetch when fixed up!!!

  12. Geoff

    It’s kind of like a mullet. Business in the front, party in the back.

    2
  13. Eric Murphy

    I would drive it as is. I’ve been looking for a moonshine, I mean, pizza delivery car

    4
  14. Clipper

    If I left it as-is…that left rear quarter would still bother me. The rest I could easily leave as-is. But I’d consider trying to “fauxpatina” that panel back up to the rest of the car somehow. Stabilize the rust, strengthen anything structural…and make the underside so clean you can eat off of it. Oh yeah, and fix that *&#$! engine oil leak.

  15. Robert White

    This car is NOT a driver in that it needs full restoration before one cracks the frame & destroys the car for good. Bolting on horse power onto an aged car that needs restoration is unwise. Everything on it has to be solid sheet metal before the HPs are tested out. All bushings need replacement. Tie rods & front end needs to be aligned and rebuilt. Rear diff & gears need an inspection as does the transmission, steering box, shifter set up, et cetera.

    This car is a full restoration without any doubt. Driving it after the windage tray is fixed will just lead to more damage that will need repair later. Better to start off with a full rebuild to be safe.

    Bob

    7
  16. Col Patrick Montgomery Member

    I see Gen. Lee recreation here. While not a 69 RT, most would never figure out the difference, I just bid $18,k on it.

    3
  17. FordGuy1972

    Have to agree with Bob on this one. You absolutely have to repair what’s structurally needed and I’d certainly repair the rusty panels and then paint the whole car. I’ve owned my fair share of cars that looked like this one and either took care of the cosmetics or got rid of it for something better. Right now this desirable Mopar looks like a beater. It has a fresh motor and a pretty nice interior so just finish the job.

    3
  18. Woody

    Still under $18,000.My take for the Mopar would be big block horsepower.Exterior will always be the factor when purchasing and driving this relic while repairing panels, and…….

    1
  19. Sal

    With your strict demands I can tell some of you guys only own one car….
    How else would you have the time to finish a full rotisserie restoration on car that is only going to be used occasionally on sunny days for beer runs and car shows?

    I also wonder why the price is so low? I have seen plenty of completely clapped out, actually unsafe Chargers that sold for the same $$.

  20. Col Patrick Montgomery Member

    I already bid $25k on this car will go to $40k.

  21. Saabist

    Just a quick question from the other side of the pond , what’s a windage tray ?

  22. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    That you Col Patrick Montgomery? Ended: Aug 23, 2019 , 9:29PM
    Winning bid:US $25,300.00
    [ 29 bids ]

  23. Clipper

    After looking at the other photos on Ebay (including underside)…I think someone picked up a nice Charger here for the money. Looks like all mechanicals have been taken care of. I assume it’s structurally sound too (appears to be). They can safely drive as-is, or perform a full restoration to suit. Well sold and bought IMHO.

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