The Library of Congress is where the important stuff goes, right? I honestly don’t know much about the Library of Congress other than apparently super rare cars can get into it for some reason. The truth is, this car is not only rare but is indelibly woven into a certain slice of Americana. If any car is worthy, the 1970 Dodge Challenger known as the “Black Ghost” feels like such a car.
This 1970 Dodge Challenger was a drag racing legend
Auto Classics reports that in the 1970s Detroit drag scene, few cars could strike fear into the hearts of street racers as the Black Ghost could. This was a 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T with a spec so unique that the Library of Congress eventually took note of its rarity.
If a 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T wasn’t cool enough on its own, this particular car was finished in “triple-black.” This means the paint, wheels, and roof were all in black. While this doesn’t seem strange by today’s standards, back then, Dodge offered its muscle cars in a wide variety of flashy color schemes with decals, stripes, and flair-a-plenty. So someone going triple black, while a factory option, wasn’t really something people did.
Not only was the ghost an odd color package, but it also was the R/T model meaning it came with the hallowed 426 Hemi V8, which made a screaming 425 hp. The ghost also has the four-speed-manual gearbox with the coolest shifter in the game, a Hurst. If those specs didn’t make it impossibly cool, it also had a thin white stripe around the back, known as a bumble-bee stripe. This Challenger was also optioned with a houndstooth interior, NASCAR-style gas cap, gator roof, hood pins, SE package, and rear defogger. This series of options made this car 1 of only 22 examples ever made. Needless to say, this is a unicorn, an angry, blacked-out unicorn.
The black ghost was feared across Detroit
There is a wonderful documentary about this car featuring the original owner’s family speaking about the living legend sitting in their garage. Godfrey Qualls was the shadowy figure behind the wheel of the ghost. At the time, no one knew who owned the Challenger. It would simply show up at a redlight, chop you, and roll on into the night. Godfrey and his spooky Dodge was truly a living legend.
After Qualls’ passing, his son left the Challenger in the garage for years collecting dust until he finally decided to restore it to its former glory in honor of his dad. Qualls’ son has strong memories of the car from his childhood, but he, like the rest of Detroit, had no clue who his dad was until much later. Once he started restoring the Challenger, his dad’s friends would come around the house and start telling the old stories of his dad’s legendary legacy.
The Black Ghost isn’t just a badass, it changed the Challenger line forever
Mr. Qualls wanted a shaker hood for his Challenger, but the dealership wouldn’t sell him one because it wasn’t an option for that car. According to the film, the salesman told him, “if you want a shaker hood, buy a Cuda.” This made Qualls so mad that he sued the dealership. The judge ruled in favor of Qualls, and the dealership had to give him a shaker hood for his car and the dealership had to install it. Qualls refused to let the dealership do it for fear that if he left it there, the porters would raise hell in his car after hours. The real result of the lawsuit was that the shaker hood became a factory option for the Challenger. The Black Ghost is directly responsible for the Challenger getting a shaker hood.
After the restoration and documentary, the car was entered into the hallowed halls of the Library of Congress through the National Historic Vehicle Register, as it should. This is not only a fine piece of automotive history, it is a piece of American history that deserves honor and recognition. Here’s to the Black Ghost.