Orange-on-orange 1970 Challenger SE is a rare and rusty barn find
How rusty is too rusty for you to consider a restoration? We found this 1970 Dodge Challenger SE, which is currently up for bidding on eBay, through BarnFinds.com, where commentators are debating the merits of restoring such a vehicle and lamenting the sad chain of events that must have led it to its current state.
Challenger debuted for 1970, giving Dodge its first pony car after Plymouth had been selling Barracudas for six years over two generations. Like its Plymouth Barracuda cousin, the Challenger rode on the new E-body chassis, which shared components with the mid-size B-body. Barracuda had previously been built on the compact A-body platform shared with Valiant and Dart, and its move to the bigger platform came with a bigger engine bay to better swallow big-blocks.
This car, offered for sale in Massachusetts, is an SE model, which means that instead of a normal, large rear window, the car uses a plug inserted in the standard rear glass opening that contains a smaller window. We’re not sure what the point of the small rear glass was, as it wasn’t much before this that pickup trucks with small rear windows were the budget models and the big back window was a desirable option. All SE models were fitted with a vinyl top to cover the installation of the rear window plug, and this car’s peeling vinyl has revealed its seams. Unfortunately, the vinyl top trim has also invited rust during the car’s 35+ years of neglect.
Another checkmark in the “cons” column for this Challenger is that while it was originally a high-performance, four-barrel 383 car equipped with a four-speed, that big-block is gone. In its place is a 340. True, 340s have one heck of a muscle car heritage of their own, but it’s just not the same as having its original engine.
What this car does have in the “pros” column is its long list of options, including overhead console, Rallye gauges, and Sure Grip 3.91:1 rear differential. Also, while the big-block is gone, the pistol grip shifter is still in place. According to the listing, only 158 383 four-speed Challenger SEs were built in 1970. Whether that rarity makes the car any more special is up for you to decide.
The current #4 (Fair) value for a 383-equipped 1970 Challenger SE is $18,400. Orange-on-orange with black vinyl top is an eye-catching color combo, although auction results suggest that Go Mango/Vitamin C Orange is the least desirable of the High Impact colors offered by Dodge and Plymouth. However, this “barn fresh” pony car is also well below #4 condition and would need a serious investment in money and time to get it roadworthy, much less show-worthy.
Whoever buys this car and restores it will become quite familiar with Dynacorn and/or Auto Metal Direct and will need to be handy with a MIG welder, as new rocker panels and floorboards will be necessary. Aside from the visible rust holes through the rocker panels, the undercarriage photo reveals a perforated subfame rail. As E-bodies were unibody, with structural rails integrated into the body, there’s a lot metal to go through before a hopped-up 383 gets a chance to twist things up.
With its current price of $10,200, we’ve got to hope that someone plans on restoring this piece of Mopar history. That’s just too much to use it for parts. Besides that, what parts could it offer? While we’re glad that this long-forgotten pony car seems like it’s on the path to restoration, we also don’t envy how much work will be involved in getting it back on the road. When it comes to in-depth projects like this, how do you make the call on whether or not to make the investment?