The code N96 probably won't mean much to guys who are into '65 Belvederes, Power Wagons, or late-model rides, but those three characters on a fender tag are important when looking at 1970 and 1971 E-Bodies. They denote one of the most infamous options of that time period, the Shaker fresh-air scoop.
"Yeah, as soon as I saw this car, the first thing I checked was the fender tag—it was an N96 car," Tim Winnie laughs. A resident of Jeannette, Pennsylvania, he was on vacation in Florida, and happened to pass by a car show being held at an Applebee's restaurant. Among the sea of late-model Fords and early Chevy iron was this singular Mopar, a Plum Crazy '71 Challenger with a body stripe and the aforementioned option. While N.A. on the option list means not available, if you ordered these special parts on a non-R/T model in 1971, you were in some pretty exclusive company.
Remove the tach from the column, and it’s 1971 all over again.
At $94 when ordered with an R/T, Shakers were a fairly expensive option on the performance models (only four-barrel/Six Pack/Hemi engines could get a Shaker). If you wanted that N96 on a 340 in the standard coupe line (not an R/T model), it was an extra $114.20. Likewise, that non-R/T E55 340 cost an additional $252.50 in a standard model, but was only $44.35 with the R/T model when it replaced the standard 383 Magnum. So why would you not just get an R/T instead? We would hazard a guess that it didn't give your insurance man the red flag that you were a miscreant. With fewer than 350 cubes, the underwriters were none the wiser unless they came out and actually put an eyeball on it.
The car's owner introduced himself to Tim and his wife Eileen, who were actually on their way home from a day at the beach. After talking for a little while, the man admitted that his wife might be losing her job and that he had been thinking about selling the car. The price was more than Tim could afford at that point, but he wrote down the VIN and fender tag info and the two exchanged phone numbers in case anything could be worked out. A week later, he took the numbers to the Mopar Nationals and began to get a better picture of just how unique this car was.
The 340 four-barrel had not been part of the 1970 R/T line, so it and the 383 four-barrel were the only crossover performance engines between the standard coupe and the R/T model in 1971. Coded JH on the VIN, just 72 coupes had been optioned with the Shaker that year, with 34 being 340s, according to Travis Mai, who runs an N96 Challenger registry. Also, due to the potential of the hood going through the windshield instead of folding up, the Shaker on the Challenger had been cancelled for a good part of the 1970 model run until crush zones could be engineered to the under-support structure. This had not been a problem with the 'Cuda, due to the way the hood and cowl came together. So while the experts were free with their knowledge, what everyone most wanted to know was just where this car was, not only for the N96, but the A45 spoilers, tape stripe, and Rallye wheels made it very impressive.
Tim got home from Columbus, and Eileen told him the man from Florida had called while he was gone. His wife had indeed lost her job and he was definitely going to sell it. Tim told the gentleman what he could afford to pay, and the man told him at the time, that was not enough but he would call him back. The next day, he called back and said he knew he could get more money for it but he also knew that Tim was the person he could trust to take care of his Challenger. That finalized, Tim rounded up the Franklins, hitched the trailer to his pickup, and drove back to the Sunshine State.
"He had all the original parts, but since what the owner had wanted was a hot rod, the car had been rebuilt for that," says Tim now. "For instance, he had a locker rear in it, which banged when you went around corners. I changed some of that back, but when my engine guy got into the motor, he told me there were enough quality performance parts in it that I shouldn't rebuild it entirely. We just changed out the cam to a Purple Shaft for the street."
During the past five years, Tim has done a few other things to make the car his own. Rather than doing a complete nut-and-bolt restoration, he has kept a few upgrades with its status being a fun ride instead of being relegated to the trailer like many valuable E-Bodies.
GTS Services' Galen Govier shed a little more light on it for Tim as well. This car was a very late build—June 10, 1971, and Galen is pretty certain it is the last 340 N96 package built. Production ceased seven days later when a strike started, and there may be one N96-optioned car, a 440 Six Pack, built after this one. It does not have electronic ignition, and like several other June-built Challys, received a 1972 rear bumper on it. Tim was offered a new hood and $5,000 for the hood alone, which is the rare, correct production version from those last couple of months.
"No deal," he says. "The money doesn't matter. I want to keep this car complete."
1971 Dodge Challenger
Car Owner: Tim Winnie, Jeannette, PA
Talk about rare. Finding a 1971 Challenger 340 with a Shaker is not something you see ever
Engine: The engine is a late-1971 model year 340, unique in that it appears to have some stuff from earlier production times, as the factory got ready for the defanged 1972 model. The previous owner had built a semi-serious drag package around it, and when the late Frank Fiume of Valley Auto in Wilmerding, Pennsylvania, took it part way down, he told Tim it would be best to the leave the bottom end alone. He put a Mopar Purple Shaft cam in it, got it street ready, and kept the Heddman ceramic headers, Edelbrock intake, and Demon carburetor intact. When purchased, Tim did get all the original parts to bring it back to stock, but those may stay in the garage until somebody else owns it.
Transmission: A 727 TorqueFlite with street converter and factory Slap Stick shifter
Differential: Factory 8¾ design; factory code 3.55 Sure Grip replaced the spooled 4.11s from the previous build
Horsepower and Performance: On the street, a slightly-nasty idle and whiplash to onlookers
Suspension: Still makes use of most of the factory components
Brakes: Factory heavy-duty drum package
Wheels: Rallye 15x7s shod in Goodyear Eagle radial tires
Body: The body was done when Tim got the car, and is original. Exterior options of N96 Shaker, A45 front and rear wings, and Rallye wheels were all part of its original construction in June 1971. At least five other '71 Challengers got the 1972 bumper when constructed.
Paint: Correct Plum Crazy Hi-Impact paint and white body stripes without the R/T logo; the car was repainted sometime in the past, and was nice enough Tim just keeps it clean.
Interior: White, basically stock, Autometer tach and aftermarket radio by JVC
Special Thanks: Gary Klotz, Ray and Dom Pivirotto, and Steve Shuber