Credit: Original article published by Classic Cars Journal.
The Chrysler Corporation may have been #3 in Detroit but, in Scottsdale, it’s often #1. The most expensive muscle cars in the world are Mopars. Even finned Exner cruisers have achieved heights that most Tri-Five Chevys only dream of.
Like previous Barrett-Jackson auctions, Mopars captured the attention of spectators and bidders alike with some of the most desirable muscle cars around. And it’s not just original muscle cars that collectors are clamoring for — restomods have a warm place with collectors too. Here’s a look at a few of the top sellers.
1973 Dodge Challenger Custom Coupe
Sure, Mopar fans tend to eschew the “Sad-Mouth” 1972-74 Challengers, but look closely at its mug and you’ll see some 1970 and late-model Challenger along with the 1973. Out back, the 2008-14 taillights are used to good effect. Built by Streamline Custom Designs, the Slate Gray “Chastizer” had its coming-out at the MagnaFlow booth at the 2021 SEMA Show. Motivation comes from a bored and stroked 6.4-liter Hemi V8 with Magnuson supercharger, all backed by a four-speed automatic. There’s tons more to the build than that, which you can read in the auction entry, but you can bet everything on it is first-rate. Someone agreed, as (s)he was willing to pay $242,000.
1969 Dodge Hemi Charger 500
This one was impressive. As the first of Dodge’s homologation specials, the 1969 Charger 500 featured a flush Coronet grille and backlite (the latter normally featured flying buttresses) to make the vehicle more slippery and have less turbulence. Dodge sent 580 Charger R/Ts to Creative Industries to receive the aforementioned modifications, which also included a chrome A-pillar cover. Initially, the Charger 500 was going to be built with the 426 Hemi, but cooler heads prevailed and the standard engine was the same as the R/T’s, a 375-horsepower 440 Magnum. This Hemi car is one of 120 built and features the TX9 Black with V8R red bumblebee stripe color combination, perhaps the most desirable combination for collectors. Options include the A32 Super Performance Axle Package, which was a nice upgrade from the standard 3.23 gears and included TorqueFlite automatic, 4.10 gears with Dana rear, Sure-Grip differential, power disc brakes, and seven-blade fan and 26-inch hi-po radiator (both which were included with the Hemi). Inside, you’ll find Rallye gauges, black buckets with buddy seat and armrest. For $341,000, this could have been yours.
1969 Plymouth Road Runner Custom Coupe
The 1969 Plymouth Road Runner stole the sales crown from the Pontiac GTO in 1969 (as did the Chevelle SS 396), which was quite an achievement for a company that late to the party with an image car. A convertible was added to the roster, plus more performance options were available, including a vacuum-operated air induction system called Coyote Duster. The Road Runner also won Motor Trend magazine’s coveted Car of the Year award. Yep, it was good to be a Plymouth in 1969 … and in 2023 too! This 1969 Road Runner hardtop is powered by a 6.1-liter Hemi V8 with STS twin turbos and shifted by T56 six-speed manual transmission. A Control Freaks suspension and Wilwood DynaPro disc brakes bring the ‘Runner up to contemporary specs. The custom interior, finished by Sew Fine, consists of an all-metal dashboard and custom console complemented by Speed Hut gauges. It took $231,000 to take this home.
1948 Dodge Power Wagon Custom Pickup
Alrighty, a Mopar cut from a different cloth. The Power Wagon was based on Dodge’s military truck (as if it isn’t obvious). This example, originally from Montana, received both a frame-off restoration and a custom build that melds old with new. The engine is a Cummins 5.9-liter turbodiesel six bored 0.20 over decorated with polished intake manifold and valve covers. Cooling comes from a custom Walker Davis aluminum radiator. The transmission is a Getrag five-speed mated to a 205 New Process transfer case, with the power delivered via Dana 70 (rear) and Dana 60 (front) axles with 3.54 ratios. A peek inside will show you custom leather seats, Classic Bomber 8 Series gauges, carpeted flooring, power windows (utilizing the original classic window crank), modern stereo with Bluetooth, and Vintage Air system. If there’s a Mopar that is mighty, this is it. This Power Wagon cost $236,500 for the pleasure of owning.
2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon
It may be difficult to keep track for those not into new cars, but the Demon was the most potent of the extreme late-model Challengers. Just when you thought the SRT-8 was cool, along came the Hellcat, and then Dodge had to outdo itself with 840-horsepower wide-body Demon. Only produced for 2018, the Demon is the ultimate street-legal Challenger so, if you missed out, this was your chance to buy a new one. Finished in Billet Silver with matte black hood, the supercharged 6.2-liter Hemi was only available with an eight-speed ZF 8HP automatic. In addition, this vehicle comes with the Demon Crate, a package that included a power control module, hydraulic tire jack, fender cover, and so much more. This particular Demon had only 43 miles on it and still had plastic on the driver’s seat. That investment from five years ago netted $242,000. Considering MSRP started at $85,000, that’s quite a handsome profit.
1971 Plymouth ‘Cuda
The darling of the muscle car world, the 1971 ‘Cuda was not well-liked when new, seen as having had a heavy-handed facelift, but my how times have changed. Aside from the cheese grater grille and fender gills, what attracts many to the ’71 ‘Cuda are the number of options to dress it up such as rubber bumpers, “Billboard” stripes, and spoilers front and rear. There are some who will appreciate that this In Violet 440-6 car isn’t dolled up with all those doodads, but everyone will appreciate the optional Shaker hood. $275,000 for an old Plymouth four-speed? You betcha!
1970 Plymouth Hemi‘Cuda
Compare this car to the above ‘Cuda. The 1970 is much cleaner but also less in-your-face. In many respects, both of these cars share a lot: FC7 paint, Shaker hood scoop (standard with the Hemi), four-speed manual and no stripes. However, all things being equal, this is a more desirable car due to the Hemi … or is it? I hadn’t compared the two during the auction so there’s no saying which was a better car in terms of originality, correctness or condition, but it seems the big, bad Hemi sold for $258,500 — less than the 440 car above.
1968 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat “C68” Custom
Ever see those Corvettes that have been rebodied to look like a C1? This is the Mopar version of that. The impetus for this project was to combine a contemporary vehicle with the classic appearance of a vintage vehicle. As such, this project started out as a 2021 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye Jailbreak, and then eXoMod collaborated with designers and carbon fiber manufacturers to create a custom body that would turn the new-age Chally into something with the look and feel of a vintage 1968 Charger (including an identical wheelbase, though the Charger body is four inches wider than a real ‘68). A team of six spent 2,400 man-hours transforming the Challenger into a Silver Sepia Charger. Horsepower is 807 that, when combined with its carbon fiber weight reduction (450 pounds — that’s a 10% reduction!), may make this Challenger-cum-Charger faster than a Challenger Demon. The 583-mile special build cost the winning bidder $247,500.
1970 Plymouth Superbird (white)
You know the drill: Richard Petty left Plymouth for Ford in 1969, and the Superbird brought him back for 1970. But dealerships ended up getting shafted because new NASCAR rules required one car for every two dealerships, creating a glut of over 1,900 Superbirds that few wanted to own. They were available in seven colors: Blue Fire, Alpine White, Lemon Twist, Tor Red, Vitamin C, Limelight and “Petty Blue,” though there were three or four accidentally painted in other colors. Standard was a 440 Super Commando — a first for the Road Runner — with the 440 Six Barrel and 426 Hemi as options. Interestingly, white seems to be the most popular color for these homologation specials. This example has the V-code 440 Six Barrel backed by the 727 TorqueFlite. What’s interesting about this one is the matching white bench seat, which must be quite a rare color combination among Superbirds. When the gavel fell, the new owner spent $401,500 for the honor.
1970 Yellow Superbirds (440 Six Barrel and 426 Hemi)
There were two Lemon Twist Superbirds at Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale for 2023. They each had a particular story that were completely different from each other. The 440 car features an ultra-low 1,029 miles and is backed by a Pistol Grip four-speed, which means it also had the Dana rear. No info whether it was in original condition or restored. The cost of entry to own a car like this was $550,000.
In comparison, the other yellow car was built with a TorqueFlite-equipped 426 Hemi, as evidenced by the “R” in the VIN, though the engine in this vehicle was not the original one to the car. The restoration relied on NOS parts whenever possible, so in some respects it’s like the car above — a car that’s best as a trophy than a driver. Prevailing wisdom suggests 135 Hemi Superbirds were built, but NASCAR documents show 93 built. Either way, a Superbird with two levels of homologation (aerodynamics and engine) is always going to be an expensive vehicle and, as such, it cost $605,000 to own it.