OCTOBER 30, 2011 (NOVEMBER 2011): 1971 CHARGER RT-THE ACTUAL 1971 NHL STANLEY CUP MVP CAR

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In 1971 Ken Dryden was just another kid attending Cornell University when the legendary Montreal Canadiens called him up for six regular season NHL games.

 

He was like the Rock of Gibraltar in goal for the Canadiens in the 1971 playoffs.\

 

He shut down the powerful Boston Bruins before stonewalling the Chicago Blackhawks in the finals.

 

Ken Dryden was still a rookie and wouldn’t win Rookie of the Year until the next season but he did win the Conn Smythe trophy for MVP in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

 

He also won a car-a 1971 Charger RT.

 

The Montreal Canadiens had the car driven to center ice and presented to Dryden for his incredible performance in the ’71 playoffs.

 

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Flash forward to 2000 when Evelyn Tilleman spotted a red Charger RT in traffic and saw a kid behind the wheel. She aimed her husband at the kid and told him “either you come home with the car or don’t come home”.

 

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Fear had to be the world’s best motivator because he struck what has to rank as one of the world’s cleverest car deals-he traded their 3rd car to the kid for the solid, but somewhat neglected old Dodge.

 

The car was Ken Dryden’s 1971 Charger RT.

 

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Montreal Canadiens’ history aside, this is an incredibly desirable car. It has every option including the electric sunroof – only 23 buyers ticked off that option on the order sheet back in 1971.

 

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Kenny Dryden traveled in style 40 years ago because this Charger also has air conditioning, power steering, power brakes, headlight washers –the list goes on and on because nothing was too good for the Stanley Cup MVP in Montreal where hockey isn’t just a game it’s the raison d’etre.

 

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Mopar sleuths are going to spot the graphic on the hood and cry foul but this was a graphic designed for one person-the Conn Smythe winner in the 1971 Stanley Cup finals. Thirty years ago the car was repainted but the owner at the time had the foresight to mask around the decal rather than sand it into oblivion.

 

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These same Mopar fanatics might question the factory color of the car but the color was changed from Rally Red to Canadiens Red and noted on the order sheet. This was a special blend to celebrate the vast tradition found in the “rouge” part of the famous “bleu, blanc et rouge” colors of the storied Montreal Canadiens.

 

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Evelyn is a student in this era of the Dodge Charger and she’s an expert on this car. She even researched the serial number and found out that the 12 digit number was a Chrysler error at the factory. Evelyn has a deep interest in the car’s biography so she has tried to contact Dryden over the years with no success-even after he was elected to the House of Commons as a Member of Parliament.

 

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She’s curious about Dryden’s experience behind the wheel of his MVP award-the same one that he won after only a handful of regular season games. So far the reclusive ex-goalie has resisted the urge to tell tales of life behind the wheel of this big red Dodge Charger.

 

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That’s probably a good thing because Mr. Dryden might catch a wave of nostalgia for his long lost MVP car and make her an offer. There’s very little chance that Evelyn would succumb to an offer even from a legendary hockey player because as she says, “if somebody wins big money in the lottery maybe we’ll talk but this car isn’t going anywhere”.

 

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Should there be any doubt that Evelyn is personally invested in the car, it disappears when she talks about the non-functioning AC. She has her own cure, as she explains,“I just roll down the window and put my hat on tighter”.

 

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Evelyn has the right attitude for her car and she’s clearly the perfect owner, “It’s a 40 year old survivor and I’m proud of that”.

 

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Spoken like an MVP owner of an MVP car.

 

Jerry Sutherland

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