Slant Six Power! 1971 Dodge Challenger

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This ’71 Challenger wears an older restoration that should still attract a lot of attention. It’s finished in Renault Green with lots of clear-coat which is a slight departure from stock. When you popped open the hood, you’d expect to see a 383 or 440 V8, right? Or at least a 340. Nope, you’d find a Slant Six, which has been nicely dressed up. Does this add up to a Challenger that will command big bucks?  The seller thinks so as the bidding has reached $24,100 and the reserve is still unmet. The Dodge is available here on eBay and can be found in O’Fallon, Missouri.

Dodge was the last major player to offer a “pony car,” getting into the game more than five years after the firestorm that the Ford Mustang is credited with starting. However, Dodge’s partner-in-crime, Plymouth, beat Ford by 17 days with the Valiant-based Barracuda. For 1970, the Challenger would share an all-new E-body platform with the Barracuda, but they used separate sheet metal. Nearly 77,000 Challengers were built that first year, yet the total dropped to just 27,377 in the second. The sporty nature of the car attracted most buyers to a V8 engine, which explains why only 1,672 Challengers were sold in 1971 with a Slant-Six. If you included only those with a TorqueFlite automatic, the number was only 873.

Besides its physical beautiful condition, the 225 cubic inch engine might be the car’s other main attraction due to its rarity. The machine underwent a restoration about a decade ago and we assume the drivetrain was rebuilt then. Quite a lot of bling has been added under the hood, so that’s a reasonable assumption. An 8 ¾ rear end with Sure Grip was added and – more recently – the car’s suspension and brakes have been renewed. We’re told that it runs and drives well, but a small oil leak has developed that should be investigated.

When all the cosmetic work was done, an R/T hood was added to make the car looks meaner than it is. The vinyl top was replaced, and the bumpers were treated to new chrome. While the paint looks sharp, the body isn’t perfect. The seller tells us there is some minor bubbling on the driver’s side rear quarter panel down at the bottom. An easy fix if you can match the paint. The interior was also restored, and an extra layer of insulation was added under the carpets. However, the glove box door needs to be painted and reinstalled, the driver’s seat track isn’t quite right, and the arm fell off the speedometer, so you won’t know how fast (or slow) you’re going.

At 83,000 miles, you can tool around in style with a vintage-style stereo system that features Bluetooth and upgraded speakers. Hagerty proclaims that a ’71 Challenger in Excellent condition is worth on the high side of $30,000, but that’s with a V8. You might think a Six would be worth less money, but given the work done to dress it up and its small production numbers, perhaps not. But here’s an important question: if you drove it to Cars & Coffee, would you dare park it in the muscle car section or somewhere else? After all, it’s a sheep in wolf’s clothing.

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  1. Moparman MoparmanMember

    This one looks good, the /6 is a surprise, but you just don’t see them anymore. Contrary to what the general public thinks, a the /6 CAN be souped up w/ the right parts combo. This one has had a lot of good things added to it, although (IMO) it seems to be getting a bit pricey; but hey! what do I know? GLWTA!! :-)

    Like 13
    • AMCFAN

      Yes you can build a slant six. No way it will ever be a world beater no matter how much money you would throw at it. It would only run better than most other six cylinder engines. Power for dollar = V8.

      Something to be said for the low build amount. Rare doesn’t equate to value.

      I can imagine the poor kid into cars who got one like this for his 16th birthday and opened the hood. We were all young once. Bringing the latest Hot Rod/CarCraft tucked in your Social Studies book. Talk about heartbreak. A car that looks like a powerhouse that clearly isn’t. He had to hide it in the back of the high school lot. Everyone knows cool kids had the fast cars.

      This is pretty surprising if the bids are legit. There is a ton of iron one could buy that would certainly be more enjoyable. A newer Challenger with a Hemi for one. You could even drive and enjoy it year around.

      Like 8
      • Gary

        Any 16 year old kid who got this new as a present and lamented about the engine is a spoiled rotten brat that deserved nothing. They talk about the poor collecting undeserved “entitlements”, you know such frivolity such as food and healthcare. Yet we never equate the well off who feel entitled to the very best of everything, often through no fault of their own.

        Like 28
      • nlpnt

        I’m sure if that hypothetical kid threw a hypothetical tantrum about it his hypothetical dad would’ve shipped his hypothetical butt off to the Hypothetical Military Academy (Go, Fighting Strawmen!)


        Like 11
      • Gary

        @nplnt, 45 was sent to military school for being a little turd, yet he got a red sports car from Papa. Different people live by different rules.

        Like 9
      • Jost

        Maybe it was just a man or woman who liked the way the car looked but wanted economy and did’nt care about big block power? There we’re so many with 6 cyl. engines back when these we’re new.. sixers and 318’s we’re more popular then the big blocks ( and 340’s). While I love hot rods, resto mods and big V8’s its amazing that this car never had an engine swap. I would leave it as is and I hope that whomever buys it leaves the 6 in it. There are not enough of these base engine cars out there anymore.

        Like 3
      • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskeyMember

        AMCFAN remarked; “Rare doesn’t equate to value.”

        For over 5 decades I’ve been telling car [and old toy] owners something similar:

        Sometimes a vintage item is rare today because nobody wanted them when it was new. Generally this equates to very few wanting them now.

        I’m not going to provide vehicle examples here, because Barn Finds has such a huge readersip base, that whatever example I pick, someone will be offended!

        But I’ll give a vintage toy example: In the 1960s Topper Toys introduced the “Johnny Lightning” series of toys, and they did not sell well. I recently sold off a large collection of vintage toys at auction, and while popular toymakers like Mattel sold well, the few Johnny Lightning toy sets sold for less than they cost back in the ’60s!

        Like 2
      • JoeNYWF64

        I seem to remember when u add speed parts to a inline 6, you kill the mpg & create a lot of not so desireable exhaust
        noise. lol. Plus those parts are very expensive & not the easiest to find.

        Fitting 2 big friends in the tight leg room back seat of a MODERN challenger(forget modern mustangs & camaros) would be a “challenge”, compared to the ’71- plus it’s very claustrophobic inside these gangsta glass modern ones.
        & try to find even a used 15 yr old 6 cyl Chally for pocket change like back in the day – not gonna happen! As for even a used 15 yr old hemi, the kid or his dad better be rich!
        Problem is, most of these modern pony cars are babied & garaged & there aren’t many OF them!, unlike back in the day.
        I have yet to see even ONE!! modern say 15 yr old pony car with faded paint or that has even ONE dent!!(let alone beat up), or parked outside consistently, unlike back in the day. These loaded expensive cars are not affordably built for young single people – they COULD be very inexpensive IF many std features were optional & they offered 150 hp v6’s & 200 hp v8’s, like back in the day. Most drivers do not need a 310 v6. That kind of power costs money. But greed has taken over, unlike back in the day.

        Like 0
    • nlpnt

      FWIU these are substantially heavier than an A-body Mopar as well, so anyone interested in making the most of a /6 would likely put it in one of those. Indeed one of the reasons the E-bodies didn’t do better was that they hit the market just as insurance companies jacked up rates on big-block muscle and the 318/340 versions were slower than similarly-powered Dusters because of the extra weight that was engineered in to allow big-block power.

      Like 3
      • Gary

        Only about a 100 pounds difference. About what my lady weighs, and I wouldn’t want to leave home without her, she is too gosh darn pretty, just like a Challenger over a Demon.

        Like 8
  2. Randy

    It’s always nice to see one that hasn’t had an engine swap. My guess is the ones that were produced, many of them have been butchered or used as donor cars for big block projects. I might even be a player if it had a four speed. To
    me that’s all it’s missing to make me consider a bid.

    Like 11
    • Gary

      You could get a four speed with a 318, but not a SS. Just a three speed. Chrysler never tooled up for that in those years. Late with the Volare you could get a 4 speed, but it was a three speed plus over drive, not all that much fun.

      Like 6
    • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskeyMember

      I had a 1969 Pontiac Lemans hardtop with the 4.1L Sprint 6 OHC engine, with factory 4 barrel carb, dual exhaust manifold, & polished cam cover, 4-speed, hood tach, buckets & console. It was a pleasure to drive, and while not equal to a big block, it was just as fast off the line as a regular SBC.

      At one car show 30+ years ago, I had the car parked between a 1965 GTO and a 1970 Lemans with a 400. After opening the hood on my car, I had a crowd develop around the open hood, with multiple people saying things like “I never knew Pontiac had such an engine!”

      Many people were amazed to discover the Pontiac OHC engine was basically a Chevy 6 block with the overhead cam head.

      Like 0
  3. TimS

    Nothing against the Leaning Tower of Power, as my family owned a van equipped with one, but even though this is a beautiful car, but I’d want everything to be working properly before paying north of $20k for most anything with a slant six in it.

    Like 12
  4. Ron Ron

    Beautiful car!

    Like 0
  5. JIm

    In addition to fixing what’s broken, I’d want to swap out that chrome valve cover and chrome air cleaner cover for originals….not just to make it stock but they look silly on a 225 engine. Gotta ditch that silly steering wheel, too.

    Like 6
    • Gary

      I believe the steering wheel is almost period correct. Came with higher end cars, though.

      Like 7
  6. Autoworker

    Nice cruiser, I’d leave the engine right in there. Does have a small laundry list of items to take care of. Wonder how difficult to match the color for the rust repair?

    Like 4
  7. HoA Howard AMember

    Hooray! FINALLY, something more useful than a hemi. I’ve long maintained, these older cars were such nice rides, but their fire breathing motors, while perfectly acceptable in 1971, are horribly out of date, and mostly for bragging rights today. “Six in a row, makes ‘er go” has been my mantra from the very beginning (4 cylinders, not so much) and a motor like this will zip you down the road @65, get 20+ mpg, and you can cruise along in a ’71 Challenger without looking for a gas station. Now, whether it’s a 5 figure car, like it’s firebreathing brothers, nah, in this regard, it’s just a 6 cylinder Challenger. One refreshing note, the spoiled brats probably wouldn’t even look at this car.

    Like 15
  8. Karl

    It’s a pretty nice looking car. But I have to say the leaning tower of power? Would be gone! I am not buying a car like this to drive every day and I could care a less about mileage. I would consider a well built 440 with a nice fuel injection setup on it making a nice conservative 500 HP in my eyes a car can’t just be all show with no g to back it up!

    Like 4
  9. 37Hotrod

    Why would you need to swap in a sure grip rear end with a stock slant six? You would be hard pressed to do a one wheel peel on ice with an open diff.

    For anyone doubting the hop up potential of the slant six, go to YouTube. There’s a video of a slant six Valiant destroying a Hellcat Challenger.

    Like 6
  10. Pit Stop Pauly

    I always loved the Slant 6, although mine were always in an early 60s Valiant or Lancer, and later in a cheap Dodge pu. Considering I actually worked after school to pay for my own car and fuel, gas mileage made a difference to me! Add the fact that these were basically bulletproof, and with a 3 speed and a little after market magic could light up one tire pretty effectively! Sure do miss that old Valiant!

    Like 4
  11. JoeNYWF64

    You can bet that motor will be pulled by the new owner – chrome or no chrome.
    Same with any 1st or 2nd gen 6 cyl camaro.

    Like 3
    • PRA4SNW

      I am a fan of originality, so I would normally say that this car should retain its Slant 6.

      However, in this case, so many liberties have been taken with the restoration that removing the engine is just one more modification over stock and probably should have been done when the car was “restored”.

      Set the engine in the back of the garage and throw something exciting in.

      Like 0
  12. ErnieSC

    I find it sad that no matter how nice a car is; no matter how rare/scarce it is; no matter Auto vs. Straight Drive; Most everyone on Barn Finds Post only Negative Comments.

    Folks, I’ll be 74 next month and just diagnosed with a horrible disease.

    I Love All Cars – Some more than others – but lighten up. Just because a particular “Color” isn’t to Your Taste doesn’t mean it’s Ugly to others.

    You’re entitled to your opinions but once again – Lighten Up.

    I Promise You! Life is SHORT!!!

    Like 14
    • BhoweMember

      Completely agree. I like this car from the engine to the color. Wouldn’t be interested a bit if it was a v8. Awesome that its something different with the 6

      Like 3
    • HoA Howard AMember

      Hi Ernie, since we’re mostly “armchair ” critics here, with no real intention of ever buying anything, we’re free to blow our exhaust out with little if any consequences. It’s just a BS session for most, and quite frankly, I don’t know why comments are even allowed, but I’m not going to shoot myself in the foot,,,again.
      I feel for your situation, but, and I certainly don’t mean to be cold, lucky you made it to 74. I know, at the “end”, we all wish for “just a little more”,,,it doesn’t work that way. At 74, you’ve lived a life most can only dream about, and the future looks mighty bleak, so be happy we lived the time frame that we did. I feel sorry for future generations. We had fun, real fun, on a shoestring, I might add and a telephone was for calling someone, not the knowing the price of tea in China, or whatever. Like Archie Bunker always said, “Guys like us we had it made,,,those were the days”. Best of luck, pal, because that’s exactly what it is,,,luck of the draw. It’s been said, “life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer to the end, the faster it goes”..

      Like 4
    • Jost

      Wishing you strength in your battle, keep your faith brother!

      Like 1
  13. Mark

    Only need a weekend to remove and replace that chicken motor.

    Like 1
  14. Kevin

    I like it,just cool to see a non v8 head turner sometimes!

    Like 2
  15. Chris

    Leave it just the way it is . It makes it more cool that way .

    Like 1

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