Shed Find: 1971 Dodge Challenger 383

Dodge was the last major player to field a pony car. The Challenger debuted in 1970, five full years after the Ford Mustang took the automotive world by storm. The cars were little changed going into 1971, which would include the seller’s coupe which has been in a storage shed for the past 35 years. It’s rough around the edges – okay, really rough – but could make a good project if the price is right. Located in San Francisco, California, the seller says he’s “testing the waters” on buyer interest at $25,000 here on craigslist. A nod of the ball cap goes to rex m for sending this one our way!

Challenger sales were good the first year at nearly 77,000 units. But the muscle car movement was cooling off going into the seventh decade, due to market saturation and rising insurance premiums. Since the pony car – and especially the Challenger – were dependent on performance cars, sales dropped to 27,000 copies the following year. In the case of the standard-issue Challenger (not the R/T), just 412 were produced with the 383 cubic inch V8, 4-barrel carburetor, and a TorqueFlite automatic.

We’re told this ’71 Challenger was sidelined around 1986 hasn’t seen daylight since. It is numbers matching, so the motor and transmission date back to when the car left the assembly line. The odometer reads just shy of 90,000 miles, so it was somewhat active during its first 15 years. We’re guessing the Dodge was painted in Hemi Orange when new with a black vinyl top and a matching vinyl interior. But there is a considerable amount of dirt, grime, and surface rust covering the entire car.

The seller doesn’t bring up the subject of corrosion, but we’d be surprised if you didn’t find some after cleaning the car up. The interior is equally rough with at least the bucket seats being worn out. But the seller’s photographs aren’t plentiful not do they show much of the car close up, so you’d have to see it in person to determine what it’s worth to you as a project. The seller doesn’t plan to clean it up but does expect to get it running soon, which suggests its mechanical issues may be minimal.


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  1. Steve Clinton

    “The interior is equally rough with at least the bucket seats being worn out.”

    “Worn out”? More like a rodent buffet.

    Like 19
    • Bill McCoskey

      Bucket seats? Where? All I see is a black bench seat with folding center armrest and folding seat backs for rear seat access.

      Like 8
      • Steve Clinton

        Brings to mind the movie quote “Better bring me a bucket, I’m gonna throw up.”

        Like 3
      • piston poney

        its called a jump seat

        Like 1
  2. Steve Clinton

    Wow, the word ‘patina’ is never mentioned!

    Like 10
    • George Louis

      More like Caddy Shack when the kid goes from the bar area of the club and gives up his load inside the Porsche before the guy gets in the car to drive away!!!

  3. Gary Rhodes

    Testing the water? Decent pictures would help, bench seat doesn’t help.

    Like 4
    • Gary

      Oh come on, a bench seat spells romance, buckets are for birth control. What are you guys, lovers or grease monkeys?

      Like 26
      • Steve Clinton

        Grease monkey lovers?

        Like 4
    • piston poney

      belive it or not chrysler bench seat were lighter then buckets by around 20 pounds, thats why big power cars that people would bye to go drag raceing would be ordered with bench, now 20ibs wasnt much of a diffrence but hey whne it comes to raceing every pound counts

      Like 1
      • Valentine

        Every factory lightweight drag car (aluminum-nose Max Wedge cars, ’65 A990 Super Stock B-bodies, ’66 SS/D Darts and ’68 Super Stock Hemi A-bodies) was built with bucket seats. All the respective classes required the factory seats to be in place.

        “OK, we’re going to acid-dip this, use fiberglass that, get lightweight glass, and omit the RH wiper, all the sound deadening, the heater and the radio. We can use a seat belt for a window regulator.”
        “So should we use those heavy bucket seats?”

      • Steve R

        It’s because the bench seat was cheaper. Cars that were bought for racing were not going to remain stock, the money saved by skipping convenience options could be used for performance parts, that far outweighed the performance gained by saving 20lbs. Too much emphasis is put on weight savings, it only really matters once performance is optimized, it’s best to start out by going after low hanging fruit (bang for the buck), tuning, exhaust and traction.

        Steve R

        Like 1
  4. Tom Parker

    Only place to go with this car is to a money pit. You’re upside down from the minute you purchase this disaster. $25,000 is delusional.

    Like 9
  5. George Louis

    Would be hard-pressed to even cough up $2500.00 for this ride.

    Like 1
  6. Eichard Fasano

    More like 5K. Question is whyva car from Cali would be in such a dismal shape and why not clean the body and steam clean the motor

  7. tex cloud

    maybe my eyes are bad not sure just never saw a 383 wiyh dist in rear. also looks like a Ball & Ball two barrel what you think?

    Like 1
  8. Valentine

    Only 412 were built with the 383HP engine. This is NOT one of them, as evidenced by the factory 2V carburetor still in place. This car doesn’t have a single performance option on it; even the axle center section is the weak-sister 741 case. The factory paint appears to be W1 white and the sissymatic is on the column. All the collectibility of gym socks.

    Do what you want with this one, because there’s nothing to love about it originally. That $25K line will be in the water for a long, long time.

  9. Joseph Borgelt

    $25,000! this guy must be crazy if he thinks he’ll get that much out of it. my dad has a coronet that’s in waaay better shape than that and he would only sell it for 12,000 as it sits for 16 years.

    • George Louis

      What year is the Cronet and what model?

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