When local Mopar enthusiast Keith Davis saw this '71 Charger in an impound and scrapyard,
Do you remember the first Charger 500? This slick, aerodynamic model with a flush grille and rear window, matched with Hemi or big-block power under the hood, was intended to give Dodge an advantage at the stock car tracks, and led to the eventual development of the winged cars that made NASCAR history. After that first year, however, something happened to the Charger 500 model. No longer indicative of a performance car, the 500 merely designated a trim package for the Charger, which usually included bucket seats and a rallye gauge cluster, but rarely included a real performance engine. Basically, it was for the driver who wanted the appearance of a sporty model, but not necessarily the performance.
Well, the appearance of this Charger is just what caught the eye of local Mopar enthusiast Keith Davis at an impound lot in Lakeland, Florida. While searching the towing company's scrapyard for parts, Keith noticed this Charger parked next to a building and thought it looked different from the '71 Chargers he'd seen before. The grille didn't have hidden headlights, and the taillights appeared to be from an R/T. Closer inspection revealed this Charger not to be an R/T model, but rather the less desirable, though nearly as rare, Charger 500. When Keith asked about the car, he was told it had been there for years after being abandoned and towed to the impound lot. The owner of the lot never sold or crushed it because he liked the car and thought it should be kept. Keith asked if it was for sale and was told yes, for a non-negotiable $1,200. Knowing the car was solid and would make a good project, Keith quickly closed the deal and transported the car home.
After closely inspecting his rare find, Keith discovered the car was in very reasonable shape for its age. Overall, the car is solid with a few dents and dings, and only minor rust damage under the vinyl top. Other than a missing radiator, the car is complete and original, making it an ideal starting point for restoration or restification, depending on what he decides to do with it. Though not optioned with power windows or seats, the Charger is nicely appointed with power steering, air-conditioning, an am/fm radio, and power disc brakes.
Although coming with a 318 engine from the factory prevents this car from being classified as a true musclecar, this Charger is a great foundation to build from. Let's face it, the chances of finding a real '71 R/T Charger are pretty slim, so Keith looks at this car as the next best thing. The taillights and grille are the same that would have come in an R/T. Also, the interior is equipped with bucket seats, a console-shifted automatic, and rallye instrumentation just like an R/T. Factory front disc brakes are also the same as would have been found on performance models. Since a big-block swap is fairly simple in a Charger, Keith thinks this car will make a great R/T clone or, equally as interesting, a 440-equipped Charger 500. Either way, he's already starting way ahead of most simply by finding a Charger 500 with its desirable options.
As fewer true musclecars are available to find and build, we think cars like this Charger 500 are the way of the future, giving the average enthusiast something he or she can work with on a budget. We look forward to seeing Keith build his car into something he can drive and enjoy, and congratulate him on his rare find.
Have you located and purchased a Mopar? Did you find what you feel to be a Rare Find? Well, you need to let us know about it. So send in your Rare Finds to Mopar Muscle, Rare Finds, 9036 Brittany way, Tampa, FL 33619. you can also send them to email@example.com.
Most Charger 500s, including this one, came with factory bucket seats and a console.
Like most Charger 500s, this one came with a 318 engine. Keith's plans include a possible
Though not an R/T, the Charger 500 had many of the same trim and appearance items, includi