Tuesday, April 6, 2010

San Jose Street Sighting - 1971 Dodge Challenger R/T

Chrysler has always had a strange reputation for arriving late to the party, making few friends, and often leaving early. In the case of the Dodge Challenger and its corporate twin, the Plymouth Barracuda, this statement could be called somewhat ironic. The Barracuda, as an entry in the ponycar wars, actually predated the Mustang by a short span of time. But where the Barracuda was a warmed-over Valiant that came standard with an anemic slant six, the Mustang had style and substance going for it and was wildly popular. The Barracuda grew up, of course, and by 1970 had become a force to be reckoned with in the muscle car wars. Also in 1970, the Barracuda gained a stablemate, the Challenger. These cars could be had in potent forms, with large-capacity V8s and even the famous Hemi. The original Challenger was only around until 1974, although it would come back twice. The first reintroduction came in 1978, when the Dodge variant of the Mitsubishi-based Plymouth Sapporo was named Challenger. In 2008, a new retro-styled Challenger was introduced on the 300 platform. And yes, it was available with a Hemi.

This car is a 1971 Challenger R/T 440. It is pretty nicely equipped with the optional 440 cubic inch Magnum V8 engine producing 375 horsepower (not as powerful as the 426 Hemi but certainly easier to drive smoothly). This was the last year the 440 Magnum was available. This example doesn't appear to have the 440 Six-Pack (three 2-barrel carburetors), and while it sports an optional vinyl roof covering, it doesn't appear to have the SE luxury package. I can't speak for the transmission specifications or any other equipped options. It once wore a (1970 only) Challenger T/A style ducktail spoiler on the trunk and currently has a pair of aftermarket orange foglights on the front bumper and a set of slotted mag wheels that are straight from the '80s. Color appears to be the original B2 Light Blue Metallic.
Performance editions of 1971 Challengers are considered to be the most rare of all Challengers, making this unrestored one, one of fewer than 4,000 '71 R/T hardtops made, quite a find.

1 comment:

  1. My old man took me to see Vanishing Point in the early 70's never wanted to own any other US muscle car as much as a white Challenger !