Plum Crazy Project: 1971 Dodge Challenger

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The Dodge Challenger arrived on the scene in 1970, the last of the “pony car” entrants. It was modestly successful the first year, but shrinking demand for performance cars beginning in 1971 hit sales of the Challenger especially hard. Depending on the records you consult, this ’71 convertible may be one of only about 180 built that year (roughly 1,800 drop-tops in total with 10% overall Challenger production painted Plum Crazy purple). It will need loads of work but has its original 318 cubic inch V8 and a lot of documentation. It even comes with a parts car to sweeten the deal. Located in North Caldwell, New Jersey, this rare Mopar is available here on craigslist for $18,000. Tip of the fedora goes to Gunter Kramer for this tip!

Challenger would share its new E-body platform with the Plymouth Barracuda, but they rode on different wheelbases and shared no sheet metal. In its first year, the Challenger saw the production of more than 76,000 copies, which was a far cry from the Ford Mustang’s peak in 1966 (607,000), but the market was well saturated after five years. Output would drop by two-thirds in 1971 with the Barracuda suffering a similar experience. The insurance companies had done a deal on muscle cars at that point and since the Challenger was often marketed as a performance car, its sales would suffer,  too. Things didn’t get much better for 1972-74 and Chrysler got out of the pony car business after that.

Convertibles wearing Challenger badging were rare in 1971 and would be non-existent by 1972 as Chrysler scaled back. One out of every 10 Challengers built that year came finished in FC7 Plum Crazy, which was known as In Violet over at Plymouth (the Dodge name was much sexier). About two-thirds of the drop-tops assembled had the basic 318 V8 like in the seller’s car, but it looks to have been picked clean of many parts. The same V8 is in the 1972 donor car (no picture provided from the exterior), so maybe you can borrow from it since the purple car is numbers matching.

Besides it being both a ragtop and having the hot color, this Challenger has the benefit of coming with its broadcast sheet to back up the seller’s claims. While the floors and quarters panels have been redone on the primary car, we’re told more is needed. For example, it looks like this Dodge was in the process of becoming an R/T tribute given its hood, so do you go back to a regular hood if your notion is to stay close to original? Items on the MIA list include bumpers, some glass, some interior pieces, and the gas tank. But it’s a factory A/C machine if that hardware is still around (or you can take it off the parts car). If you bought this Dodge, what would be your goal?  Restoration or restomod?

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. Michelle RandStaff

    Great article, Russ! almost makes me want to buy it…. but for the small motor. Well, wait a sec. A swap?

    Like 2
  2. Jim Muise

    Wow, another give away by the seller, yeah,right!LOL

    Like 1
  3. Grant

    Purple? Sure wouldn’t be a must for me to have. Plenty of wonderful colours from Chrysler that year. Can never go wrong with bright red, and I think they had five shades of blue as well. The frost white blue was awesome. Had a Duster in that colour, very sharp. The 1971s had nicer front and rear ends, at least i think so. The 318 was pretty much the perfect engine for the Challenger, why would you change it?

    Like 3
  4. Big Bear 🇺🇸

    Now this is a good buy! 2 Mopars for $18,000 comes with engines.. well I would use the Shaker hood package painted the factory color of 71 which think was argent Gray. Definitely plum crazy the rest of the vehicle. Remove the 318 install a stroker 408 6 pack setup pushing 450 to 500hp. Reinforce the frame so no twisting will happen. Try to get rubber bumpers for this. This will look hot when it gets done. It worth spending money on this. Good luck to the next y. 🇺🇸🐻

    Like 2
  5. Lathebiosas

    I think that’s a good deal if the work that’s been done is good. I was surprised to see it still available.

    Like 0
  6. Steve

    Good work BF using correct terminology I’ve heard self proclaimed mopar “experts” call this factory color plum crazy purple. You paying attention graveyard cars?

    Like 0
  7. Big Bear 🇺🇸

    Still available.. I wish I was 20 years younger and have a bigger garage I would buy this in a heartbeat!! And make this a great looking Mopar that Mark Worman be happy with!😂 I am surprised Mark didn’t buy this! Being a Mopar guy this is a great price. 🐻

    Like 0
  8. Chuck Foster Chuck Foster

    I was always ambivalent towards the Plum Crazy, then I bought a 68 clone Bee, the color kind of grows on you.
    Remember the 1970 Challenger Indy 500 Pace cars? Orange with white interior, I missed out on one for $4500 back in the 90s.

    Like 2
  9. Bitter1

    I had a 70 challenger convertible 440, 4 speed ( orange) white top, it’s been a while, but I thought the fuel door was on the driver’s side ?

    Like 0
  10. PRA4SNW


    Like 0

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