Dodge’s Last Call Challengers Will Never Be as Collectible as the Classics
Dodge is finally ending its current Challenger‘s reign, killing the car off after the 2023 model year. As you watch videos of the latest 2023 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Demon 170 trouncing the 1/4-mile in 8.6 seconds, you may be trying to justify its $96,666 MSRP. With Dodge throwing around marketing terms such as “Limited,” “Special Edition,” and “Last Call,” it’s easy to think that every 2023 Challenger and Charger will soon be a sought-after collectors’ car. But before you sell a kidney to buy a Demon, you’ll want to read up on the perfect storm that made the original Challenger such a valuable classic and see why the Last Call Challengers won’t skyrocket in value the same way.
Dodge’s Last Call Challengers and Chargers will never be as rare as the OGs
Dodge is finally killing the long-running current generation of its Challenger coupe. It’s unclear what hybrids and EVs will make up Dodge’s 2024 “eMuscle” lineup. But we know the present V8-powered Challenger and Charger will not survive this transition.
In the meantime, Dodge has promised 24 months of “Last Call” appearance packages and supercar-level performance editions. Dodge has been using lingo such as “Limited” and “Special Edition” to suggest that the Last Call Chargers and Challengers, such as the SRT Hellcat Demon 170, will be collectors’ items and thus smart investments. And while none of these cars are poor investments, none will be as rare or sought-after as some of the original 1970 or 1971 Dodge Challengers.
The first-generation Dodge Challenger, especially, is an incredibly rare pony car. First of all, the vehicle did not sell as well as Dodge had hoped it would, so few were made. Most of those were slant-six powered automatics and are not especially valuable to collectors.
Secondly, the first-generation Challenger became a cultural icon in the ensuing decades, a sort of alternative pony car, and this drove prices up. Finally, the name-brand recognition created by the Current Challenger’s pushed the classics’ prices even higher.
1970-1974 Dodge Challengers with V8s are valuable because they are rare
Dodge launched the Challenger as its “Challenge” to Mustang and Camaro pony cars. Considering the Mustang hit the market in mid-1964 and the 1967 Camaro came out during a yearlong media blitz in 1966, Dodge was a bit late to the party. But Dodge and Plymouth had taken their time designing the smallest possible coupe that could gracefully handle its big-block 440 and 426 Hemi V8s. They also carefully sculpted this Mopar‘s aggressive body lines that would prove to hold up next to the second generation of the Mustang and Camaro.
Considering Ford had to build over 500,000 1965 Mustangs to keep up with demand and Chevrolet sold 220,000 1967 Camaros, Dodge had high hopes for the Challenger. Dodge launched the 1970 Challenger in 1969, selling 24,895 that year and 54,054 during 1970, just 78,949 in total. That left 16,333 Challengers stranded on dealership lots, so Dodge cut back production drastically.
Greg Zyler wrote in the Austin Statesman that most of these first-generation Challengers had the base engine (the 145 horsepower slant-six). While the slant-six is one of my favorite engines of all time, a muscle car powerplant it is not.
The R/T trim is relativley sought-after, but only 18,512 1970 Challenger R/Ts. were sold. The 1970 T/A trim, which is perhaps the pinnacle of collectors’ Challengers was limited to 2,539 vehicles. Because they weren’t considered collectors’ vehicles back then, relatively few are still on the road.
The absolute cream-of-the-crop 1970 Challenger configuration is widely regarded as the hardtop coupe with a high-compression 426 Hemi V8 mated to a 4-speed manual transmission. Dodge only made 137 Challengers in this spec.
Unlike the current generation of Challenger, the 1970-74 Challengers lost power every year and trim-levels every year, do to the tightening emissions regulations of the day.
The 2023 Dodge Demon SRT Hellcat Demon 170 will not be the rarest Challenger
Dodge just announced its final “Last Call” Challenger model: the 2023 SRT Hellcat Demon 170. This 1025-horsepower hypercar shaped like a muscle car blasts to 60 mph in just 1.6 seconds. One way Dodge is justifying its $100k MSRP is pledging to sell 3,000 or less in the U.S., 300 or less in Canada. While this “Limited Edition” may seem like a good investment, chances are it will never be as rare as a 1970 426 Hemi powered 4-speed car, or even an original Challenger T/A.
The 3,000 Demon 170s sold will be considered collectors’ cars from the get-go, and likely babied. A few may be only driven as track cars. Others may be mothballed altogether. There will be no forgotten “barn find” Demon 170s popping up in 30 years.
One popular modification for a base-model or late-model first-generation Challenger is to create a “tribute” T/A or even 426 car. Owners do this by swapping in the more desirable powertrain and simulating the trim of the collectors’ car.
I expect that even after Dodge goes 100% hybrid/electric with its production vehicles, it will continue to sell crate engines. At some point, this may include the 1025 horsepower SRT Demon 170 engine. In the coming years, many owners of older or less desirable third-generation Dodge Challengers may build tributes of the SRT Hellcat or even the Demon.
The 2023 Challenger SRT Hellcat Demon 170 will always be a very valuable car. It is a work of brilliant engineering and a piece of automotive history. But I think it would be foolish to expect to 10x your money by purchasing one.
Next, check out the 1970 Dodge Challenger buying guide or see the Last Call 2023 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Demon 170 debut at the Roadkill Nights drag race in the video below: