1972 Dodge Charger Parked for 30 Years Desperately Needs a 426 HEMI

Introduced in 1966 as a somewhat luxurious fastback aimed at the Rambler Marlin, the Dodge Charger quickly morphed into one of America's hottest muscle cars. The nameplate soldiered on until 1978, spawning spicy iterations like the R/T and the NASCAR-spec Daytona.
1972 Dodge Charger junkyard find 8 photos
Photo: Corner Classic Car Hunter/YouTube
1972 Dodge Charger junkyard find1972 Dodge Charger junkyard find1972 Dodge Charger junkyard find1972 Dodge Charger junkyard find1972 Dodge Charger junkyard find1972 Dodge Charger junkyard find1972 Dodge Charger junkyard find
However, much like all performance cars of the era, the Charger was watered down due to early 1970s emission and fuel economy regulations. By 1972, the Charger not only lost its Hi-Impact colors and R/T package, but it was also deprived of the mighty 426-cubic-inch (7.0-liter) HEMI V8. As a result, Chargers built after the 1971 model year aren't as desirable as their predecessors.

Not surprisingly, many of these Mopars built from 1972 to 1978 have ended up in junkyards over the years. And as long as there are plenty of first- and second-gen Chargers to save, third-generation examples won't get much attention unless they have "R/T" badges on their front fenders. Because they're quite rare.

Specifically, only 3,118 units were produced in 1971, the R/T's final year on the market. About 2,500 of them were fitted with the four-barrel 440-cubic-inch (7.2-liter) V8 and only 178 had the Six Pack version of the same engine. The HEMI is arguably the rarest, with only 63 cars sold.

The 1972 Charger you see here is not one of those cars. Because, as I said, Dodge eliminated both the R/T package and the HEMI for 1972. But that doesn't mean it's not worth saving. Yes, it may be a plain-jane car that requires a lot of work, but it's a solid example that has a surprisingly low amount of rust.

That's something you don't see on 1970s muscle cars that have been sitting for a long time. And this Mopar hasn't touched a strip of asphalt since 1995, which means it's been out of order for almost 30 years as of 2023.

Granted, it doesn't make much financial sense to restore and flip it. Such a process would require a five-figure investment that likely exceeds the car's value in Concours-ready condition. According to Hagerty, a 1972 Charger in tip-top shape is worth a little more than $27,000. But this doesn't necessarily mean bad news.

Since no one wants these cars beyond their potential for spare parts, 1972 Chargers in poor condition are quite cheap. And this leaves room to invest in a cool restomod or a full-blown sleeper. And yes, I am thinking about a completely stock, plain-jane exterior and a 426 HEMI under the hood.

It doesn't even have to be an all-original second-generation HEMI from the golden era. These engines are also rare and quite expensive. There are plenty of aftermarket options out there. All it needs is to look like a 426 mill and deliver enough oomph to turn the Charger into an unassuming beast with tire-shredding potential. Just look at that sad hood and tell me it doesn't deserve a shaker!

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About the author: Ciprian Florea
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Ask Ciprian about cars and he'll reveal an obsession with classics and an annoyance with modern design cues. Read his articles and you'll understand why his ideal SUV is the 1969 Chevrolet K5 Blazer.
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