Dodge Chargers are hot commodities on today's marketplace. While the '68-'70 versions are probably the most popular overall, the restyling of 1971 was more than just skin deep. Options, graphics, and various add-ons made many of them unique cars individually. Those days, the big-inch R/T and Super Bee models offered Hemi and Six Pack power to the masses. Though one was upscale and the other a basic street stripper, they seem to get all of the attention now.
Lost in the shuffle is the fact that the 383, though down on compression in some forms by 1971, was a nice option in the standard B-Body. Without adding the R/T trim or the Super Bee attitude, a buyer could build a complete package around the base Charger by selecting the N code High Performance, four-barrel engine. Moreover, the ordered car could be further sweetened by adding options galore. While the car you see here is slightly modified with a few non-optional trim pieces, it truly is a one-of-one Mopar.
When we saw it in a row of very nice third-gen Chargers, what made it interesting was that it was a car that many of us would probably enjoy without the price tag that more visible Charger packages seem to require these days. Brent Ball, who lives in Harrowsmith, Ontario, and makes his living in electronic-technology troubleshooting, and running his all-Mopar Mr. Heaterbox and Interior Restoration business, did most of the restoration you see here. He owns a couple of other Mopars, but jumped on the chance to own this one.
"The car was out in the Las Vegas desert for a lot of years," he says. "We verified it was one-of-one-Sassy Grass Green, 383, and the options-and it was numbers matching. How could I not buy it?"
Inside is basically as the...
Inside is basically as the factory sent it.
Unlike the cars found in the snow-belt near his home, this one didn't need any heavy bodywork, though the interior needed to be replaced after baking in the sun. The decision was made to do a complete stock rebuild though, as we mentioned, Brent chose to add a few goodies. One that he did not add was that rare rear-deck mounted luggage rack. That piece was ordered new on the car, and the years were kind to the chrome; it has not been touched except to clean it up and reinstall it after paint.
What was added was the Super Bee-style non-functional hood with air box, a set of new bucket seat skins, and the performance machine gun exhaust tips. But the painted Rallye mirrors, Tuff steering wheel, and AM/FM radio with rear speakers were factory ordered! The idea was to make it a car that could be driven for fun, and everything that has been modified could be taken back to bone stock, though we would agree that nothing needs changing from the way the car sits today.
In its last days, the 383...
In its last days, the 383 was decompressed and then replaced by the 400. Brent's 383 features an AVS carburetor which is correct for California-Emissions equipped cars.
If you are looking for a hot setup under the hood, you would see what the first buyer ended up with back in the day; this 383 was rebuilt to original specs and did not require any major fixes other than the normal clean-up done during disassembly. The 383 had seen a lot of hard use from its original owner and the number four piston had a meltdown, but overall, it was perfectly savable and rebuildable to stone stock specs. A/C was a must in Nevada, but it also helps during the summer show season wherever you are. A fresh Carter version of the AVS carb was selected as well, because this Los Angeles built Charger has California Emissions; the other N code engines came with a small Holley that year. Behind the engine is a 727 TorqueFlite, while a 3.23 open-end rear makes it easy to crank off the miles while not stopping to get gas every 200 miles (it's a 20-gallon tank).
Of course, what is most appealing is the scarce green paint, which was reapplied by Bruce Pardo using Sikkens Green Go FJ6 replacement (Green Go was Dodge's real name for the option; Plymouth was offered in Sassy Grass, though that name has stuck to all FJ6-hued cars). Coupled with the white top, white interior, and white longitudinal stripe, it is a combination that really works on what could be termed as an extreme color.
The Mopar restylings of 1971 were the beginning of the last hurrah of the muscle car era designs, and Brent ended up with a visible all-around package that highlights what the Charger was all about-classic style and horsepower. It took first place for the stock B-Body machines at the 2007 Carlisle All-Chrysler Nationals. Even if it wasn't an R/T . . .
'71 Dodge Charger 383
Car Owner: Brent Ball, Harrowsmith, Ontario
- Engine: The 383 was considered by some as a pedestrian motor in Chrysler's lineup in 1971, soon to be replaced by the 400. Originally rated at 335 horses, a drop in compression for '71 brought that down to a flat 300. The Carter AVS was used for California emissions vehicles; a Holley would have been used in the other 49 states. The rest of it is just like Ma Mopar built in 1971.
- Transmission: The 727 TorqueFlite, now actuated by a factory Slap-Stik.
- Differential: An 8 3/4 unit was the standard in Charger; this one is built for cruising.
- Horsepower and Performance: The compression drop and a change from net to brake horsepower means the paper rating is 300 ponies; a tight gear (4.10 or up) and good shifting was always a help with the larger '71-up B-Bodies.
- Suspension: Stock, even the OEM shocking was retained.
- Brakes: Power drums.
- Wheel: s15-inch factory Rallye wheels
- Rubber: Goodyear F60-15 Polyglas
- Body: Fuselage-type '71 Charger; last of the hot designs to leave Detroit in the mid-size body range.
- Paint: FJ6 Go Green, replicated by Bruce Pardo using Sikkens paint.
- Interior: Retrofit upgrades like Rallye dash and fresh buckets. We'd do it, too . . .
- Best Performance: Street corner Gran Prix, and possibly outrunning the Vegas mob!