If you’re one of the thirty or so guys who called after we sold our killer triple-black 1971 ‘Cuda convertible with a modern EFI Hemi, here’s another chance at something every bit as special. This 1971 Challenger convertible is outfitted with a monster 600 horsepower 6.1 liter Hemi, a Viper-spec 6-speed manual, and a heavily upgraded chassis, all wrapped in concours-level body and paint work. The result is a car that combines one of the best-looking Mopar ragtops of all time with modern performance and reliability that even 426 Hemi owners could only dream of in 1971.
Built by the artists and craftsmen at XV Motorsports (www.xvmotorsports.com), who specialize in extremely high-level Mopar pro-touring cars, this is a top-flight convertible that will put a smile on your face every time you twist the key. The fellows at XV take no prisoners, and they don’t build down to a price. The equipment is what it is, costs what it costs, and the sky is the limit. Few people can afford their hardware, but what you get for your money is a hand-built supercar that drives, handles, and feels better than anything you’ve ever driven with a Pentastar badge on the nose.
As I mentioned, the bodywork on this car is simply stunning and would be right at home at the next Mopar Nationals-winning $500,000 Hemi ‘Cuda. Arrow-straight panels and exacting fit are hallmarks of the XV Motorsports crew, and this car received the full treatment. A customer can spec any colors and configuration they want, but I like that this car keeps very close to the factory with a modern take on the B5 Blue that was so popular when these cars were new. Obviously there’s a lot more pearl and metallic in this paint, so it looks faintly iridescent in the sun, and if you see the car at sunset, you’ll think it’s made of Kryptonite or something because it glows so beautifully. A quote in the New York Times about one of XV’s cars says, “A Dodge Challenger, that can be either driven at dangerous speeds or parked inside a gallery, where it can be admired as sculpture. Or maybe both.”
The car has been tastefully modified, and that meant leaving the good stuff alone. The Shaker hood is fully functional, and is looks only slightly different because the scoop is painted body color instead of the usual argent silver. The reverse is true of the tail panel, which is now argent silver instead of black or body color, as they were originally. Up front, the original grille was retained, but an OEM-appearing XV badge has been fitted in place of the regular R/T piece, a cool touch that lets people know this is more than just a garden-variety Challenger resto-mod. Bumpers are beautifully restored, and most of the original emblems have been retained. All the glass is new, too.
Pop that Shaker hood and you’ll find a heavily worked 6.1 liter EFI Hemi power plant. Part of XV’s major engine development program, it features the best parts and assembly. Filled with custom-made components like forged pistons, steel I-beam rods, custom billet camshafts, and sophisticated porting, this particular Hemi churns out a real-world 600 horsepower. It also features a custom engine management system that cleanly interfaces with the OEM sensors to deliver true daily-driver reliability and turn-key operation. Find a vintage Hemi that makes this much power and idles so perfectly and still pulls down 20+ MPG. A custom intake manifold was developed using CAD and allows the use of the Shaker hood scoop, which remains fully functional. Long-tube ceramic-coated headers are part of the package, providing not only great exhaust flow, but an incredible sound to match. For additional strength and to sharpen handling, a tubular support bar was fitted between the shock towers, and also provides support for the massive Shaker scoop. Look a little closer, you’ll see that the inner fenders and the bottom of the hood are finished to the same standards as the body, that hoses and lines are cleanly routed, and wiring is tucked out of sight—this is not an average build.
Nowhere is XV’s expertise more evident than under the car. Not only are the floors beautifully finished in satin black, but there are numerous upgrades designed to make this 40-year-old handle like a Viper. You’ve undoubtedly noticed that massive K-member that not only strengthens the entire front end of the car, but carries an upgraded suspension with adjustable coil-over shocks and a modern rack-and-pinion steering system. The transmission is a Viper-spec T56 that shifts cleanly despite all the horsepower churning through it, thanks to triple-cone synchros and a dual disc clutch with hydraulic actuation. Out back, there’s a trick differential packed with 4.33 gears and a gear-driven limited slip (instead of cones or clutches). T304 stainless was used to fabricate the custom 3-inch exhaust system, and it was fully polished before installation, and combined with those long-tube headers I mentioned earlier, the Magnaflow mufflers sound downright predatory. Braking is compliments of 14-inch front rotors with 6-piston calipers and 13-inch rear rotors with 2-piston calipers. Out back, there’s a custom-built stainless gas tank that looks stock, but houses a pair of 255 LPH (liters per hour) high-pressure fuel pumps for the EFI system under the hood. Wheels are gorgeous 18-inch 3-piece modular units from Kenisis wearing 275/35/18 front and 335/30/18 rear Michelin Pilot Sport tires.
I’ve often said that there isn’t much that can be done to improve the interiors of some of these muscular Mopars, and apparently the guys at XV agree. Rather than completely redesigning the whole package, select upgrades make the most of what was already a great place to do business. Fresh heated and powered Recaro bucket seats were installed then covered in buttery-soft navy blue leather. The back seat and custom center console were upholstered to match, and the door panels were custom made. Power windows, door locks, top, and trunk release were added along with a tilt steering column and billet wheel. Instrumentation is comprised of custom XV gauges that include a 200 MPH speedometer (of which you’ll be able to use a good portion). Entertainment is enhanced by an Alpine stereo system with iPod interface in center console, and this car is so fast, a recent quick run with the top down resulted in the speaker covers in back blowing off from the wind generated by this car at speed. And just in case someone thinks they can make a quick get away in this brilliant blue Challenger, a Viper alarm system with satellite tracking has been installed.
This car is downright insane. Those who have driven it praise not only its sheer speed, but its poise, comfort, and drivability as well. Even to the casual viewer, the craftsmanship is tangible, with one enthusiast calling it “space shuttle grade.” While I have a great deal of respect for the guys at NASA, I have yet to see anything as beautifully finished as this Challenger at the Air and Space Museum. I don’t want to guess at the construction cost of this car, but if someone said it was a quarter-million dollars, I would not be a bit surprised. This is truly a no-compromises modern supercar that merely looks like a 1971 Challenger. I bet XV would be willing to build you one just like it, but here’s one you can have without the wait and for a $100,000 discount. If you missed the black one, you’ll kick yourself for letting this one get away. Call now!