Anything from 1971 with a Hemi under the hood is rare. Tim Wellborn is well aware of that, especially with the Charger line. Tim currently owns 14 Hemi Chargers and a whole host of other Chargers. He reveres the seven-page article that appeared in the December 1970 issue of Motor Trend, "The Chargers Of The Dodge Brigade." After reading the article, his father went and ordered a brand-new '71 R/T.
Tim tells us, "[In the ad], they had these Chargers coming at you arranged in a flying V. They had a car in the center, then off to the left three more Chargers, and off to the right three more, staggered back like a V. And the dust was boiling up. The air grabber scoops on the hoods were open. It was just a huge article. They were really bragging about the Charger, and how good it was."
Tim is a member of what he calls the Lost Generation of Mopar Muscle people. He was too young to buy a Hemi car in the good old days. When he came of driving age, the nightmarish '70s were upon us, and the great musclecars were gone.
Resourceful people do what they gotta do, and Tim, who is from Alexander City, Alabama, located this '71 Charger fifteen years ago in Indianapolis. Even then, the story seemed too good to be true. This particular car was a Hemi car, and it also had Super Bee badging. The mileage was low, and the body was rust-free. the '71 was a one-owner, original paint survivor.
As is so often the case, the owner would not sell. So Tim left his phone number in case the guy changed his mind. Standard operating procedure is to always leave your name and phone number. Tim goes a step further in his car chases.
He said, "I always leave a phone number in the form of my business card. I always put it on the dash of the car. if you just hand it to them, they will lay it by the telephone or somewhere and lose it. So even if they try to find you, they can't. But they remember I put my phone number on the dash. and that's how it works for me."
Tim never gave up on the car. he couldn't forget the red, striped, '71 Hemi Charger/Super Bee with 21,000 miles. Tim explained, "They only made 22 Super Bees. They made 63 R/Ts and 22 Super Bees, a total of 85 cars in the Charger lineup with the 426 Hemi."
Fifteen years pass, and the guy calls Tim and wants to sell him the car. Tim got the history of how Marvin Kline, the owner, bought this car while he was a mechanic for Palmer Dodge in Indianapolis. Apparently, he was able to buy the car only after it sat out behind the dealership for a year or two. Mr. Palmer had parked the car there after he was involved in a wreck.
The wreck occurred at the '71 Indy 500. Dodge had pace car honors and used a Challenger convertible. Eldon Palmer was at the wheel pacing a yellow flag lap. His passengers were astronaut John Glenn, sportscaster Chris Schenkel, and track owner Tony Hulman. While exiting the track onto pit row, Palmer slammed on his brakes to avoid going back onto the track. The Challenger skidded into a track patrolman and the press stand. Nineteen people were injured.
It's a stretch to complicate this '71 Charger in that unfortunate incident. Tim explained, "It was being displayed by Palmer Dodge at the track during the race. After the accident, Mr. palmer got in the '71 Charger and drove it back to the dealership and parked it out back."
Tim is the second owner. The Super Bee is so original and well preserved, it is a Survivor. The car is currently at Roger Gibson Restoration in Scott City, Missouri, where it's receiving some minor detailing.