“Black Ghost” Challenger sells for more than $1 million

Andrew Newton

On the afternoon of May 19, 2023, a legendary 1970 Dodge Challenger RT/SE rolled onto Mecum’s auction block in Indianapolis. 8 minutes and 14 seconds later, the hammer fell on the high bid of $975,000, just shy of the oft-predicted $1 million the car would go for. With Mecum’s 10 percent buyer’s premium, the final figure amounts to at least $1,072,500.

Why was it legendary? Because the car, equipped with a 426-cubic-inch V-8, a four-barrel carburetor and a four-speed manual transmission, would appear at night on Detroit’s Woodward Avenue, a strip famous for impromptu (and illegal) drag races. The Challenger took on all comers, rarely losing. Then the car would disappear.

The owner and his car never stopped by the local hamburger stand or any other street-racing gathering spots. Days could pass, and the car wouldn’t show. It was a ghost—a black ghost with an alligator vinyl roof and unassuming little hubcaps. Read the definitive history here.

In the late ’70s, the Black Ghost disappeared seemingly for good. However, it was sitting in the garage of the house owned by Godfrey Qualls, a Detroit police officer who likely would have lost his job had his bosses known he was the pilot of the treacherous Black Ghost. Hence the disappearing act.

Godfrey Qualls died in 2015. He left the Ghost to son Greg, who had no idea of car’s one-time notoriety as a Woodward Avenue terror. Greg—and the rest of the world—definitely know now. Thanks in part to the Hagerty Drivers Foundation, the Black Ghost’s story was circulated widely in 2020, culminating with its induction into the National Historic Vehicle Register in the Library of Congress.

Greg got the car running, making a point of leaving it absolutely stock, complete with nicks and parking-lot dents. “It’s an original, unrestored survivor, and it’s in driving condition,” he told Hagerty.com in January. “All I did was work on it in my dad’s garage to make it drivable and safe, because I wanted to drive my dad’s car.”

When Greg, a cinematographer by trade, began to take the car to shows, he heard stories and more stories about his dad’s exploits. Until then, “I had no idea,” he said.

The Mecum auction announcers were counting down the cars to the Ghost—30 cars away, 10 cars away, “we are five cars away from the Black Ghost!” Though it was the hero of the afternoon, the Black Ghost kept good company amidst a lot of very collectible muscle cars. The car preceding it, a Craig Breedlove–prepared 1968 AMC Javelin, hammered for $68,000.

Then the lights dimmed, and blue spotlights—perhaps a tribute to Godfrey’s profession—panned the coliseum. Greg and his family appeared, and he spoke briefly about the car’s history. His son would be the one to drop the gavel, assuming the reserve was met—which, apparently, was $950,000. When the reserve came off, the bidding continued, ending at $975,000.

Many, including Greg himself, thought he would keep the Black Ghost forever. “The main reason is it’s a chance to help my family, to give them opportunities they may not have otherwise,” he told Hagerty. “And the timing is right, as it seems like we’re transitioning out of gas cars.

“Family, that’s the key to all this. And it’s something I think my Dad would be OK with. But I think it’s shocking a lot of people. It was a hard decision to make. My dad didn’t say don’t sell the car, he said just don’t give it away.”

Godfrey Qualls paid $5272.40, including the destination charge of $17. The car arrived on December 5, 1969; experts believe it is the only 1970 Challenger to exist with all of the options the car has.

Regardless of the final figure it sold for, it’s safe to say that Greg Qualls and his family didn’t take this step lightly. Their hope is that they will be much better off thanks to Godfrey’s comparatively modest investment in a new Dodge, more than fifty years ago.

“I’ll be sad to see it go,” Greg says. “But it’s time.”




Check out the Hagerty Media homepage so you don’t miss a single story, or better yet, bookmark it. To get our best stories delivered right to your inbox, subscribe to our newsletters.

Click below for more about
Read next Up next: These modern cars share common threads with old classics


    Classic cars are dollar signs on wheels to most people. To me, that’s a shame.
    The Black Ghost was Greg’s car and he is free to do what he chooses with his property. I don’t fault him for selling, but if my father’s 1968 Roadrunner was still in our family, I would not be able to replace the memories with dollars.

    And because someone is going to ask what happened to the Roadrunner, my parents traded it for a New Yorker in 1973.

    Protecting a million dollar car comes with costs and hassle.

    It being a family secret is great for the value and story to us, not so much for the memories to them.

    Will I sell my father’s Impala should I become the steward of it? Keeping it in the family would be the goal, but I’m not going to be offered 10X or 100x the market value of it either. At some point it will need a next owner that isn’t me –sometimes family (sadly) isn’t interested or capable.

    The return on the “Black Ghost” is a life changing amount of money for most people. It could be leveraged to have generational impact. The story is still cool, but that’s a better legacy for grandpa/great grandpa.

    Cool car with an amazing history, but a few things bother me about this article. First, this car will never ever get driven and is now just a paperweight, which is a huge disappointment. Second, I appreciate the need to convert hard assets to cash to help your family, but the EV comment is not relevant to the classic car world.

    I hope that’s not the case – look at Big Oly. Someone raced a multimillion dollar legendary vehicle, flipped it, and kept driving, as it was intended to. That gave me some hope.

    It’s why the make Vanilla and Chocolate, BUT it’s still an old car for a million $$$, Give me a last year special Challenger Jail Break. Stops, goes, and has a warranty.

    A million dollars. Thanks auction houses for driving the cost of classics sky high and well above the regular person. No domestic car is worthy of that amount.

    It appears that Greg, did not have too many memories of the car except that to work on it with his dad. But once he got it into the public a few years back, he found out that his law enforcement father was a part time Outlaw. Sounds like an old western movie. Fun, Fun. Greg can now have the memories of his father and pass those stories onto his kids and grand kids. Cheers

    Yes you can buy a better new
    car for that amount
    But it’s not the physical car itself
    It’s a time and place in history
    No it’s not gonna end up a daily driver but it’s saved and not rotting away hidden and for a lot of people it’s a real memento of a time in their life
    It’s a cultural lifestyle younger kids today will never understand
    Keep your car for over 50 years
    Do all the repairs and
    upgrades on it yourself
    Then let’s have this discussion again

    through the ’70s, I put thousands of miles woodward ave .. never heard anything of this car ,, believe me there were a lot of cars ,,, but all the serious racing was done off woodward !!!

    The Family and Car Media started hyping this car more than a year ago. It was all intended to build up for this event. When the prices drop on these cars the buyer is going to be stuck with a very expensive collectible Mopar. I’m sure they can afford it though so no pity for them and hope they at least take it out for a cruise now and then. PS, I’m thinking a bit of the whole story was BS and over hyped.

    I agree with your comment Dan. I also believe, that this car was way over hyped by the family and Mecum, to command an over inflated selling price. That being said, I am glad that this beautiful piece of Chrysler Corporation automotive history, is now in the hands of someone else, that can afford to properly give it the care and preservation that it deserves. I also think that his father would be OK with the sale of his car, knowing that it would be with someone that truly appreciated it, and had the means to see to it, that it would be properly preserved.

    . It is bone stock car, Common on good 14 second car but not that fast of car even in the era it was built. Great Story . Probably will be a good movie.

    Thank you, Ray. Common sense right there. I suspected from the start that this story was hype to up the ante on the final bidding. Seems we are not alone, either: Uncle Tony on Youtube has a similar take.

    I once had a significant car. To me, it was a dream car (and today, it definitely is a dream car), which I bought new, built to my specifications, kept for more than 3 decades in showroom condition. I drove it regularly and enjoyed the hell out of it (never a garage queen, I used it at monthly open track sessions, and early morning canyon blatts). Then, it took a HUGE increase in value. The money could do so many things at that time. My lovely young wife wanted a new car (and we needed one), and I still had a car or two on my list that I wanted to own. Here was the ticket. So I sold, got another car to have another couple of decades with and enjoy as I restore it with my own hands, to enjoy with my Daughter, fling it around tracks and through the canyons before they take my keys away. Another dream car that is now built to my specifications.

    The car I sold could never be replaced (it was the only one in the US with factory installed competition parts), and I doubt that the current owner really understands how unique it really is. But he does understand its current value, which is more than twice what he paid to the last owner, who gave the car away because he didn’t understand it. It will be a commodity to be traded is my guess. Probably to some other guy who won’t drive it.

    A million is a lot of money for a production line, unit body car. At that value, it’s way too risky for it to be rear ended in front of the Dairy Queen. If you have a Million to spare, sure, keep it. But if you don’t, and have a family, well… That’s a lot of money to save, today. How much would it cost to build one? How much would it cost to get another hot rod Challenger, a “Last Call” from a dealer, and drive that until it becomes too valuable, or gas just isn’t available?

    I understand that my current machine will have some appreciation. ‘Probably take care of a large portion of my young daughter’s college education. Essentially a free ride, if she chooses that route. Or she could keep it, and relive some of the memories. I really don’t care which way it goes. I only hope that someone, somewhere enjoys it.

    I never heard of this either, what is do special about this car? You won a bunch of street races,
    Every town has the same story I am sure. Whoever paid $1 mill. for that BS story and car has little brains.


    My heart is heavy in saying this Greg. I can’t imagine what you and your family has gone through to decide to do this. I realize what doors this may open to the rest of your family and yourself. Thank God your dad left you with that gift of that car, that will be a memory to everyone forever good luck.

    Don’t know what’s so special about this car. When it was built in 1969 for the model year 70 it was quick, but the body was garbage as it was made from Japanese steel if you’ll recall and because of all the oil in the steel and not being prepped properly at the factory, the body wouldn’t hold paint to save your life and nobody could figure out way until much later. The only way you could get it to stop peeling paint was to strip it completely and prep the Japanese steel properly and repaint it properly or it would just keep peeling the paint. And that’s if you caught it before it started rusting out.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *