1971 Dodge Hemi Challenger R/T
Editor’s Note: Do you remember when Hemi powered Mopar machines commanded big money in all the collectible car auctions and private sales? It wasn’t so very long ago. Here’s a spectacular 1971 Dodge Hemi Challenger R/T with all the right stuff – original black paint, 426 ci OHV Hemi V-8 mill, four-speed manual trans with pistol grip shifter and dog bowl ‘sleeper’ hubcaps. And it didn’t sell at the RM Auctions’ Arizona event, held on January 18, 2013. Some Mopar aficionado missed out on a great car. RM Auctions, thank you for the wonderful story and photos.
Photo Credit: Erik Fuller ©2012 Courtesy of RM Auctions
1971 Dodge Hemi Challenger R/T
High Bid of $200,000
Chassis no. JS23R1B242313
425 hp, 426 cu. in. OHV Hemi V-8 engine, four-speed manual transmission, torsion bar front suspension, semi-elliptic leaf springs and live axle rear suspension, and four-wheel heavy duty drum brakes. Wheelbase: 110 in.
• Original engine example with known ownership history
• One of only 70 built in 1971; only 49 known to exist today
• The only example known to wear its original black factory finish
The Chrysler E-bodies (the Dodge Challenger and the Plymouth Barracuda) might have been the last to enter Detroit’s pony car game. Though critics argue that the best were saved for last with these cars, making their introduction more than five years after the first Mustang was released. Using a formula similar to Ford and Chevrolet, the Challenger was based on a stretched, compact Dart platform, making the car an immediate sales success. The White Hat Boys at Dodge positioned the car as part of the “Scat Pack,” emblazoning the cars with bumblebee stripes and offering them with a full array of options and nearly any engine Chrysler built, including the fearsome Hemi, as found in this car.
The Challenger, new for 1970, received only minor changes for 1971. A Challenger convertible was chosen to pace the Indianapolis 500. It was the last time Dodge built a factory convertible, until the mid-1980s. Gone, too, was the famous Hemi after 1971. R/T models included high back bucket seats, heavy duty brakes, an R/T handling package, and G70x14 raised white letter tires. With a base price of $3,273, the Hemi option added a staggering $892 to the bottom line, ultimately leading to low production numbers and making them quite desirable to today’s collectors.
Amazingly, this Hemi Challenger has traveled just 64,000 miles from new. While it is one of just six surviving examples with black exterior paint, it is the sole example known that still wears its original factory finish, putting it into a category of its own. Dodge built 70 Hemi Challengers for 1971, including 58 four-speeds; according to Mopar expert Galen Govier, it is one of 49 known to exist today. Govier’s 33-page report is available for inspection and is included with the sale of this Challenger.
This rare Hemi-equipped Dodge Challenger is equipped with its original numbers-matching drivetrain, including the engine, transmission, and rear end. It is equipped with the A-34 Trak-Pak option, which includes a 3.54:1 Sure-Grip limited slip differential and a Dana 60 8¾-inch rear axle. It maintains is original interior, glass, seats, headliner, and carpeting. The engine was rebuilt in 2003, along with a service to the brakes, suspension, fuel system, and exhaust.
The car was purchased in 1971 by the owner of a speed shop in Joplin, Missouri, who used it as his personal driver and kept it on display in front of the shop to help attract business. The entire ownership trail is known, but of particular interest is Susan Willey, of Ohio, who purchased the Dodge in 1979. Interestingly, Willey raced the car at local race tracks and worked on the car herself; she maintained the car until selling it in 1993. In its current ownership, the Hemi Challenger has been stored in climate-friendly Arizona and has been well looked after. Value trends for collector cars are ever-trending in favor of examples with the best provenance and originality, as they have for generations with other fine art segments. With this example having known history, solid originality, and being triple black from the factory with a four-speed manual transmission, combined with the unending interest in the vaunted Hemi-powered Mopar muscle, this is one highly desirable collector car.