Frugal Friday, Hemi On A Budget

“There are more things in heaven and earth…than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances, and one man in his time plays many parts.”

– Shakespeare


The Chrysler Hemi engine has a long history, dating back to the introduction of the first version in the 1951 model year. That iteration was produced through 1958. The second generation, the famous “Elephant,” was available from model years 1966 through 1971. The current generation was first introduced as a truck engine beginning with the 2003 model year.

The “baby” of the modern Hemi family (Chrysler Corporation trademarked the word Hemi) is the version first used in 2003, a 5.7 liter/345 cubic-inch engine with an output of either 345 HP/375 LB-FT of torque or 340 HP/390 LB-FT. A revised version of this engine was introduced in 2009, producing 372 HP/400 LB-FT in the Challenger R/T automatic and 375 HP/410 LB-FT in the manual version. Without further ado, from AutoTrader, a 2012 Challenger R/T Classic:



This car has about 33,000 miles and is in Bright Silver Metallic over Dark Slate Gray (the interior looks black in the photos). The ad copy differs on what transmission is in the car, listing it as an automatic in one place and as a manual in another. Regardless, the asking price is just $18,991 and is actually well under the Kelley Blue Book® value range of $21,359-$23,868 shown at the bottom of the ad. Of course, the fact that the car was, apparently, involved in two accidents between June, 2017 and August, 2018 is the major contributor to the car’s asking price relative to “value.” Some hood misalignment is visible in a couple of the photos and the CARFAX® reports the first accident caused damage to the right front.

So, how comfortable would you be buying a car with prior accidents? Sometimes, buying a car on a budget or below “value” means buying a car with some issues. Still, being able to buy a Hemi Challenger built in the last 10 years and with under 35,000 miles for less than $20,000 might be worth the “risk.”








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12 thoughts on “Frugal Friday, Hemi On A Budget

  1. I would probably take a chance, but knowing the history I would likely do a pre-purchase inspection. Paint matching can be tricky, especially given that the wrecks happened when the car was 5 and 6 years old. I would also like to be able to take it to an independent shop to check the alignment, at my expense. That being said, I have bought vehicles “sight unseen” over the years. They were all older vehicles that I was pretty sure would need some work, and almost all did, so I wasn’t surprised to find older repairs that the seller knew nothing about.

    At least this example has the wrecks reported to CarFax. Many minor(ish) wrecks don’t as they aren’t turned in to an insurance company. Joe who has a minor wreck, knows Bob at a body shop and pays cash to have his car fixed (I have been Bob a few times over the years). No insurance claim, nothing reported to CarFax.


      1. To your point, took my car to the dealer for the dreaded “Check engine light”. Fortunately only a loose hose that was taken care of no charge so I got an early oil change.
        Next to me was a guy getting his post purchase car inspection; I guess in Maryland if you buy an out of state car you need an inspection. Lo and behold, the clean CarFax car had three bad wheel bearings. The service manager was trying to be diplomatic and explain how unlikely it would be to be to get three out of four bad wheel bearings on the same car vs someone dogged the hell out of said car. They did advise he NOT drive home with SAID car.


      2. Because the wheel bearing issue was probably not the result of an accident, CarFax would have no record. I still think it’s prudent to have a car examined by a professional before purchase, but that is going to happen less frequently as time goes on.

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  2. To respond to your question, I am always ready to accept a bargain given a CarFax report of the details of any accident. I’ve bought cars restored with a salvage title situation. One such car was a Nissan Sentra that was rebuilt from two vehicles, one with a destroyed front end, the other a destroyed rear end.


      1. Truth be told, I would be afraid of a flooded car more so than the idea of piecing two vehicles together. Of course, I expect a real bargain and am willing to drive it until it’s ready for the junk heap. My wife drove that Sentra for several years and we gave it to our daughter when we got Lynn a different car.


  3. My current project truck had a clean 1948 AZ title which is why I decided to purchase this 1948 Ford F-1, knowing full well that I would do a complete it was in pieces. The excellent shop who did the custom Dodge Dakota independent front suspension also did some frame work. Steve told me that when he had it on his frame table the front and the rear of the frame were in line it is just that the middle was a little askew probably the result of some long ago accident. You must be prepared for a few “surprises” with a 60 year old truck. Frame is straight NOW.

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  4. My 2003 Dakota was hit in the rear, by someone I knew who was following me. I’d had it only 3 months. Being a pick up, damage limited to bending the bumper and license plate area, I never thought much of it over 13 years of ownership.
    But the way they package things now, with modules and equipment in every square in of space, I’d want an inspection to determine everything was repaired correctly before buying.
    And, biased as I may be, I’d be wary of a Hemi with 2 accidents… makes me suspect it may have been too much car for the owner, and/or those low miles may have been hard ones.

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