1971 Dodge Challenger

Dodge introduced the Challenger in 1970 as a high-performance muscle car to rival GM’s Camaro and Firebird and Ford’s Mustang. It featured a lower “coke bottle” profile and unique styling elements that gave it a distinct lithe appearance. Customers could personalize their Challengers with a wide range of exterior colors and striping, along with a choice of engine options.

Carl Cameron, who had also designed the Charger prototype that influenced the Challenger’s design, based the Challenger on a two-door coupe with a removable roof. Production numbers were relatively high for the first year, but it would be a few years before Dodge made significant changes to the model.

The 1971 Dodge Challenger front end is unique compared to most other models. It features the eggcrate grille of the T/A model, which was created as a homologation special for SCCA Trans-Am racing. The T/A front clip isn’t a factory option on any other Challenger, making this particular vehicle a true standout.

Another rare feature found on this Challenger is the Shakedown stripes that run down the sides of the car. The red 392 decals on the front fenders and Shakedown sticker on the rear spoiler complete the look. The Challenger’s paint is finished in a dark shade called Plum Crazy and is accented by black wheels and bumpers, with red six-piston Brembo brake calipers caressing sizeable rotors (13.82-inches/front and 13.8-inches/rear).

A few significant changes were introduced for the 1971 Challenger. Chrysler dropped the T/A and upscale SE series, while EPA emissions standards led to a reduction in available engine choices. The 225 slant-6 and 318 CID V8 were retained, but the R/T’s 340-cubic-inch Magnum was down to 300 horsepower due to a change in compression ratio.

In addition to the aforementioned changes, the Challenger was offered with several other options including an AM radio, power steering, air conditioning, and leather and vinyl bucket seats. Depending on the trim package, the Challenger could be equipped with a three-speed manual or TorqueFlite automatic transmission, 7.35-x-15 tubeless black sidewall tires, and either a vinyl or fixed rear window.

By the time the Challenger reached its second year of production, it was already beginning to show its age. Sales began to wane, and the Challenger was soon pushed out of the muscle-car arena by newer competitors like the Pontiac GTO and Chevy Camaro. Chrysler would drop the 440 and 426 HEMI engines, along with the convertible option, by 1972.