In the world of performance cars, the “Sleeper” is a rare treat. For those not in the know (and I’m assuming most of you ARE in the know!), the Sleeper, or Q-Ship as some call them, is a vehicle that appears to be a mundane, everyday car while packing serious heat under the hood. They come in all shapes and sizes, from tiny econoboxes to pickup trucks, and everything in between. And honestly, there’s nothing cooler. We’ve featured plenty of them over the years, including this grandma-fresh Caprice that runs 12’s and this Malaise Era Olds Cutlass wagon with a big block and a Doug Nash 5-speed. Well, add another one to the list, as we are about to show you a really cool one: a very pedestrian-looking 1987 Dodge Charger, converted to rear wheel drive, and packing a Mopar 360 V8 under the hood! While we did feature one of these recently in full-race form, and yes, it was awesome, this one is solely for upstaging unsuspecting fools on local cruise nights! Let’s have a closer look:
Yeah, it’s one of these Chargers. Built from 1981 to 1987, these were front wheel drive cars based on the L-Body platform, which was shared with the Dodge Omni, Plymouth Horizon, Plymouth Turismo, Chrysler Laser, Dodge Rampage, and probably a few others. While they did have some performance variants, like the Shelby-branded turbocharged cars, most of these were ho-hum, basic transportation. This one was among the latter, and probably came from the factory with a 2.2L naturally aspirated four offering double digit horsepower and a three speed automatic. And since it’s build date is squarely into the Malaise Era, it’s wearing a lovely shade of burgundy inside and out. You may not see too many of these on the roads now, but at one point in time, they were everywhere.
The only outward cues that anything sporty is going on here are these sweet louvers and a chrome “R/T” badge affixed to the hatch. It even retains the single exhaust tip.
Those wheels are aftermarket, manufactured by Enkei. To a passer-by, they look like those cheap hubcaps you still see in the “chrome aisle” at your local auto parts store. They measure 14″ and retain just four lugs, like other lowly L-Body cars did. One of the coolest things is that the guy who built this car installed a Chrysler 8 3/4″ rear end with custom Moser axles drilled to accept the original four lug bolt pattern for extra sleepiness!
Chances are, if you were alive in the 80’s or 90’s, you have spent time inside a Chrysler interior that looked like this. I know I have, with multiple family members and friends who piloted these cars. And if you have, you’ll notice that this one looks exactly as it is supposed to! Aside from the small gauge to the left of the console, it’s all stock in here, with Parisian Brothel Red covering every surface. I wouldn’t want it any other way.
Once popping the hood, you are greeted with 360 cubic inches of Mopar V8 awesomeness in the place of the anemic four cylinder that originally resided here. The seller doesn’t say a whole lot about its specs, but even a close-to-stock 360 has to be plenty of fun in the relatively lightweight formerly-FWD Charger. Back when these were relatively new, the Mopar Direct Connection catalog used to offer a V8 conversion kit that supplied a new K-member and other parts, which was a nice gesture to the Mopar faithful who where probably getting an earful from the GM and Ford guys who could still buy contemporary V8 RWD cars. To fit the V8 in there, the seller states that it uses Mustang II parts, so this appears to be a custom job instead of a car that received that kit.
This shot shows how far the engine is set back in the chassis. To fit a V8 in there, you have to clearance the firewall a bit. Otherwise, it looks like it belongs in there. Kudos to keeping the sleepy stock flat hood and running a carb hat instead of a honking schnozz scoop or a cowl hood!
Now, here’s the complicated part: This car has bounced around a bit, and was last seen offered on Craigslist back in 2016 from its original owner and builder for $4800. Seemingly, someone snagged it, and is presumably now bored with how sleepy it is. Now, they are selling it for nearly double, at $9000. It’s hard to judge a value on a car like this, but I’m thinking that it’s somewhere in between that 2016 price and the 2018 price. It’s certainly an oddity, as you don’t see these at all with V8’s and rear wheel drive in a sanitary, street-friendly sleeper guise. It certainly has potential for greatness. But in the eyes of it’s peers, like clean contemporary Camaros and Mustangs, is it worth the slight premium? Let us know in the comments below!
Here’s a link to the Craigslist Ad
Ad text below:
1987 DODGE CHARGER WITH ONLY 44,000 MILES ON IT. I AM THE SECOND OWNER. IT HAS A 360 CU. IN AUTO. WITH A MUSTANG 11 FRONT END, 8 3/4 REAR W/COIL OVERS, TRACTION BARS. HAS OPEN REAR 323. AXLES DRILLED FOR 4 BOLT PATTERN BY MOZER.
CAR RUNS FANTASTIC, VERY STRONG. CARPET IS FADED, FRONT SEATS MATERIAL IS STARTING TO SEPARATE. BATTERY IS 3 MONTHS OLD. OEM ELECTRIC MANUAL, K&N AIR FILTER, ALL PAPER WORK FROM DEALER & MUCH MORE.
HAS FUEL CELL, GAS GAUGE NOT WORKING, NEEDS SENDING UNIT.
TIRES ARE ONE YEAR OLD, 195/14″ W/ ENKIE RIMS, ALSO HAVE NEW 215/14 TIRES FOR REAR. NEW PIONEER RADIO, NEEDS TO BE INSTALLED, ORIGINAL RADIO THEIR. HORN NOT WORKING. THIS CAR IS VERY IMPRESSIVE. DRAWS A LOT OF ATTENTION.
HAS 3″ EXHAUST.
Nice car but $9K? Throwing that price against the wall to see if it sticks. Can’t tell but is that a factory sunroof or one of those cheapies from Van Iderstein back in the day.
First thing to do is get rid of the open rear end. Second is to get rid of some cast iron. Aluminum heads and intake would really wake this thing up.
I agree with both Rock On and Jerry Z. Its worth maybe half the asking. But a cool little street sweeper