1971 Dodge Challenger R/T Found in a Backyard Comes With Two Engines, Quirky Features

Introduced for the 1970 model year, the Dodge Challenger was the last Mopar to join the muscle car segment. And needless to say, it arrived a bit late to the party because Chrysler discontinued its high-compression, big-block V8 engines in 1971. But that didn't stop it from becoming one of the most iconic rigs from the golden era.
1971 Dodge Challenger R/T 13 photos
Photo: Auto Archaeology/YouTube
1971 Dodge Challenger R/T1971 Dodge Challenger R/T1971 Dodge Challenger R/T1971 Dodge Challenger R/T1971 Dodge Challenger R/T1971 Dodge Challenger R/T1971 Dodge Challenger R/T1971 Dodge Challenger R/T1971 Dodge Challenger R/T1971 Dodge Challenger R/T1971 Dodge Challenger R/T1971 Dodge Challenger R/T
Built on the same E-body platform as the third-generation Plymouth Barracuda, the Challenger was available with a mild inline-six in base trim. But Dodge also offered a wide selection of V8 powerplants, including five big-block options. The R/T was obviously the most interesting of the bunch performance-wise.

The R/T came standard with a four-barrel 383-cubic-inch (6.3-liter) Magnum rated 330 horsepower. The options list also included a pair of 440-cubic-inch (7.2-liter) RB units. The four-barrel delivered 375 horses, while the Six-Pack came with 390 horsepower on tap. Finally, the 426-cubic-inch (7.0-liter) HEMI topped the range with 425 horses.

The Challenger was quite popular in its first year in showrooms, moving 76,935 units. That changed rather dramatically in 1971 when sales dropped to 27,377 examples. The R/T engine lineup also changed that year.

While the Mopar was still available with the 383, 440, and 426 big-block units, the four-barrel version of the RB was discontinued. Additionally, Dodge introduced a 340-cubic-inch (5.6-liter) small-block. The least powerful of the bunch, the 340 was actually an option and not the standard mill. Dodge added it to the list in response to customers who wanted better gas mileage and lower insurance rates in the R/T.

Dodge sold 1,078 340-equipped R/T cars in 1971, which accounts for nearly 4% of the total production. While not as rare as the 440 and 426 R/T models, the 340 is a scarce classic. But because this engine isn't particularly desirable, many of these Challengers are still struggling in junkyards and backyards. The Citron Yella example you see here is one of them.

Documented by YouTubee's "Auto Archaeology," this Mopar is the perfect example of how a classic car can become a rust bucket when stored improperly. The history of this Challenger is a bit foggy, but our host says it's been parked in a backyard since 2006. The R/T was still running at the time, but it's in poor condition now.

Kept under a tarp, the Challenger was somewhat safe from the elements, but the moisture eventually got to it and the body displays significant rust issues. There's rot on the lower body panels and the hood, while the trunk floor is falling apart. It also needs new frame rails to become road-worthy again.

It's still a solid candidate for restoration, though. The car is still complete, and it's also pretty rare. The 340 V8 and automatic combo found its way into only 731 R/Ts. And only a tiny fraction of these vehicles were ordered in GY3 Citron Yella, a one-year-only High-Impact color.

The Challenger also has a few quirky features, starting with the 1970-model-year rear spoiler. What's it doing on a 1971 car, you ask? Well, this R/T is an early 1971 version, and our host speculates the spoiler is a left-over component. The R/T also packs the rare aluminum rear-window louvers. There's also a velour interior. Granted, this isn't a factory feature, but whoever added it did a tremendous job keeping the seat layout in place.

Finally, this Challenger is a numbers-matching car. The 340 V8 under the hood is not the original mill, but the owner still had the correct unit in storage. The correct automatic gearbox is still in the car.

There's no info on whether this 1971 Challenger R/T will get a proper restoration, but it will be nice to see it back on the road and reunited with its original V8. Until that happens, see it sitting in a shop in the video below.

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About the author: Ciprian Florea
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Ask Ciprian about cars and he'll reveal an obsession with classics and an annoyance with modern design cues. Read his articles and you'll understand why his ideal SUV is the 1969 Chevrolet K5 Blazer.
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