1972-1974 Dodge Challenger
The Challenger was born in 1970 and was instantly a hit. The first two model years are treasured classics of the ponycar era. The Challengers did their part in the Trans-Am series of the early '70s and made their mark at the dragstrip as well. The Challenger was aimed at the more affluent buyer in the market for a ponycar. It offered a more luxurious interior and slightly longer wheelbase. Unfortunately, that popularity translates into big bucks when shopping for a project car. The alternative is to take a look at the less popular '72-74 models. Their production numbers are few, but sellers will let them go for significantly less than the older Challengers. The '73 and '74 models dropped the big-block Hemi, and '74s never came with a six-cylinder. Both the 426 Hemi and the 5.7L late-model Hemi fits between the shoulders, so there are more than enough options when it comes to the engine. More people restore these Challengers to showroom condition than radically modify them, but there is still some room to play. Hotchkis has taken special attention to the Challengers with their tubular upper control arms to give better suspension geometry to the ponycar.

By The Numbers
Typical price range: $2,500 - $15,000
Total model production: 75,691
Platform variants: Plymouth Barracuda
Available engines: V-8: 318, 340, 360
Coolness factor: 5
Aftermarket support: 4
Availability: 2
Website resources: www.cuda-challenger.com

We Found It
One thing about Mopar owners is they think their cars are worth a fortune. People will pay. This $5,500 '74 Challenger is rough, to put it nicely. The body is all there, which is definitely a bonus, but most of the interior is unusable as-is. The upside is the original 318 still can move the car around.

1971-1972 Dodge Demon
The Dart started off as Dodge's economically priced fullsize car in 1960, but that would evolve into a compact car for the '63-76 model years. The particular model we're looking at is the '71-72 Dart Demon, which was nearly called the Beaver. The Demon/Duster fastback body set it apart from other more utilitarian-looking A-bodies. The Demon could be ordered with a black hood and scoops with a performance theme. Like the Plymouth Valiant, the aftermarket hasn't taken to the Dart as a car to run through the twisties, but there are plenty of parts out there to rebuild the originals for a tighter feel. The engine, on the other hand, has had its home in many popular cars, creating a lot of available part combinations. Many racers used the 318 and 340 small-blocks for a quick-revving high-rpm motor, often topping it with the famous six-pack carb setup. Cylinder heads, cam kits, intakes, and whatever else you might need are available to up the horsepower level.

By The Numbers
Typical Price Range: $1,500 - $5,000
Total model production: 128,589
Platform variants: Dodge Dart, Plymouth Duster, early Barracuda, Scamp, and Valiant
Available engines: V-8: 318, 340
Coolness factor: 5
Aftermarket support: 3
Availability: 2
Website resources: www.valiant.org

We Found It
This '71 Demon was toward the top of the price scale of sold vehicles on eBay. There were dozens of auctions that ended with no winner because the asking price was too high. That's no surprise to Mopar lovers! This particular car was all original, in really great condition, though it would need a new paintjob. It had the cool hoodscoop option and it held a 24-bid race to the finish at $4,800, which was below the reserve price.

1963-1965 Mercury Marauder
The early Marauder had a very short three-year run as a special-edition Monterey. This fullsize was a sister to the Ford Galaxie, possibly being to blame for the Marauder's decline in sales figures. In 1964, the Monterey was the entry-level fullsize offering, but they all came with V-8s. The life of the Marauder is spotty across the century, coming back in the late '60s then again in 2003 as a special-edition Grand Marquis. The early Marauders came with all the same engine options as the Galaxie. Also like the Galaxie, the Marauder got the fastback roof that helped it's aerodynamics for the NASCAR series. If you're looking for a big cruiser with a potent powerplant, but want something off the beaten path, this is the car for you. If you can't afford the Marauder, grab a base-model Monterey and you can do all of the same things with it.

By The Numbers
Typical Price Range: $4,000 - $15,000
Total model production: 49,442
Platform variants: Ford Galaxie, LTD, and Custom; Mercury Monterey
Available engines: V-8: 289, 292, 352, 390, 406, 427, 428
Coolness factor: 5
Aftermarket support: 2
Availability: 2
Website resources: www.mercurymarauder.org

We Found It
This was the hardest car to find for sale at a reasonable price. Every listing we found was either for a completed car at a ridiculous price, or unsold project cars where buyers were asking too much. This '64 is a complete car in need of a total restoration. There was a lot of bidding activity on eBay, but the reserve price of $4,000 wasn't met. The auction expired with a high bid of $910. This would have been a good project car, but the price was too high for the condition.