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1 of 1,774: 1971 Dodge Challenger Convertible

The Dodge Boys introduced the Challenger for 1970, sharing a new pony car platform with Plymouth’s redesigned Barracuda. Both were hot looking cars and could be had in wild colors with large engines. The 1971 Challenger would be little changed other than the bumpers got bigger over time. This 1971 Challenger convertible has been holed up in a barn since 1984. It comes with the basic 318 V-8 engine which is a replacement for one of the same dimensions. Duluth, Minnesota is where this car can be found and it’s available here on craigslist for $35,000. Thank you, Dave Frick, for bringing this rather rare ragtop to our attention.

Both the Barracuda and Challenger had successful launches in 1970 and both would see a sharp sales decline the following year. We’re not sure why that happened. The Challenger saw production of nearly 77,000 in ’70 and yet only 27,000 or so in ’71. However, a V-8 equipped ’71 Challenger convertible would be in somewhat rare territory at just shy of 1,800 copies. Engines choices would remain unchanged, starting with a 198 cubic inch six-cylinder all the way up to the 426 Hemi. All powerplants larger than the 340 would be gone in ’72 as emissions and insurance pressures took their toll on fire-breathing cars. Thanks for the data help, Challenger Specs.

While this Challenger is said to have been locked away for the last 36 years, it’s far from original. It left the factory painted yellow (perhaps one of the Hi-Impact colors), but repainted white at some point. Also, the current engine is not numbers-matching. The whole car has some 117,000 miles on it, but the mileage on the motor isn’t known. To get it running again and out of the barn, we’re told that only a new fuel pump was needed to get it going (along with a battery, we assume). We hope that all the fluids have since been changed, but there is no mention. The tires are ancient and cracking, so the next owner will need to spring for a new set of rubbers.

The body doesn’t seem to have any dents or dings to speak of, but there is some rust trying to break through on the fenders, rockers, and wheel wells. What we can see of the undercarriage doesn’t look problematic, but where there’s smoke there’s fire, so a good inspection of it up on a lift would be in order. We’re also not treated to any photos of inside the trunk or under the hood which you would expect for the money being asked for this car.

What we can see of the interior is curious. The front seats and all look nice, but the back seat is filthy. It looks like there has been an attempt to clean up the car, so perhaps the photos used were taken at different times. We get the impression that with some tires, this car could be driven regularly. But I’d want to know more about the health of the mechanical parts after 36 years and I would consider taking this car back down to metal and repaint it the original factory color.

That’s a busy to-do list for a car the seller is asking serious coin for. Hagerty says $35,000 is the top end for a 318 coupe, so a convertible would go somewhat higher.  And NADA says a ragtop with a performance powerplant could hit $60,000 or more. So, the question becomes is this car a good buy at the seller’s price point?


  1. Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

    Good price point for the seller or seriously well-heeled/hardcore/thunderstruck enthusiast..
    Curiosity abounds RE: really grungy back seat and panels vs. exceptionally clean front seat and carpet. Perhaps it was renovated but un-noted due to the space/price on wordage?

    Regardless, a nice looking car that would be a great Sunday Driver-unless you live on the Left Coast as the owner is imperiled by the strangling CARB standards as they become more stringent every year..

    Like 4
  2. Joe Haska

    The rust showing through could be a challenge, but it really would be a great car.

    Like 1
  3. William

    They must use a lot of salt on the roads in Duluth during the winter. I bet there is a lot of hidden rust, too bad, a beautiful car. If it had just been a summer ride, then no rust at all would have been apparent, so it must have had at least some winter driving exposure.

  4. B-rad jeepster

    If you are going to be a flipper at least clean everything and take the Wisconsin plates off if you are in another state.Just saying

    Like 2
  5. Kenny

    In my experience here in Minnesota, those paint bubbles mean rust through.

    Like 7
    • Howard A Member

      A Wisconsin plate would send me screaming into the night,,,

      Like 9
  6. Tooyoung4heyday Tooyoung4heyday Member

    The beginning description here is incorrect as the challenger had four headlights all five years. The cuda/barracuda went from 2 headlights to 4 in ’71, then back to 2 for ’72-74. The challenger for ’71 only changed mildy with subtle grille and tail panel changes from the ’70 model. That being said its hard to say what this should be worth other than what someone is willing to pay. 318 base challenger but the convertible helps. I’d ditch the whitewalls and repaint it yellow. As is normal the white door panels yellowed so that needs attention too. Otherwise seems fairly well preserved. Have to watch and see, good luck to new owner, should be a nice cruiser.

    Like 4
    • Russ Dixon Russ Dixon Staff

      Thanks, Tooyoung, for catching my oopsy. I had Barracuda on the brain. Article has been corrected.

      Like 1
  7. Marty Staff

    This thing is the “Complete Financial Devistation” starter pack. The price is way out of line. Those bubbles are a sign of rust yet to be found. Rust repair of convertible Challengers is expensive and time consuming.

    A restoration is going to be expensive but I love these things so I’m up for it at about half of the list price.

    Like 6
  8. SouthJerseyMike

    The biggest engine you could get in a 1971 Convertible was the 383. There were no R/T Converts in 1971.

    Like 1
  9. Maestro1 Member

    I’m with Howard. Always good to hear from him. Howard, do you know what’s going on at Hemmiongs? Many Editors left, new owners and so on? Very disappointing changes in it.
    Barn Finders: Yes, this needs to get on a lift and look carefully at its bones.
    I think the car is overpriced.

    Like 2
    • Howard A Member

      Hi Maestro, hope all is well by you. Not sure about Hemmings. I think they went through, or are going through an age dilemma. A lot of the original stalwarts are, well, dying, and a new crowd has different interests. Hemmings has always attracted the best of the best, and followers with money to back them up, where as here, it seems like “regular” folks with plausible projects offered, although, sadly, that’s changing too with 5 figure beaters and that’s not BF’s fault.

      Like 1
  10. K. R. V. Member

    One of my older cousins, the oldest girl in my mothers brothers family, was an original owner of a 71 Challenger SE Convertible, in dark met green, black bucket seats interior with Slap Stick Automatic, 318, but had a GoPack, that had heavy duty disk brakes in front, HD Shocks and most importantly a 3:55 TracLoc rear differential, her father was sure she ordered as such, only due to the fact she was a nurse and had to get to work in the snow! That was the best answer, that also helped the car GO! She also had AM/FM 8 track with a reverb control knob with a speaker up on the center of the dash and another up between the rear seats, that sounded pretty good in the day! I have good memories of that car! As I was 16 at the time, she was like an older sister to me, plus I helped her clean an wax all the cars in both of our families! Because they lived at the end of a path that went from our back yard to theirs. Other older male cousins were kind of jealous of her sweet Challenger, but one had a 70 Chevelle SS454, the other a beautiful turquoise 67 GTO, with white interior and top! Like Archie Bunker used to say,”those were the days”!

    Like 3
  11. gaspumpchas

    Good Advice, Maestro! For 35 Large you want to see what you are getting, look it over good and see if its what you want. For all of that coin you would think the guy would spring for some new tires. Good luck and stay safe.

  12. George Mattar

    Way overpriced. Those bubbles mean rust. Rust equals $$$$$$$ For $35,000 you can have a relative new Challenger R/T with no rust.

    Like 1
    • K. R. V. Member

      Yea you would think so huh? But it was only a couple years ago my cousin, the original owner of a 71 Challenger I described above was offered a new Grand Cherokee 4×4, Limited for hers, at the same dealer she originally bought it at. Of course it had only 61,000 easy garage kept miles on it. Even driven daily till 6 years old, when she bought a second car for bad weather. But her Challanger had not a scratch on the original paint, a brand new top and perfect interior, everything working an NO rust anywhere!

  13. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    I’ll bet a Camry could outrun it.
    I’m surprised none of the readers so eager to point that out haven’t mentioned that yet.

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