Hemi Power: 1971 Dodge Challenger R/T

1971 Dodge Challenger Hemi

Josh MortensenBy Josh Mortensen

Few motors can send a tingle up our spines like a Hemi can. There is just something about the sound of Dodge’s 426 that gets the heart pounding. Then again, what 400+ horsepower motor doesn’t? All that power means little though, if it doesn’t have a great looking body and strong chassis to handle it. As always, looks are definitely subjective, but there’s no denying the Challenger is one of Chrysler’s all-time greats. This 1971 Dodge Challenger R/T is one of only a handful of Challengers to get the Hemi, making it the dream of most Mopar fans. Take a look at it for yourself here on eBay, but be prepared for sticker shock

1971 Dodge Challenger Interior

We know most Mopar fans are as dedicated to their Chrysler products as one can be, but we can’t help but think the prices of many of these cars has gotten out of hand. There was a time when you could pick up a nice Charger or Challenger for nearly nothing, now many of these cars are now worth tens of thousands of dollars or more. And when it comes to Hemi-powered cars, especially Challengers, expect to spend six figures. Ones with rare option combos like this one have recently been trading hands for as much as a quarter million!

Hemi 426

So why are collectors willing to spend so much more for a Hemi-powered Mopar? Well besides the 425 reasons going to the rear tires, the Hemi was a rather rare option. Most buyers went with the higher revving and cheaper 383 or the bigger 440, with its better low end grunt. Less than 500 cars were fitted with the 426 Hemi and only 70 of those were Challengers, making this is one of the rarest Hemi combos out there. To make things even more interesting, this car is one of only twelve cars to be fitted with the shaker hood and one of a dozen to come with an automatic transmission. We would bet that this is the only one with these options to still be in original running condition. Let’s just hope it turns out to be a true Hemi R/T car.

1971 Dodge Challenger

We are always skeptical of supposed ultra-rare Muscle cars, especially ones that are worth so much money. The seller states one curiosity that we would want to research in more detail. They claim they are unable to find the VIN stamp on the radiator supports. This could be nothing, but it is something we would definitely want to look into before spending this kind of money on it. If it turns out to be legitimate, this could be an incredible find, but let’s just hope the next owner sees the value in keeping it original, as we would hate to see it turned into another glossy trailer queen. Does anyone here have any ideas as to why this one might be missing its radiator VIN stamp?

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Comments

  1. jim s

    if the radiator supports were replaced sometime in the past.




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    • Josh Mortensen Josh Mortensen Staff

      That’s the same thought I have too Jim. The bigger question to ask though, is why were they replaced? Was it wrecked and they had to be replaced? Or did someone swap the VIN plates from another Hemi Challenger onto this chassis? Flattening out the stamp in the radiator supports would be rather difficult and extremely obvious, so perhaps they cut the supports and replaced them with bare metal. Just a thought.




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      • jim s

        it is at $115100 right now, with more then 6 days to go, so i guess someone knows a lot more about this then i do. the fact that the transmission cooler is also missing makes it that much more of a red flag to me. i wonder if the radiator supports are unique to or different for a hemi. very interesting.




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  2. Mike

    I’m 32 and I’m into what I grew up with, 80’s and 90’s Honda’s, Toyota’s, VW’s, but I love American Muscle, especially Mopar. If I ever hit Powerball I’d have a 70 and 71 Charger, 70 Challenger, and 71 Cuda in the garage. I love how the Shaker hood looks. I think it looks even better than the Air Grabber/Ram Charger hood. Too bad this one’s an auto though. Aside from the driving experience I think the pistol grip shifter is the best looking one of the era.




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  3. Horse Radish

    If I had to choose this car or a house or even a mansion in some parts of the US I would buy the house.




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  4. FRED

    if anybody finds out the real deal i hope they tell us. back in the day before two strokes the automatic would not be so appealing to me but now i would be happy to to have it.my wallet isn’t big enough for a car like this anymore but i love to follow all mopars on here anyway.




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  5. AZJohn2

    Isn’t there an additional VIN stamping on the top of the drivers side of the cowl? I have personally witnessed where the radiator core support, the cowl vin and the dash vin had been removed and put on a donor car. The only way it could be determined was to pull the grill on the drivers side of the cowl. They had cut out and welded the vin in place from the top, ground it down and painted over it. But they could not or did not do the back side and you could feel the cut and the gap from the backside.




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  6. Jim

    I get real nervous spending that kind of $$$ when they have stories about VIN numbers missing.




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  7. Dirty Dingus McGee

    This one hits all the buttons for me except for one; price.

    As for the missing numbers on the radiator support, that wouldn’t be a deal breaker up front. There are other ways to verify that it is an original Hemi, or a fake. I would also suggest paying a known expert, there are a few, to check out the car. And if it doesn’t check out, don’t buy.

    Or buy it for what is and drive the dog whiz out of it.




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  8. Dirty Dingus McGee

    I’m also curious about the white ‘vert on the drivers side. Looks to be a 67-68, possibly a Fury.




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  9. Jim-Bob

    What pothers me the most is that there were 12 people who wanted a 426 Hemi, in a Challenegr with an automatic! That’s something that just should never have been.




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    • Jim-Bob

      “bothers” and “Challenger”. Yes, I can spell… no I didn’t proofread properly this time…:(




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      • Josh Mortensen Josh Mortensen Staff

        Don’t worry about it Jim-Bob, it happens to the best of us! Yeah I’m right there with you on why you would want an automatic Hemi. It seems like it would defeat the whole point of having a Hemi. I guess if all your going to do with it is drag race, than maybe the automatic would be a better choice?




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  10. MikeH

    A huge engine stuffed into a stone age chassis. I fail to see the allure.




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    • Jim

      See Ron’s post below for an answer to your question of what the allure is. If you still don’t get it after that, then you may want to check for a heart rate.




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    • MarkA

      Just go & watch VANISHING POINT movie & that kinda shows the thinking KOWALSKI all the way!




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  11. ron

    When referring to the Challenger the author mentions 400 plus horsepower….for his and edification and that of other fans….I recently watched a television show that discussed the real horse power of the muscle cars of the seventies….the Chrysler 426 was an astounding 825 hp …out of the box! It met it’s demise when smog control became a gov. mandate……the hemis ran dirty and at the time we didn’t have tech. means to clean them up……now we do …….but somehow the newer versions don’t quite make the ground under them tremble like the originals…long live the 426!!!!!




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    • Richard

      I seriously doubt Chrysler put an 825hp engine in the hands of the public in the late ’60s-early ’70s. I think I might have seen that same TV show you cite, I recall watching it several years ago and screaming “BULL****” at the screen about every three minutes. They didn’t just talk about the Hemi, if I’m not mistaken they also tested the 427 Ford and a 409 Chevy (but there were a couple of others I’m not recalling right now). I’d bet money that even the full-race NASCAR versions of the 426 Hemi didn’t make 825hp. Remember that you’re dealing with carburetors, no computers or any other electronics, and basically engine technology that was already 25-30 years old or more when this Challenger was built. Those engineers would’ve been hard-pressed to find 500+ hp for a street machine in those days, forget 800+.




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  12. geomechs

    I’ve always had a soft spot for a ’71 Challenger RT. I’d even settle for a 383 Magnum/auto. Hemis are nice but they do require more time under the hood. I spend a lot of time under the hoods of many people’s cars so I’m not all that fussy to spend time under mine, unless I was retired, and didn’t have to worry about everyone else’s. Nice car here! Sure hope it’s the real thing and I sure hope that the new owner is happy with it.




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  13. ConservativesDefeated

    I’m with Jim Bob…a vinyl roof and an automatic for chrissakes on a Hemi?

    Sounds like the dealers little ladies car. I can remember back then thinking these things were big gas hogs..when gas was 35 cents a gallon!

    As for the bid price.see PY BArnum




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  14. ConservativesDefeated

    P.T Barnum




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