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The Challenger Hemi R/T SE was bought new in 1969 by combat veteran and Detroit police officer Godfrey Qualls, who equipped it with a four-speed manual, a Gator Grain vinyl roof, a white bumblebee rail stripe, and his own personal touches, including a trailer hitch and an African flag decal on the lower front quarters.
Qualls put the 425-plus-horsepower car to use at the nighttime drag-racing happening up and down streets like Woodward Avenue, clocking win after win for a night or two, then disappearing for weeks or months at a time before resurfacing to race again—hence its “Black Ghost” nickname and mythical status.
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Qualls quit the racing after 1975, and the Challenger became the family car for a few years; by the ’80s, it’d been permanently retired, parked and hidden until 2014, when Godfrey revealed to his son Gregory that the dusty old car in their garage was the Black Ghost.
When cancer took the elder Qualls in 2015, the car’s keys were passed on to Gregory, who the next year tapped friends and family to help get the unrestored 45,000-mile (72,400-km) Dodge running again.
In the time since, the car’s gained quite a following. Dodge itself recently announced a “Black Ghost” trim would be among the seven 2023-model-year “Last Call” special editions that would see the Challenger name off as the model gets discontinued. Just 300 examples of the new car – which will also wear a vinyl-roof pattern and white stripe – will be built, with each retailing at US$99,000 before options.
The original 1970 Black Ghost will be sold by the younger Qualls at Mecum’s Spring Classic event, held May 12 through 20, 2023 in Indianapolis. The firm has not released any pre-auction estimates on sale price, but Mecum Vice President of Consignments Frank Mecum told Hemmings that the car’s value “is well into seven figures.” While a small handful of convertible Challengers have sold for that much before, a hardtop Challenger has yet to crack the million-dollar mark, at least publicly. Insurance company Hagerty’s valuation tools suggest a regular Hemi R/T – not an SE – with a four-speed would top out just north of USD$500,000 in perfect condition.