Barn Find 1971 Dodge Challenger Has Emerged With An Incredibly Rare Feature, Dodge Rolling Out Only 2,399 Examples

In the realm of vintage automobiles, barn finds have become the stuff of legends. More often than not, these forgotten relics resurface after decades of neglect, their once-glorious features faded and their bodies weathered by time. However, amidst the multitude of dilapidated vehicles, some extraordinary gems emerge—unveiling their true magnificence. Enter the 1971 Dodge Challenger, a true testament to the unexpected treasures awaiting discovery within the automotive world.

Recently brought to light by “Shade Tree Vintage Auto,” a popular YouTube channel, this first-generation Challenger had languished in a warehouse since the mid-1980s. Predictably, the passage of time had taken its toll on this classic vehicle, leaving it in a sorry state after nearly four decades of abandonment. While not as severely rusted as anticipated, the Challenger had suffered considerable damage, compounded by the ravages of rodent infestation that had rendered its interior beyond repair. Furthermore, the prolonged exposure to sunlight had resulted in a cracked dashboard, and the floor pans had almost entirely disintegrated.

Sadly, the original V8 engine was nowhere to be found, leaving only the remnants of a four-speed manual gearbox. Hints of a big-block V8 engine lingered within the engine bay, but no concrete evidence confirmed its factory installation in this particular Challenger. Notably, despite showcasing several R/T-style features, this Dodge specimen lacked the authenticity of a true R/T model.

Consequently, it falls within the category of the 18,956 non-R/T Challenger hardtops manufactured in 1971, irrespective of the powerplant. Regrettably, due to its current condition, this vehicle represents a rather ordinary example that may not warrant the effort and expense of a comprehensive restoration.

As fate would have it, a significant collision in the past necessitated the replacement of the Challenger’s original front end. Remarkably, the replacement not from an ordinary Challenger but from a coveted limited-edition T/A model.

For the uninitiated, the T/A variant was purpose-built as a homologation special for the SCCA Trans-Am series, boasting a lighter weight and an array of unique features. One such distinctive element was its matte black hood, proudly adorned with a sizable scoop, serving the purpose of channeling air into the heart of the 340-cubic-inch (5.2-liter) V8 engine. This powerplant, equipped with a “Six Pack” carburetor configuration, commanded an impressive output of 290 horsepower.

During the 1970 model year, Dodge produced a mere 2,399 examples of the Challenger T/A, making it a highly sought-after collectible. In its original form, complete with a numbers-matching powerplant, the T/A commands six-figure sums when changing hands between enthusiasts and collectors.

How can we be certain that indeed sourced from a T/A? The answer lies in its subtle yet revealing characteristics. Notably, the K frame of the front clip bears a “52” tag, a unique identifier exclusive to the T/A model. Moreover, three holes punctuate the fender tag area, indicating its dual-tag layout, further solidifying its T/A origins. Our intrepid host also unearthed faint traces of T/A decals on the front fenders, leaving no room for doubt.

Now, does the presence of a T/A front clip enhance the value of an otherwise unremarkable 1971 Challenger? Regrettably, it does not. Nonetheless, this extraordinary feature undoubtedly adds a touch of allure to a muscle car that has remained concealed for almost four decades. It goes without saying that the owner would likely face no obstacles in selling this remarkable vehicle for a substantial sum. However, the T/A front end will remain a permanent fixture, as our host has made plans to rebuild this Challenger in preparation for the 2024 Muscle Cars at the Strip event.

Curiously enough, our resourceful host had already decided to equip the Challenger with a 340-cubic-inch “Six Pack” powerplant. Although the engine is based on a 1968 block and not an original T/A powerplant, it serves as the next best option—a fitting and harmonious choice. All in all, this project represents a fascinating endeavor that will undoubtedly captivate the interest of enthusiasts, particularly those enamored with the world of rat rods. Check more info at video below:

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