Members Cars (Archive)

1971 Dodge Challenger
Steve Whelan
Last Updated: 25/05/2018

Buying this car seemed at first a "semi-mistake" – I already had a 73 Challenger but I could see a fair bit of work before I would finally be able to get to drive it. So I was on the look out for a reasonably priced E or B body US car that was in a driving condition that needed minimal work and I could register and drive and enjoy, while doing up my 73. The plan was then to sell this "temporary" driver pretty much as I bought it. Well as usual, plans don’t go like you expect and I was a mite hasty in buying this 71, as the car I was really waiting for turned up 2 weeks later- a mostly restored 73 Cuda 340 on the net for $22,000- and just down the road from me! Anyway, the 71 Challenger you see was bought sight unseen from Adelaide from out of Just Cars Magazine. From the few pictures I was sent it looked great. Unfortunately the seller (a Chev man) was not totally honest in a few areas and when the car arrived I was a little disappointed. However I soon realized that it was a very honest car. Almost every original nut, bolt, clip and trim was there and the car had not been butchered at all. The car was a High Price code 318 slapstick auto with the only addition being a very welcome Rallye hood. The engine was a factory replacement 318 from 1985 and the interior had been redone in a lovely shade of… green! The poor little diff was not the 8 ¾ unit like I was told and is a BorgW with a very tall 2.72 gearing!

Other nice options it had was aircon, power steer, remote Rallye mirror, wheel arch trim, twin horns (they are LOUD) and slapstick auto. Many people have heard of the slapstick option but until now I didn’t know exactly what it meant. It was an option on the 904 and 727, even on the slant six, and meant to appeal to the boy racers of the era. You could manually shift into the next gear simply by giving the back of the stick a "slap"- and it works great. Just shows how performance orientated the Americans were in those days.

So I decided I would make this my project car and sell the 73. The interior is getting changed to black and I have a new 440 Brodix head engine and Tremec 5speed to go in and I have bought a 8.75 Positrac for the rear. 1971 was not a big seller and only 1/3 the number of those made in 1970, so they are now quite rare. This car is going to be an RT clone- the rear wing and stripes are waiting, as are the dual cutout rear valance and exhaust extensions.

Not sure if I want to recolour the new tan vinyl roof black (if that is possible) or get rid of it entirely.

At the moment, all energy is focused on getting the car registered so I can drive it. I still have not finalised the colour as this olive green is not my cup of tea. I am now leaning towards a dark gunmetal grey or electric blue or dark blue.

As you can see by the pics, it is very straight- the only few small dings being in almost exact positions in each front fender, left and right! The trunk floor was gone as usual for E bodies and I have now fully cut that out and waiting on a nice person with a MIG to weld in the new trunk floors which are easily obtainable at a reasonable price. The only other rust is a little bit on each lower rear quarter.

Other interesting goodies I have for the car are an 8k Rallye dash, a reskinned crashpad- not cheap as they are a huge dash but a great job from a guy in Collie, a rebuilt "firmFeel" steering box which gives a much better feel than the standard overpowered Chrysler box, 1" HD torsion bars and 1.125" front sway bar kit, and Koni shocks. I have a factory rear sway bar to put on- I want this baby to be a nice handling car.

All under body has been cleaned, primed and painted, some electrical probs sorted and front end halfway through getting ready for rego. I have slotted a mild hydraulic cam in place of the tired smog cam but havn’t driven it to see how it worked out yet.

Now I have gotten to know the beast, I am liking it a lot more than when it first arrived. All for now.

Note: Larger pictures can been seen by clicking on the thumbnails