1971 Charger RT 1971 Charger RT

    '71 Charger R/T
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   '71 R/T FE5 440 4spd Kevin Bucheger

Following is a brief history of the car since I bought it in 1994.

In the early nineties I lived in the back woods of Michigan’s upper peninsula. When it came to old cars, a person of my age & limited means settled for the cars that could be found in the local area. I had been fixing up a ’72 Charger SE. It was an original 400 Magnum, auto, white with white vinyl top & white interior. When I got it, it was black with a 318. I’d installed a 400 borrowed from a friends ‘77 Cordoba. While preparing to get serious about the car, I realized it would never be the Charger of my dreams no matter what. So I sat down & searched my soul for what would be my dream car.

What I came up with was a ‘71 Charger R/T, 440 4 barrel (even in a dream world, I couldn’t see a Hemi or Six Pack car in my future), 4 speed, Ramcharger hood, 15 x 7 Rallye wheels, disc brakes, exhaust tips & Green Go paint. This quest led me to the Mopar Nationals in ’94.

What I found was one pile of junk after another. If it wasn’t an incomplete car, it was butchered or rusted up to the windows. Feeling very discouraged, on a Friday afternoon, I suddenly saw this red car in the car show lot with a for sale sign in it. The car seemed to be very original. The paint was faded out, the vinyl top was mostly torn off, the front & rear valances were dented & the seats were all torn up. Most everything seemed to be there, but it all needed to be re-done. Compared to everything else I’d seen that day, this thing was the Holy Grail. The only things missing from the "dream car list" were the exhaust tips & the green paint. The car had a Missouri title & 2 build sheets. The only option’s missing was the AM radio & console mounted cassette player. It also had a ’70 rear spoiler & ’70 E-body console.

The price was $6,500. The seller had planned to change the interior from white to black. He had new carpet, headliner & seat covers, as well as used door panels from a ’71 Charger SE, which were included with the car. We negotiated, & agreed on $6,000 with him keeping the black interior except the carpet. I gave him a deposit, & we agreed to meet the next day to settle up.

My plan for buying the car was to get a cash advance on a credit card, then get a loan to pay off the card after I got home from the show. I barely slept that night, thinking of all the things that could go wrong & keep me from getting this car. In the end, everything went smoothly & the deal was closed. I drove the car from Indianapolis to northern Michigan (aka southern Canada). A friend of mine even got video footage from when I got pulled over in Wisconsin for having no license plate. That was funny stuff.

There were some rust holes before & after the rear wheels, as well as some perforation on top of the wheel openings. The front fenders needed lower patches. Dan’s Auto Body in Hurley Wisconsin did the body & paint. I began showing at many car shows the summer of ’95, & the car was very popular in the ’71-’74 B-body stock class at the Mopar only shows. The car has been a work in progress ever since.

I’ve had the privilege to have my car chosen to be on the cover of the Year One catalog in 1998, featured in Mopar Muscle magazine in the January 2006 issue & included on the cover & in an article of the June 2009 issue of Muscle Car Review.

Kevin Bucheger

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