A Black Ghost For Sale
If you’re a fan of big block V8s, then you’ve probably heard of a triple-black Hemi 1970 Dodge Challenger they call the Black Ghost. In the early 70s, this car terrorized the street racing scene in Detroit. Under the cloak of darkness, the midnight Hemi would leave’em all choking on leaded exhaust fumes.
It wouldn’t race often, and nobody, at the time, knew who the driver of the triple black Challenger was as it would disappear for months at a time. By 1975, the Black Ghost Challenger stopped showing up in public – until recently.
The internet shined a national spotlight on this mystery Mopar in 2020 thanks to the Hagerty Drives Foundation, which earned it a spot on the National Historic Vehicle Register. Then, it stayed in the spotlight when Dodge announced one of its “Last Call” special edition Hemi Challengers would carry the “Black Ghost” name as a tribute to the original triple black. Now, the retired Detroit streetlight brawler will roll across a different sort of line, the Mecum auction block.
The news that the Black Ghost 1970 Hemi Dodge Challenger R/T SE was cosigned for auction by the car’s original family owners was announced during Mecum’s Kissimmee, Florida. The car is set to roll across the auction block during Dana Mecum’s 36th Original Spring Classic event in Indianapolis on May 12–20.
On its own, the car’s options list put it high up on the muscle car desire-o-meter. However, the car’s story makes it a one-of-a-kind collector’s item, and it’s worth a retelling.
The Anti-Hero Muscle Car
Before becoming the Black Ghost of Detroit, this Challenger had to be ordered by the original owner, Godfrey Qualls. Family and friends have described Qualls as a genuine definition of a good man. Moreover, he was a man who knew exactly what he wanted when it came to cars.
When Mr. Qualls got his hands on a Chrysler order sheet, he checked every box. R/T package, check. Special Edition (SE) package, check. Super Track Pak, check. Four-speed manual with Hurst pistol grip and a Sure-Grip Dana 60 rear end with 4.10 gears, check-check. Lastly, the big orange cherry on top, a $778.75 upcharge Hemi 426 ci V8 engine option… check.
Other options included a white Bumble Bee stripe on the car’s tail, hood pins, a houndstooth interior, and the now ultra-rare Gator Grain black vinyl top. Of the 23 Hemi four-speed R/T SE Dodge Challengers built for 1970, this is the only one loaded with all these options. With the title in his name, Godfrey Qualls had the keys to Thor’s pistol grip hammer. But Mr. Qualls was no stranger to adrenaline, being a former paratrooper for the United States Army 82nd Airborne, with a Purple Heart to prove it.
The Black Ghost didn’t race for money or pinks, just pure sport. A dead sprint from one streetlight to another, rowing first, second, and third gear, but while most cars stopped at the next light, the Black Ghost charged into fourth and vanished into the night.
When Qualls wasn’t humbling egos on the streets with his Gator Grain black Challenger, he patrolled them as a Detroit police motorcycle cop. Cop by day, street racer by night, with his secret identity protected behind the glass of his triple-black Hemi Dodge. However, by the mid-70s, the Black Ghost retired from racing when Qualls relisted in the Army and became a Green Beret.
Selling a Family Heirloom
Godfrey Qualls died of cancer on Christmas Eve, 2015. In an interview with Hagerty from 2020, Qualls’ son Gregory stated that on December 21st, his father asked to bring him the documents to the car. He signed over the title, handed him the keys, and gave him a final thought, “Don’t give my f—ing car away.”
I imagine Mr. Qualls said it with the stoic integrity of a veteran/ex-cop/retired Green Beret. Furthermore, the article continued to state that Gregory Qualls vowed to keep the Black Ghost in the family with the hope of passing it along to his son.
Now, it is no place for us to openly question why the Qualls family decided to sell an incredibly rare and original Hemi Challenger R/T SE family heirloom. It could be to pay for multiple college tuitions or wanting to put their cherished machine in the hands of someone with the resources to maintain its museum originality for another 50 years.
Whatever personal reasons for selling the car, the main point now is speculating what the final bid will be when the hammer drops at Indianapolis in May 2023.
Why This Car Matters
This car is not just a Hemi Challenger. It’s a running survivor that perfectly symbolizes the romance of the 1970s muscle car wars. A brief but memorable era when young people with part-time jobs could walk into any dealership and finance a purpose-built street machine disguised as a family coupe.
A time when the streets were littered with big block hustlers wearing underrated performance specs to fool insurance companies, cartoon graphics on the paint, and burning cheap leaded fuel idling to a Jimmy Page guitar riff. An era too good to last but lives on in the cast iron relics left behind.