Last Titled in ’72: 1971 Dodge Challenger R/T

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Jeff LaveryBy Jeff Lavery

This 1971 Dodge Challenger R/T is quite rough but aside from a paint color change, it could be a largely original specimen that is ripe for restoration. Despite its condition, Mopar fanatics will likely gravitate to the generous factory options and the running, driving condition. No mention is made if the 383 Magnum is numbers-matching, but your first concern will likely be the significant rot that plagues the car’s rear quarters, doors and…well, lots of places. Is this one too far gone or is it begging for salvation? 

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Though the odometer is locked at 8,103, it’s highly unlikely that it’s an original reading. The seats actually appear to be in very good condition despite the condition of the exterior, and inside you’ll find the factory console and Rallye gauge package. It’s hard to tell from this view, but the backseat looks unripped and the driver’s seat appears to be most in need of repair. Other neat factory features include the R/T quarter panel scoops, Posi rear end and rear valence with cut-outs for the exhaust tips. A vital piece of information, as mentioned above, is whether all of the desirable mechanical bits are in fact numbers matching, as that will determine (in my opinion, anyway) just how much trouble this project is worth.

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The overall feeling this Challenger generates is of a car that was used hard and put away wet. While it’s encouraging to know it still runs, the extent of the visible corrosion is worrisome and the car’s Indiana location makes me wonder how often it was driven in the snow or otherwise left exposed to the elements. The seller doesn’t hide from the fact that it’s rusty but merely offers that it’s a “real car” – whatever that means. When he mentions that even the fender tag is rusty beyond saving, it drives home just how ugly the bodywork is going to be on this Challenger. You’ll at least get an extra set of doors with the sale.

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You can view this project-grade Challenger R/T for yourself here on eBay, where there’s a reserve price in place and bidding is up to about $3,500 with four days left. The seller mentions that the car sounds pretty tough with straight headers, and I imagine it was a thrill hearing this R/T fire up for the first time in years. But don’t let that distract you: lots of metal work is needed to set this one right, and it’s not going to be an overnight restoration. Is it worth it, or is this Challenger R/T too far gone?

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Comments

  1. Joe Nose

    Challenger R/T as in Rusty/Trashed.




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  2. Rando

    I honestly can’t see how anyone with “normal” pocketbook could make anything out of this. Someone like Graveyard Carz maybe, but it would have to be an expensive labor of love. Once it was media blasted or dipped, I doubt there would be much left to start with. Yes it deserves to be saved. Use what’s left of the original so that it is an original, as much as possible anyway. I would love to see an honest restoration process. Not the TV version where it goes from trash to treasure in a few episodes. I would suppose all the parts needed to redo it can be bought and welded in.

    And back to the original B5 blue.

    Wow. Just overwhelming to look at. How could someone let this car sit? That just buffaloes me.




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    • Joseph Conner

      Think about it. It was parked in 1972. So who would have ever thought that 45 years later these cars would be what they are today. I agree it’s a shame that it wasn’t put together sooner, but at least it has a chance.




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  3. Joseph Conner

    This car is worth saving. Yes it’s going to take many many many hours and a ton of $$. But if you are going to keep this after being restored, than hours and $$ shouldn’t be a concern. If you are looking to flip after it’s been restored, than you will be out some $$. If it was me, this car wouldn’t leave my side ever!




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  4. JW

    I say if you have the means ( money & talent ) any classic should be saved. Most of us don’t have either or the time and patience so it will go to someone who does or as a parts car. I hope it gets saved from the crusher.




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  5. John K

    Do they sell complete replacement bodies for these such as you can buy for Mustangs and Camaros? Sure that would be expensive, but certainly cheaper than fixing what’s rusted.

    I was over in the Philippines last year and learned that there’s a growing car restoration business going on over there. Cheap labor, and not unskilled. A number of not at all inexpensive marques are being restored over there. Might be worth throwing this one on a boat bound for a fairer climate than Indiana.




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    • Dovi65

      I think every bit of the highly sought after Challengers, Chargers, & Cudas are repro’d now.
      Graveyard cars rebuilt the “Phantom ‘Cuda”, which I believe involved replacing 90% or more of the sheetmetal. The car had been rolled several times, and left to the elements for years.
      At what point in sheetmetal replacements does a car stop being ‘original’ and become a ‘replica’?




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  6. TBall

    All that corrosion and a full body paint job in one year and 8,100 miles on the road? Something is not adding in this math. I love the body style, don’t have anywhere near the dollars or time to make that car presentable/drivable again.




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  7. George

    It doesn’t say that it was last registered in 1972, but that it has a 1972 title. I would say that it spent many years on the road and on salted roads in winter. 108K most likely on the mileage given the amount of rust.




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  8. The Chucker

    Someone, somewhere for the last 40 years has been saying, “No, it’s not for sale, I’m going to restore it someday.” By 2008, that statement was followed by “One just like it sold on TV for $100,000.”




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  9. Bill

    The lower end corrosion is more consistent with water getting thrown up from the road. I’m suspicious of the claim it was parked after only one year of driving. Shame it was left to get this bad.




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  10. Mark 'cuda man

    Definitely worth saving especially in todays world where you can buy everything for these desirable Mopars. I bought my ’70 Barracuda 383 4-speed 41k one-owner car that is “a little” better than this one. The picture shows the original owner standing by my car the day I towed it home. I am honored to own such a machine and will restore in the next few years.




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    • Mark 'cuda man

      Here’s the above car when almost new with the same original owner standing almost the same pose…….

      Now you can see why I want to bring it back to it’s original luster…….




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  11. stillrunners

    Looked at this when it was in Texas…..yes it was sad then and been flipped again.




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  12. moparedtn

    Silly Barnfinds….
    Mopars don’t have “posi’s” – they have SureGrips!




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  13. Doug Towsley

    We are in another bubble again, Talked to a lot of real estate people recently and I am seeing the same thing in the collector vehicle market for cars-trucks and motorcycles.

    Prices are going up and up, lot of flippers and speculators. Where it will end nobody knows but if you look at the last 35 years. Vintage vehicles weather financial ups and downs better than any other investment. So, this car not for the faint of heart, but its certainly worth saving, especially as the Mopar market is especially strong. Whether restored or Restomod, or custom. We stored a friends car here last year for 4 months during his divorce and while he got back on his feet. We had swarms of people approaching us, leaving notes in our mailbox and showing up on our property unannounced. We put up signs NOT FOR SALE, hardly slowed them down at all.

    Finally, we made him buy one of those 10×20 tent things and we hid it on the backside of our property. Theres another Mopar along interstate 5 North of Salem someone was telling me about and had a huge NOT FOR SALE sign on it too. Up in Idaho near Mt Home AFB south of Boise there was several fields full of old cars and I think the farmers who owned them used them for Airman bait. Would shoot at you with buckshot and sometimes rocksalt…

    Go ahead and park something like this in front of your house and see what happens.




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