In a lot of ways, the beginning of the 1970s were like an extension of the 1960s. The psychedelic music, wild clothing, and a sense of general craziness fueled by drugs, free love, and rebellion peaked during the early years of the decade. For car enthusiasts in 1971, option lists grew like sideburns, and while it may have been a last hurrah for the true supercar, the kaleidoscope of color and trim options left a permanent "flashback" on the performance era.
Mike Bonsanti, of Mahwah, New Jersey, owns the 1971 Charger R/T seen here. This machine was built in January of that twilight year, and features those styling and driveline options that have set '71 apart from others. Until 1971, the Charger had never gotten a fresh-air hood package; the Ramcharger trap-door "air grabber" was now available, as were two other hood treatments, the non-functional air box and the reverse-facing louvered trim inserts seen here on Mike's Car. Because the Super Bee became part of the Charger line that year, there were a number of stripe packages as well. However, Mike's interest in this example was raised when the two kids who found the car told him it had "plastic bumpers." Elastomeric bumpers (code A54) were offered only two years, and dispelled any resistance he might have had to adding it to his stable of great Mopar iron.
Though still solid overall, the car did need some TLC. Mike, who owns Auto Medic in Morristown, New Jersey, began the process of a restification, leaving the car perfectly stock in outward appearance but fortifying the internals. The original 440 Magnum engine came out and was machine-prepped by Olsen Engines in Nyack, New York. Into this block went a nitride-hardened crank, .030-over 11.5:1 KB pistons, and Eagle rods, rounded out by a complete blueprint and balance job. In addition to assembly, Mike ported the 906 heads and intake himself, slipping a Mopar Performance .509 lift/292 duration cam into the short-block for good measure. The Pistol Grip-stirred four-speed and 3.54 SureGrip Dana were also rebuilt by Mike. Coupled with the Rallye wheels supporting Goodyear Polyglas GT G60/15 tires, the driveline was ready to rock.
Outside, the car got a fresh coat of B5 Blue paint by Chuck Pierce Restorations in New Hampshire, supplemented by the R/T hood and side stripes that make it stand out from the crowd. The color-code racing mirrors, black vinyl top, and tinted windows were also selected from the option list when the car was new, and were brought back to concours quality. Inside, the white interior was refurbished with parts by Legendary, and remains bone stock, complete with the Rallye dash, center console, and optional interior-light group. Since new, the odometer has turned just over 63,000 miles.
When it arrived at Tally's Dodge in Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey, in the early spring of '71, the car had a sticker price of over $4700, which was not considered pocket change. Today, the final work of art still speaks for itself. Indeed, Mike has shown the car at the Atlantic Mopar Nationals in Englishtown, New Jersey, taking top honors in the '71-and-up B-Body division three years running, as well as many honors at other events. It may seem like a flashback, but for Mike, this one is a dose of blue cheer reality.