The rich smell of a thermoquad carburetor, the pleasant rumble of a 440 big block, the tingling in your spine as you tightly wrap your fist around a pistol grip shifter; you know you’re a Mopar guy at heart but your wallet doesn’t. The days of scoring driver quality Mopar muscle cars seem to be long gone (where are all these $500 Super Bees and Road Runners that the older generations speak of?). While you sit around reminiscing about the glory days and drooling over six figure ‘Cudas and Chargers other gearheads are snatching up this generation’s low buck Mopars.
Big, bad, and ballsy. This neglected body style flies under the radar of collectors due to it’s extra mass. Despite never being originally marketed for performance, your typical C body is equipped with a 383, 400, or even 440 big block and the optional sure-grip rear end. Throughout the decades these big rigs were quickly dismissed by adolescents as well for being “old lady cars”, leaving many quietly tucked away in safe suburbia some 50 years later. While buying Granny’s grocery-getter doesn’t sound thrilling, it has its perks. Adult owned vehicles are more likely to be found meticulously cared for and unmolested; leaving your 50 year old relic in remarkable shape for it’s age. Whereas the popular performance models were used and abused by generation after generation of Moparheads. Societal rejection coupled with large production numbers make these hefty hot-rods available a dime a dozen. Sure your new ride may have more weight than a Dart or a Challenger but rolling heavy isn’t always a bad thing, all that extra bulk will aid in roasting the tires (maybe even win you a Burn Out Contest). Search your local ads for a Polara, Monaco, a Fury, or even an Chrysler Imperial, and you’ll be hauling ass (and a trunk full of groceries) in no time.
Thick contour seats, rich Corinthian leather…. and a hell raising 400 big block! With a factory quarter mile time of 17.00 seconds and a 9.3 second 0-60 it’s no doubt the Chrysler Cordoba will fit your party in the back business upfront lifestyle. In the days of disco a Cordoba was a status symbol, a flaunt of affluence but in today’s world a piece of 70’s prominence can be yours for cheap. Luxury at a glance, but a closer look reveals Chrysler’s eloquent suspension and lavish features can offer more than just superior ride quality and smooth handling. The standard low trailing links, front and rear sway bars, and heavy duty bushings make for steady powerslides, rockfords, drifts, brake torque-burnouts, or any other reckless fun you thought a stuffy old luxury car couldn’t handle. With production numbers soaring past 150,000 models in the 1975 debut year alone there is an abundant selection of these fine automobiles all across the country.
Economy A bodies
Scamps, Valiants, and Swingers make up the band of misfit A-bodies. Originally marketed as affordable daily drivers with minimal features, it’s no wonder Chrysler continued recycling those same plain-jane body lines over and over. Despite their boring stock demeanor a pair of Cragar Mags and the right hood scoop will have this economy car looking like a mean muscle machine in no time. It’s not quite a Duster or Demon, but despite styling differences to the fastback rear quarter design there is vast compatibility between the two platforms. With interchangeable drive-trains, front ends, and suspension parts these bargain A bodies can be woken up even on a tight budget.
In a strange time where America’s culture revolved around custom vans, C.B radios, and crappy weed these mini muscle machines were so popular they could be spotted in nearly any parking lot across America! After the inevitable failure of those late model A bodies Chrysler was ready to rule the economy market again with a fresh new look, the Aspen/Volare F body platform. Despite the bore of baseline models, special editions like the Super Coupe, Road Runner, Fun Runner, and Sun Runner jazzed up these baby hotrods and created a cult like following that still persists today. Couple that with freaky factory options such as go-fast stripes, t-tops, front and rear spoilers, louvers, and wheel flares, Chrysler’s F body makes the perfect low buck muscle machine, all while capturing the spirit of the ’70s. Typically coming equipped with a slant six or smogger 318, the F bodies produced underwhelming horsepower numbers but can be easily upgraded with simple speed parts. A set of headers and a 4 barrel carburetor will have that F body moving as fast as it looks!
Dodge Trucks (’72-’93)Boxy, heavy, and just a little on the trashy side. A crusty old pickup truck probably isn’t the first thing to come to mind when you’re hunting for Mopar muscle but keep them in mind. Their large production numbers make them common and low cost while their typical V8 engines (318, 360, 400, 440) make them two tons of fun (literally!). Presumable flaws aside, there’s no doubt that there’s something enticing about an old pickup truck. Maybe it’s the inspirational “Adult Toys” editions such as the Macho, Little Red Express, or Warlock editions that flex their bold body lines and show off Chrysler’s wildest paint schemes. Not only are they low-cost from the get-go, but the abundance of aftermarket parts makes customization simple and cheap!
Undesirable? Maybe. Outcast? Undoubtedly. Reasonable? Now that’s a big 10-4! So whether you’re a newcomer looking to break into the hobby or a seasoned veteran seeking a budget friendly toy, any of these Mopars could be yours for well under $5,000 bucks! So grab an Autotrader, hop on Craigslist, or just drive around searching until you’ve scored one of these cheap Mopars! Until next time, Mopar to ya!
*Have you already scored a cheap Mopar? Share it with us in the comments!*