While other cars were grabbing the headlines at Monterey two weeks ago, RM Auctions hit a big number for the original Dodge Charger , a concept car first displayed in 1964. The Charger sold for $1.1 million dollars. At that, however, the car brought less than the pre-auction estimate, which had predicted bids between $1.5 and $2.0 million.
The price, however, actually seems astronomical for what is, in many ways, a production based show car. Unlike the Oldsmobile F-88 and Pontiac Bonneville which sold were sold at the Scottsdale Barrett-Jackson auctions in the past two years and were completely original designs built for the GM Motorama shows of the fifties, the original Dodged Charger was built from a production Dodge. It was conceived as a flashy way of showing off the then-new 426 cu. in. Hemi V-8. It is, in truth, a customized version of a production car. As such, the price predicted by the auctioneers seems more like wishful thinking.
Moreover, as a means of displaying the Hemi, the car failed. It never got the Hemi intended for it. By the time it was ready for display, the Hemi intended for it had been sent, instead, to a race team. At the time, Hemi’s were in very short supply and first dibs on them went to factory sponsored race teams. What was to have been the Charger’s Hemi became a replacement for a team that had blown an engine. Instead, the Charger show car got a 383.
After its brief day in the sun, the Charger left the possession of Chrysler and eventually was purchased in 1999 by Joe Bortz. Bortz is legendary in collector car circles for his uncanny knack at finding Detroit concept cars and restoring them. (He is the one who finally pried the Chevrolet Biscayne concept out of the Warhoops salvage yard in Detroit, and he has restored an number of other GM Motorama dream cars.) Bortz not only restored the Charger, but he restored it to its concept: he found and installed number 13 of the first fifteen 426 cubic inch Hemi engines built by Chrysler. Even the block casting numbers date match to the period of the concept’s creation.
But, $1.1 million still seems like a lot for the car. On the other hand, there is only one.