It’s no secret that Dodge is ending production of its gas-slurping V8 muscle cars—the Challenger coupe and Charger sedan—by the end of the year. But boy are they going out with a bang.
In fact, over the past several months, the “bang” has included a series of no less than seven stupendously over-powered, special edition models the company calls the Last Call series cars.
The final model, the Challenger SRT Demon 170, unveiled in Las Vegas just weeks ago, packs an insane 1,025 horsepower and can blast from standstill to 60 miles per hour in a blink-of-an-eye 1.66 seconds.
Yet arguably the most fascinating of the Last Call Challengers is the one I’ve just spent an adrenaline-fueled week piloting: The 2023 Challenger Black Ghost.
The interesting story here isn’t the insane 807 horses it corrals from its screaming 6.2-liter supercharged V8, or even the faux gator skin vinyl roof. No, it’s the history that inspired it.
Re-wind to 1970 Motor City. A Detroit motorcycle cop called Godfrey Qualls went out and bought himself a stealthy, triple-black 427 Hemi-powered ’70 Dodge Challenger.
Officer Qualls and his car quickly built a reputation for turning-up on Detroit’s street racing scene and smoking anyone who threw down a stoplight challenge. After his inevitable victory, he’d simply evaporate into the night, earning his car the title of “Black Ghost.”
This six-out-of-seven Challenger Last Call edition pays homage to Qualls’ original with Pitch Black paintwork, a widened body from the Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye model, and yes, a genuine faux gator-skin black vinyl roof.
Add to those, a white stripe across the rear end—just like Officer Quall’s car—air-snorting intakes on the hood, lots of shiny chrome retro Challenger badges, and black, six-piston Brembo stoppers behind 20-inch Satin Carbon wheels.
Inside, it’s blacker than a Kentucky coal mine, with acres of black, contrast-stitched leather, black carbon fiber, and black suede-like Alcantara for the roof liner and wheel.
But the main event here is that thundering, supercharged V8 under the mile-long hood. For this Black Ghost edition, it gets an extra 10 horseys to give a grand total of 807 horsepower, and a massive 707 pound-foot of torque to deep fry those rear tires with every prod of the accelerator.
And accelerate it does. For full metal jacket launches, tap the Launch button on the center console, stomp on the brake pedal while mashing the throttle, and simply step off the brakes.
Holy moly. All hell breaks loose, the rear end gets engulfed in tire smoke, the supercharger shrieks, wails, and whines, and the car catapults forward.
Click the stopwatch and you’ll see 0-to-60 miles per hour sprinting in just 3.2 seconds, and the all-important quarter mile covered in 11.7 seconds at 124 miles per hour.
OK, that’s not the fastest muscle car out there, but remember that the Black Ghost spends most of its time flambéing its rear tires to get some semblance of traction. More dramatic, maybe, is the car’s mid-range acceleration for rock-out-of-a-catapult passing, or slingshots out of any freeway on-ramp.
And the nice thing is that if you want a break from the performance histrionics, the Black Ghost can easily revert to a gentler Challenger that rides smoothly, steers precisely, and handles predictably.
How much? The MSRP is an eye-watering $100,910. But remember, Dodge will build just 300 Black Ghosts, guaranteeing their collectability and future investment potential. How do you spell dealer markups?
What’s interesting is that possibly with the introduction of this new Black Ghost, Officer Qualls’ family—he died in 2015—has decided to auction off his original, unrestored 1970 Challenger. It goes across the Mecum block in Indianapolis on May 19. What’s it worth? I’m guessing $250,000 and up.
Buy both and you’d have, without doubt, the coolest set of ghostly American muscle cars out there.