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Climb in the 1971 Dodge Charger and crank it up with Car and Track

"If you like cars and in particular appreciate styling this 1971 Dodge Charger has to grab you"—at least that's what Car and Track host Bud Lindemann thought. The host was excited that "somebody finally had enough originality to build a car that doesn't look like it came off a GM drawing board". As this vintage road test footage proves, the 71 Charger wasn't just a looker—it had it all in the muscle department and was quite a performer on the track.


If you were willing to look over the dismal 8-10 MPG fuel economy and the whale of a price tag (over the $5000 mark) the 1971 Charger SE was quite a car. From it's 370 horsepower 440 V8 to it's on track handling characteristics, the Charger had it where it counted. On top of all that, the car was easy on the eyes, a fact Lindemann didn't mind mentioning several times. It was no Ferrari, but the 4000 pound Charger was "a better than average performer by far".

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A 1971 Dodge Charger was the 1971 Indianapolis 500 pace car that crashed into the photographer stand at the start of the race. Driving the pace car that day was local Dodge dealer Eldon Palmer, who fielded the car himself that year (Chrysler, along with Ford and GM, sensed the impending end of the muscle car era and chose not to supply an official pace car in 1971. Palmer got together with other local Dodge dealers to round up 50 Challengers for the Indy 500.) As the story goes, Palmer had practiced braking in the pits before the race and positioned either a flag or a cone at the point where he should have started to brake. However, before the pace lap and the start of the race, somebody removed the marker, so Palmer, with Indianapolis Motor Speedway owner Tony Hulman, astronaut John Glenn and Chris Schenkel of ABC Sports in the car, ended up braking late and careening out of control into the stand. Several photographers were injured, but none fatally.