Potential Purchase of the Week: 1964 Dodge Hemi Charger Concept

Big-dollar muscle cars are a dime a dozen at today’s auction venues — but this particular bit of Mopar muscle is much more unique.

You’re looking at the 1964 Dodge Hemi Charger Concept, a one-off concept car built by Chrysler to showcase its then-new 426-cubic-inch Hemi V-8. The engine, which had been under development within Chrysler for some time, was viewed by many within the company as key to winning the horsepower wars. To show it off to the public (and strike fear in the hearts of rival automakers), the big wigs in Highland Park, Michigan, signed off on the show car.

The Hemi Charger is based upon 1964 Dodge Polara, but designers went to work crafting a special body designed to leave auto show crowds awestruck. The first thing bystanders notice is the roof — or, really, the complete lack of one. Designers chopped the top to create a roadster, gifting it instead with a low-profile, speedster-like windshield, along with a stylized roll bar sporting integrated headrests. The cockpit itself is split in two, allowing the slender racing stripes to run uninterrupted down the length of the car.

Front and rear sheetmetal is based heavily off the stock Polara stampings, but the styling team stripped both of standard chrome bumpers, fitting instead small so-called nerf bars. In back, rectangular vents in the rear quarter panels doubled as exhaust tips, while the stock hood was replaced by a radical hand-built part, topped with a monstrous air scoop.

That scoop fed air into a hopped-up Mopar V-8 — but it wasn’t always a Hemi. Although Chrysler originally called for a 600-horsepower, 426 Hemi, that engine was pulled aside for a race car after an engine blew during competition. Instead, the Hemi Charger was fitted with a standard 383-cubic-inch V-8 for the ’64 auto show circuit. However, after well known concept car collector Joe Bortz bought the vehicle and restored it, a proper 426 V-8 was squeezed under hood. Don’t look for a pistol-grip shifter here — the Hemi is mated to a three-speed Torqueflite automatic transmission.

Why would I want it?

For starters, it’s the only one ever made, a rolling piece of automotive history and art. Secondly, it’s arguably better now than it was new, considering the amazing restoration (and the proper engine) performed by Bortz. We’d lobby it’s finally the true performance machine Dodge originally intended for it to be.

Sadly, don’t expect to drive this one-off any time soon. Like other concepts and rare muscle cars, this beauty has a significant value attached to it. RM Auctions has yet to reveal an estimate for when the Hemi Charger crosses the block at its 2011 Automobiles of Arizona, but when it changed hands in 2007, it fetched $1.1 million.

Source: RM Auctions

Photo Credit: courtesy of RM Auctions

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