Money No Object: The 1978 Clem Smith Chrysler Charger – Perfectly Psychotic Mid-Engined Mopar!


Money No Object: The 1978 Clem Smith Chrysler Charger – Perfectly Psychotic Mid-Engined Mopar!

The effort one must take for me to stop, stare at a car, and simply be too slack-jawed to even ask questions is enormous. That’s not bragging at all, I promise…it’s just that between dealing with these machines as a hobby my whole life, combined with the work and research I’ve performed in my duties here at BangShift, something really has to be out of this world insane for me to simply go, “….wait, what?!”

Meet that car.

What you have in front of you is a 1978 Chrysler Charger the likes of which Chrysler Australia couldn’t and wouldn’t dare to dream of. As the whole of the Australian automotive industry reeled from the “Supercar Scare”, there was no way in hell that Chrysler Australia, who by this time was busy making friends with Mitsubishi Motors, was going to dump another hot Charger onto the market. No, leave this bit to a man named Clem Smith. Smith was a racer who loved Valiants and Chryslers, and he was the owner and, some would argue, the savior of Mallala Motorsports Park in South Australia. He lived a long and vibrant life until his peaceful passing at the age of 90 earlier this year, and apparently he had a taste for some severe speed.

Case in point is this Charger. At first glance it looks like what most Aussie Chargers appear to be: a solid coupe, though this one has some racy visual bits. But this thing is more than just a huge spoiler on the back and a purposeful stance…

Mr. Smith’s wild ride started with a 340ci Chrysler mill that was stroked out to 360, mounted in a front-mid position, hooked to a rear-mounted transaxle, like a modern-day Corvette. Imagine rowing the gears as that stroker Mopar sings it’s heart out just left of your face. We bet it’s a glorious noise. Then look at the suspension: independent at all four corners. Brakes are monster discs. Everything about this car promises to do one of two things: It’ll either excite every last nerve in your body, or will make you evacuate involuntarily the first time you make a sincere hot lap in the car.

Mr. Smith knew what the hell he was doing when he built this monster. The car was originally designed to race in a class of cars called Sport Sedans. According to the listing, “…these cars are essentially a free construction utilising bodywork from a closed, series production vehicle using a steel tube ‘’space frame’’ chassis. These aerodynamics, together with 6-litre V8 powerplants can generate as much as 700hp using 5 or 6-speed transaxle rear ends. With composite body panels, flared wheel arches over wide slick tyres, front spoilers and a large rear wing generating the all important downforce, these mid-engined cars have produced some of the fastest outright racing laps seen in Australia.”

You’d be forgiven for thinking Group B class for road racing, wouldn’t you? That’s why every last coin you’ve got would be worth losing over this beast.

Moss Green Auction Link: 1978 Chrysler Charger Sports Sedan-class race car

(Courtesy: Bring A Trailer)


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7 thoughts on “Money No Object: The 1978 Clem Smith Chrysler Charger – Perfectly Psychotic Mid-Engined Mopar!

  1. Chevy Hatin' Mad Geordie

    There was a similar class in the UK called Special Saloons (Sedans). Where you had such gems as V8 Beetles and even fully bodied single seater based cars that bore a passing resemblance to the humble stockers they were based on. Special Saloons are still flourishing and this monster would fit right in – all it needs is a shed load of cash to buy it and ship it over.

    Any donations would be gladly accepted….

    Reply
  2. Chris In Australia

    Sports Sedans are still going strong. Mostly Chevrolet powered. We’ve got
    Alfa-Chevrolets, SAAB Chevrolets, Nissan- Chevrolets, and even Ford-Chevrolets

    Reply
  3. Robert McCormick

    I grew up with the sons of the man who designed and built this car for Clem and many others for this class of racing mid engine v8 spaceframe chassis etc and was privileged enough too see drawings of it also
    These cars were ahead of the game and insane machines

    Reply
  4. john t

    This car has a special place in my heart along with Sports Sedans in general. I was a kid when this raced and remember in the early 70’s standing in the pits at Adelaide International Raceway checking this and Gricey’s mid engine Monaro out. Awesome cars… and Geordie, seriously you need to get over your rabid dislike of something once you realise it has a Chev in it. One minute you want to buy it then you freak out over the C word – and this from a guy that lives in England and probably doesn’t even see anything Chev powered from one month to the next. I love my Fords but fast is fast. Please don’t even imply that this thing was slow because it is Chev powered, you’ll look even more stupid than you normally do.

    Reply

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