No Reserve: 1971 Dodge Challenger

Some project builds are more straightforward than others, and some have the potential to empty our wallets faster. This 1971 Dodge Challenger might not be a bad one because while it needs some work, it appears to be a solid and complete classic that a buyer could return to active service pretty quickly. Alternatively, it would make an ideal candidate for an R/T clone that would offer a perfect combination of performance and stunning good looks. It is located in Orange, California, and has been listed for sale here on eBay. It has already received an impressive sixty-eight bids, suggesting that people like what they see. This has pushed the price to $19,100 in this No Reserve auction.

While it might not be perfect, this Challenger presents nicely in a rich combination of Dark Bronze with a White vinyl top. The paint has a few minor flaws and some lightly faded spots, but its overall presentation would be considered acceptable for a survivor-grade car. The condition of the panels is comparable with the paint, in that there are some slight marks and bruises, but nothing that would be considered horrendous. The owner doesn’t mention any problems with rust, and there’s nothing visible in any of the supplied photos. If this Challenger has spent most of its life in California, it is possible that potential buyers might be dealing with a rust-free classic. The chrome looks as tidy as the panels and paint, while I can’t spot any problems with the glass. The Dodge rolls on a clean set of Magnum 500 wheels, and the exhaust exit on either side in front of the wheels suggests that the previous owner liked to be able to clearly hear the bark from the V8 under the hood.

For potential buyers, this Challenger is a model of consistency. This is especially true when we start comparing the exterior presentation with that of the interior. Once again, everything looks tidy and serviceable, with only some minor flaws. The worst of these include a split on the driver’s seat and some fading and deterioration on the carpet. Addressing that second fault would take the buyer a weekend and would cost around $200. A pair of front seat covers would add a further $480 to the tally, making a significant difference to the presentation. The door trims have some marks, but I’m unsure whether these would respond to a deep clean. The remaining upholstered surfaces and plastic look good, with no issues worth noting on the dash or console. This isn’t an interior loaded with luxury touches, but a previous owner has swapped out the original radio for a radio/cassette player.

While it might not be a full-blown muscle car, the 318ci V8 that rests under the hood would have delivered 250hp in its prime. The original owner rounded out the drivetrain of his new toy by specifying a three-speed TorqueFlite transmission, power steering, and power brakes. While a 17.3-second ¼-mile ET might not sound that stunning today, it was considered respectable in 1971. The buyer could extract significantly more performance from this Challenger, and there may be some immediate motivation to do so. The seller indicates that while the vehicle runs and drives, it doesn’t run cleanly and stalls easily. They also state that there is a knock coming from that 318, which sounds rather ominous. I would wager that the buyer will be pulling this V8 pretty soon if I were a betting man. If a rebuild is on the cards, that offers the opportunity to squeeze some additional juice to turn the lemon into lemonade. Alternatively, sourcing and fitting a larger and more powerful motor is worth considering, especially if an R/T clone is dear to the buyer’s heart. The world will be their oyster.

This 1971 Challenger is a tidy survivor that seems to have a lot of potential locked away inside what appears to be a rust-free body. The engine issue is disappointing, but it isn’t the end of the world. It certainly hasn’t deterred potential buyers, with the bidding history graphically demonstrating that. Would you create an R/T clone if you bought it, or would you retain it as an original survivor? More importantly, are you considering joining the bidding war on this classic? If you do, I wish you good luck.


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  1. Gary

    Seems to me that the 71 318 was 230 HP (150 Net), not 250 bhp. Then, why use the ugly aftermarket air cleaner? Do they still have the original, will it even fit anymore? Same with the exhaust. Stock was fine, and didn’t break any noise laws (not that most cops enforce them anymore, wish they would). Wonder why that poor 318 has a knock? Because it has been abused at one time form an immature person. A stock 318 was something to behold. If you needed more, why buy the 318 in the first place? I guess it doesn’t matter because who ever buys this is putting in a 440, and ditching the vinyl roof, and who knows what else?

    Like 7
    • Dave

      When this car was built, it was pretty common. Luxury over sheer performance. Sure, you could build a fire breather but 99 buyers out of 100 were happy with a sporty looking car that only bit a little on insurance and got decent mileage on regular gas. Rebuild the 318 and enjoy it for what it is.

      Like 16
      • Gary

        Had many 318s, never hated any of them.

        Like 10
    • Miminite

      Yes, the underhood air cleaner and other bits are distracting today, but was a popular “upgrade” back in the day. As to the 318, many more of these came with them vs the big power engine options we all think of now.

      Of all the common “musclecars” the vast majority were ordered with smaller engines than the others because they were relatively economical and affordable. We look at $1000 as negligible, but back then it was quite a lot.

      I like this car. If it were mine, would clean it up, repair the interior with stock repro materials from SMS fabrics or similar. For the engine, would take it to original, and just enjoy it. About the only upgrade I’d consider is a rebuilt/junkyard 360 Magnum, and even then would dress it up in stock paint and appearance.

      Like 6
  2. Haynes

    Great car for a serial killer…… in a movie

    Like 5
  3. joenywf64

    I’ve always wondered if side exhaust(including side pipes) could affect the life of the rear tires.

    Like 3
    • Miminite

      I had sidepipe exhaust built by a local exhaust shop back in the day on my ’69 Mustang Sportsroof. Yes, it did affect rear tires lol. It seemed they sure “smoked” alot!

      Like 5
  4. Sarge

    It would seem to me that the side exhaust would just dirty up the rear wheels. Never liked them. I had the exact same car back in the day as was pleasantly surprised how snappy the 318 was. I can only imagine what a beast it would be with a bigger engine. The only excuse for the after market cleaner would be to make it breath better. Looks OK, I’ve seen worse

    Like 5
  5. Ed Casala

    Seems like a great candidate to take back bone stock. Change the exhaust back and new air cleaner. Paint the intake Mopar color and bam, your done.

    Like 8
  6. Moparman Member

    Personally, I would: run the exhaust to the back and through an OEM dual valence and tips, restore the A/C, rebuild the 318 or substitute a 340, perform some TLC on the interior, and maybe, source an R/T hood for it. Then, I would just cruise!! At $20k+ already, GLWTA!! :-)

    Like 8
    • Don

      Everyone says put a 340 in it. Good luck finding one that doesn’t break your bank account.

      Like 5
    • Mopar Mike

      Way too many clones out there, it’s refreshing to see a low performance survivor. My choice would be rebuild the 318 or upgrade to a 340 or 360 and period correct aftermarket wheels and leave the body and interior unchanged except for necessary repairs. No more cloning around.

  7. BigDoc987

    To me the 318 is one of the best motors ever made.

    Like 12
  8. 19sixty5 Member

    I can only hope this isn’t cloned. I’m in agreement with Moparman as far as “mods”.

    Like 4
  9. Tman

    Had a few 318s and a 360. Durable motors. Sometimes a knock can be a harmonic balancer wearing out. It happen to a friend mine’ 76 Volare. It knocked while decelerating or after gunning it a bit from idle. It sounded serious enough to convince it was a rod, but to me didn’t sound like a typical rod knock.
    I took all the belts off and checked the bottom pulley and sure enough the balancer would move.
    He replaced it and the knock was gone.

    Like 4
  10. Keith

    Is this that scam car that was all over the internet “for sale” a couple years ago? Just brought it back with new photos.

    Like 2
  11. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    Keep it stock. The world already has enough R/T clones.

    Like 3
  12. Joseph

    I think that this car is prime for a restomod. I would do the necessary repairs, like reupholster the seats, and fix the exhaust, and then I would buy a demon engine for 14 k, repaint it, put on a hard top or convertible top, and some drag radials, along with other performance parts, including a new intake, and that car would be looking nice.

    • 19sixty5 Member

      Put on a hardtop or convertible top?????????

      • Don

        He must be on drugs. It’s already a hardtop, and a convertible is crazy. Doors and structural would need updating.

        Like 1
  13. arie klapholz

    For those worried about lack of power, rebuild the 318 and punch/stroke it out to a killer 392 inch small block. Easy mods and very streetable 400hp. Kits for this are available from many sources

  14. erik johnston

    agree with moparman. do the exhaust as said. If the engine is original,bore it i did mine with 101/4 comp. A purple shaft little bumpy( i,m running a nanual trans!)mostly stock looking. Gets a lot of looks and more when i start it. I helps that it is a fc7 in violet 1971duster twister LOL I love this challenger- very clean to start with. Maybe i,ll run into it sometime. (not reallyLOL) I would bid -no proper room it good luck to the winner.

  15. erik j

    Yes, keep it stock. its clean as-is and its hard to find a unmolested one like this. As said there are way to many clones- I sure love a real one!

    Like 2
  16. erik johnston

    Yes, keep it stock. its clean as-is and its hard to find a unmolested one like this. As said there are way to many clones- I sure love a real one!

    Like 2
  17. Desert Rat

    Not a big mopar fan but, this car looks stunning to me. Never cared for brownish colors but, this color and the white top is so elegant looking. It just looks tasteful and expensive, I wish I had it in my driveway.

    Like 1

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