1970 Dodge Challenger
In 1969, 27-year-old, combat veteran, Purple Heart recipient and Detroit Police Officer, Godfrey Qualls special ordered this sinister 1970 Hemi Challenger. Qualls didn’t leave many options unchecked when he put pen to paper, including the R/T and Special Edition (SE) packages. Not only did he equip his dream car with the monstrous 426 HEMI engine (a $778.75 or 23% up-charge) but he made sure to include the “Super Track Pak” with four-speed manual transmission, shifted via a floor mounted Hurst pistol grip sending power to a Sure-Grip Dana 60 with 4.10 gears. For style he equipped the hardtop street bruiser with a “bumble bee” white stripe on the tail, hood pins, houndstooth interior and the real conversation piece – a “Gator Grain” black vinyl top. It is one of just 23 HEMI 4-speed R/T SE Challengers sold in the model’s debut year and is likely the only car ever built with this configuration of performance and trim options. Interestingly, Godfrey actually ordered the car with the coveted “shaker” hood scoop though the car did not come with it. Frustrated, Godfrey took Dodge to court over the issue and would eventually receive the distinctive hood. He never had it installed, as he was afraid to leave the powerful car with young mechanics at a dealership overnight.
Qualls initial use of the Challenger lived up to the muscle car legends of stop-light-to-stop-light escapades and late-night action. In stark contrast to his day job as a motorcycle police officer enforcing traffic laws, Qualls took the Challenger out on the weekends and tested the HEMI’s power against the best of the era. Known as the “Black Ghost” because he would seemingly vanish for months after making a few runs on Woodward, Telegraph or Stecker St., Qualls was rarely bested in his street racing days. He ran straight pipes and slicks but primarily left the Challenger stock; that is, except for a trailer hitch used to haul his Norton café racers to the track. Towards the end of the 1970s Qualls re-enlisted in the Army, married and started a family. The street racing took a backseat, though, the Challenger remained the family’s only car – Qualls even taught his wife Kathy to drive in the Challenger. She used it as a daily driver with the second carb linkage removed to tame the motor’s power.
It wasn’t long until the temperamental, high-performance coupe began showing its disapproval as a family car and mechanical gremlins presented themselves. Busy serving his country, his community, and his family the Challenger was put into the corner of the garage for safe keeping and the family got a more practical car. Qualls served as an Army Reserve Green Beret travelling all over the world and continued on the Detroit Police force in between deployments for the rest of his life. Through all this, the Challenger remained in the garage safe from the elements but not Godfrey’s son, Gregory, who bumped his Schwinn bicycles against the car as small kid, unaware of the significance of the dusty automobile. Although Godfrey made a few efforts to sell it over the years, he never could part with the car. It was left just as it was when parked, save a few dents and dings from bicycle handlebars.
In 2016, after his dad’s passing, Gregory worked with friends and family to bring the car back out as a tribute to his father. Completely unrestored, save a few maintenance items to ensure the car runs and drives safely, the Challenger has just over 45,000 miles. Gregory shows the car regularly with his wife Charmaine, son Gregory and daughter Gabrielle. One day he hopes to pass the car to his son to enjoy and care for.
Paint and exterior
This vehicle is in unrestored condition. The original black paint shows signs of normal use. It has an original black “Gator Grain” vinyl top.
Upholstery and interior
This vehicle’s interior is in unrestored condition. It features original black vinyl and houndstooth upholstery with accessory seat covers.
Original Engine: Yes
Liquid-cooled, Chrysler OHV hemispherical head V-8 426cid/ 425 hp, equipped with dual 4bbl carburetors
This vehicle was originally used as Godfrey Qualls’ personal vehicle. It is now driven infrequently and displayed at classic car events and exhibits by the Qualls family. Its total mileage is 45,847 miles.
Wheels and tires
Original 15” steel wheels with center caps, F60-15 Goodyear Polyglas GT tires
Power assist hyd., disc front, drum rear
4-speed manual transmission, A833, pistol grip shifter