BOB M 1971 Dodge Challenger 2dr Hardtop Coupe

Discovering / restoring a 1of1 1971 Dodge Challenger R/T

In 1990 I asked a friend to line up some "investment" grade cars to look over for a restoration project.... the goal was to bring back to life a great Mopar. He introduced me to 5 cars saving his favorite for last.. a 1971 Challenger RT. It was a car someone bought to him to cut up the rear to put racing slicks on and make this a serious drag contender. It was in Rustoleum Red Primer. My friend was a numbers guy and read out the vin/dash numbers and then the fender tag. It was born a special order white car with black vinyl top and was a true RT. It was ordered with the 340 hi-po and auto 727 tranny. Upon opening the drivers door he found the remnants of the 2 stripes... but wait - these tape stripes were white.... Reading the fender tag again it was true - a white car ordered with white stripes... it was never heard of in the Mopar Community. I decided that was the car to do and we set out looking for all the history we could find. The car was done by Jack's Garage in Mt. Vernon Ohio as he does top quality rods and restorations. We did every nut and bold on this car to museum quality... meanwhile I searched for previous owners. Ran into a lot of great stories from previous owners but ran into a dead end in Kentucky as the records did not help me find the first 2 owners. There was lots of speculation on the white car with white stripes. There were a few (darn few) black cudas and challengers with black stripes... but never any record of white on white. The Walter P Chrysler Museum officials I spoke with had never heard of it on any model.

In 1971 there was no badging on the Challenger to signify Road and Track (R/T) except the stripe. If you can't see the badge - it's just a Challenger, and in white with a vinyl top - even with ralleye wheels, it's probably a good mark for a race. The 340 hi-po was a butt kickin' motor but it was mated with a 727 tree shift.... again something to throw off another racer?

I did finally get a break and get it traced back to the original owner... the car was ordered then not picked up as the person found another returned car that met his needs. On the dealership floor - the 18 year old n0eice of the dealers book keeper walked in and fell in love with the car. I just asked my aunt how much it would cost a week for me to buy it. She still remembered the amount 40 some years later! "I loved driving it except guys would always pull up next to me to try to get me to race... one day at the gas station the attendant asked if I wanted some air in my shocks?.... I didn't even know it had air shocks". "When it started overheating I sold it to my cousin who put huge tires on the rear tore up the streets of Lexington KY. He put 440's in it then blew them up always returning the 340 when he did... I guess that's the only reason it survived.

The car got a centerfold article in Mopar Collector's Guide Magazine and lots of talk. It was fun to be involved in all facets of the restoration except writing those checks... and there were way too many of those. A great life experience. The car now sits on the show room floor of Goetzman Dodge in Mt. Vernon Ohio along side a 2015 Challenger (styling for 2015 was fashioned from the 1971)! It's a beautiful sight.

1 Reader Comment

  • 1
    steve mauldin ft wayne, in October 25, 2014 at 08:55
    what a great car and story. one of the best!

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