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Original 383: 1971 Dodge Challenger R/T

The late 1960s and early 1970s marked one of the most adventurous in American motoring history when it came to the question of paint colors. Subtlety took second place to in-your-face shades like the yellow worn by this 1971 Dodge Challenger R/T. These were not colors that were designed to blend in, but ones that were guaranteed to stand out. Apply them to a classic with power to burn, and manufacturers were onto a winner. This Challenger will need to be restored, but it is a complete classic with some very nice options. It is located in Denver, Colorado, and has been listed for sale here on eBay. Bidding currently sits at $16,599, but the reserve isn’t met. A BIN option is also available, which has been set at $22,500.

The Challenger is finished in Top Banana with a Black vinyl top. There is no escaping the fact that the car will need to be restored, but it does appear structurally sound. The owner admits that the rear quarter panels, trunk pan, and floors will all require replacement. However, he believes that the frame rails are sound and that there are no structural problems to be addressed. These sorts of repairs are not uncommon with Challengers of this vintage, and finding parts will be a straightforward proposition. The rest of the panels look quite good, as do the rockers. The vinyl top seems to be in surprisingly good condition for its age, and there is no visible bubbling that might suggest that rust is developing beneath. Given the level of restoration required, I would be very tempted to peel away the vinyl to confirm that all is well beneath. A replacement top costs around $300 and this could represent a cheap form of insurance. There would be nothing worse than completing this project only to find bubbles forming a few months later. The trim and original wheels look to be in a restorable state, while there are no apparent issues with the tinted glass.

The interior of the Dodge is complete, but once again, it will need some restoration work. The seats could do with new covers, but the remaining trim pieces look pretty promising. Another item to add to the shopping list will be a dash pad because this one seems cracked. Given its performance credentials, it is no surprise to find that the Challenger is equipped with Rally gauges and a factory tach. The console and the pistol grip shifter are original and help this interior to stand out.

Potential buyers in 1971 were offered a few engine choices for their Challenger R/T, and even the “baby” of the bunch delivered performance that wasn’t to be sneezed at. The 383ci V8 offered 300hp under the right foot, and when combined with the 4-speed manual transmission, allowed the vehicle to easily romp through the ¼ mile in 15.3 seconds. That’s what we find under the hood of this car, while the original owner also chose to equip the Dodge with power steering and power front disc brakes. There are both positives and negatives to this beauty. It is claimed to be a full numbers-matching car, and it does run and move under its own power. However, it does run off an external fuel source at present. This is due to one reasonably fundamental issue. The rust in the trunk is bad enough that the fuel tank has had to be removed. This area will need to be repaired before the tank can be reinstalled. Otherwise, the owner believes that it wouldn’t take a lot of work to return the R/T to a roadworthy state.

I have always felt that the Chrysler E-Body offerings from this era were some of the most purposeful ever offered by the company. The Challenger and the Barracuda looked low and muscular, and I believe that it was no coincidence that Dodge chose to take its styling cues from these cars when they introduced the 3rd Generation Challenger in 2008. This one has the potential to be an eye-catching classic once restored, and the spirited bidding to date suggests that I am not alone in my opinion. There is still some way to go before the gap between the bidding and the BIN price closes, but I would be mighty surprised if this classic weren’t on its way to a new home very soon.


  1. Avatar photo J_Paul Member

    Sure, there’s a lot of work to be done here. And that’s not going to be cheap. But the BIN seems almost (gasp) reasonable considering the state of many of the old Mopars that come through here. Desirable model, great colors, stick shift, matching numbers…there’s a lot to like.

    Like 28
  2. Avatar photo gaspumpchas

    I guarantee that 383 with the 4 speed would haul the groceries nicely. The truck problem is so bad you cant mount a gas tank; the one pic doesnt really show anything. Also, I’d insist peeling off the vinyl roof, otherwise you are rolling the dice on a rotten roof. As Jpaul says, this one has a lot going for it especially being a 4 speed car. Good luck and stay safe.

    Like 7
    • Avatar photo gaspumpchas

      trunk problem- dang spell check…

      Like 6
  3. Avatar photo JoeNYWF64

    Possible front end passenger side alignment problem above?
    Oddly, the front wheel above on driver’s side looks small.

    Like 1
  4. Avatar photo john holmes


    Like 0
  5. Avatar photo PRA4SNW

    Ended with Reserve Not Met at $18,325.

    Like 1
    • Avatar photo Gus Fring

      Which is, at least, a reasonable number. I would only tackle a project like this if it was able to be purchased at a number in the low teens. Otherwise, just buy a nice one and save yourself the headache.

      Like 3
  6. Avatar photo Paolo

    I’ve never seen a mopar transmission mount quite like that with the horizontal loop. Can anyone enlighten me on this?

    Like 0

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