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Blank Canvas: 1971 Plymouth ‘Cuda

When it was in its prime, this 1971 Plymouth ‘Cuda would have been a car that would have attracted plenty of attention. The next owner will need to be prepared to roll up their sleeves because there is going to be plenty of work to be done before it does that again. The Plymouth is located in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, and is listed for sale here on eBay. The owner has set a BIN price of $12,000 for the ‘Cuda, with the option to make an offer. There are cars that pop up for sale occasionally that spark some interest, and it appears that this might be one of them. At the time of writing, there are 220 people watching the listing.

The owner is pretty candid about the state of the ‘Cuda. It has some rust issues to be dealt with, and he suggests that while the rear floor on the passenger side might be able to be saved, it is his belief that the best course of action would be to replace all of the floors. He says that the car is also largely structurally solid, although the rear frame rail on the driver’s side will need to be replaced. There is also plenty of rust in areas such as the quarter panels, so the welder and grinder are destined to do their fair share of work.

The ‘Cuda started life finished in Winchester Grey with a black vinyl top. As so often can happen with cars of this vintage, the vinyl top has been a bit of a rust trap, and this has now made its presence felt around the rear glass. It is just another area for the grinder and welder to set to work. The news is less good on the engine and transmission front. The ‘Cuda rolled off the line fitted with a 383ci V8, 3-speed manual transmission, an 8¾” rear end, and power front disc brakes. The rear end and brakes are still present, but the engine and transmission are long gone. Just how the next owner will tackle choosing replacement items will be very much to their own personal taste, and whether they want to attempt to return the ‘Cuda to as close to original as possible.

The ‘Cuda was originally optioned with a white interior, but as with the engine and transmission, that white upholstery is now only a distant memory. However, it isn’t all bad news, because the interior does appear to be complete, and there are plenty of bits that could see further use without any big dramas. The dash and wheel look like they would restore quite nicely, while the pad looks to be in really good condition. The upholstered surfaces will all need new covers, and it’s a reasonably safe bet that a new headliner will also be on the shopping list.

There is no doubt that this 1971 ‘Cuda could be restored, but it will be interesting to see what path our readers would follow on this one. Would it be a faithful restoration, or would you consider an alternate route, such as slipping a Hemi under the hood? Over to you for answers.


  1. Steve R

    I think you go with a B or RB engine and either a 4 or 5 speed manual transmission. I’d probably put another vinyl top on it, since they look good and this car will live a pampered life once finished.

    Steve R

    Like 5
  2. TimM

    Tons of work but a good find!! I always hated doing the metal around the glass in the front or back of the car!! I wish all cars like this could be saved but when do you say it’s to far gone???

    Like 8
  3. LARRY

    Looks better than that poor 69 SS earlier. You can probably get this cuda on a rollback that chevelle would fall apart

    Like 5
  4. Jim in FL

    It’s amazing what time will do to value. I may have said it before, but my brother and I want through a Challenger/Cuda phase. We had about five of them and wound up making three running driving cars. A drag car, a traditional street racer, and a more sedate driver. The two we used for parts cars looked about like this when we scrapped them. We probably got 50 bucks each at the time (early 80s).

    This makes a good project for a skilled restorer. There’s no amateur shortcuts or bondo hiding under a recent paint job. It’s a good blank canvas. Pick your own motor, colors and theme, or go back to original. I would opt for the former. There’s plenty of perfectly restored cudas out there. Not in the cards for me, though. Above my skill level, and would be way to expensive to contract out the metalwork.

    Like 9
  5. Matt steele

    I think 71 cudas are sharp cars but wow that’s a lot of rust.

    Like 6
  6. Patrick S Newport Pagnell Member

    For me I would do this up like the ones in the Rapid Transit System ads of the day. I’d source a warmed up 340 six-pack.Paint it Rally Red w/340 billboards,4 spd pistol,black interior,rally rims,fogs.No vinyl roof. Willwood brake kit upgrade.Iconic muscle look. I’m driving it!

    Like 4
  7. Keith

    What we have here is a failure to communicate…….that is the correct price for this over priced Mopar junk. 12 cents not 12k!

    Like 6
  8. FordGuy1972 FordGuy1972 Member

    I guess you can ask whatever you want for a rusted out roller, it’s the seller’s prerogative. I don’t see $12 large here but I’m not a Mopar fanatic. Unless you have very deep pockets, you had better be able to do the metalwork yourself. I mean, this car needs everything. Lots of money needed for what’s missing and everything that is still present needs work.

    For the same money, you could certainly buy a better Mopar roller, though maybe not a ‘Cuda.

    Like 4
  9. Troy s

    Like those rims, nice steering wheel and actually the whole dash seems okay.

    Like 1
  10. John Oliveri

    Well it’s all about your skill set, mine is nill, so all the work jobbed out on a non matching # rust bucket is a loosing proposition for me, especially having to make it correct w a 3 speed manual, not really worth it, but for a talented body man absolutely

    Like 0
  11. Wayne

    Good $1,500 parts car and title for a new shell.

    Like 3
  12. Del

    I agree with Wayne. But is there even enough left to part ?

    This Cuda will never swim again

    Like 1
  13. Nick

    The 4:10 gears could not be had with an 8 3/4″ rear. 4:10 always got the Dana 60 regardless of manual or automatic. The vinyl top attribution seems strange…, I don’t see the trim clip holes where the vinyl would meet over the rear qtr. on either side. The Winchester grey is a beautiful color though.., too bad this is so far gone. It would be nice to see the fender tag to know how the car actually left the line. It’s not worth restoring but the body, IMO, definitely has value as a genuine 1971. This could be the basis for a 440-6BBL or Hemi. A tribute with one of these engines, however, could only get between $100,000.00 – 125,000.00. This will cost a lot more than that.

    Like 0

    I guess it could be saved;if I were the buyer I would go with a new generation Hemi and six speed. Your new best friend is the bodyman who’s kid you just sent to college after repairing this poor thing.

    Like 0
  15. bobhess bobhess Member

    The last window frame reincarnation I did took 2 full days to trim out the rust, support the sheet metal around the hole, and weld in the frame out of another car. Could be done with this car, but find one so badly wrecked and rust free you could justify cutting it out for another car. Haven’t seen a lot of ‘Cudas I’d cut up for body metal. That leaves forming your own framework. Last time did that it took 3 more days. Now, want to speculate the cost of having a qualified shop do that for this car? These are neat cars but there is a stopping point on rebuilding one. Looking at the back window would stop me.

    Like 7
  16. Angel

    There’s an 8:55 Youtube video on a Cuda the guys at AMD stripped to almost nothing and pieced together with new sheetmetal. Quite an undertaking. Im not sure what the quality of the panels are, probably not that of NOS, but its nice knowing that the parts market is there to bring to these cars back from almost nothing. Such a shame that so many ended up crushed due to parts being unavailable. Regardless of make, they all rusted away with time and exposure to the elements but It seems that Mopars were more prone to rot than the others. So rare to see an E-body like this one or a Charger (68-70) come up for sale that is a driveable survivor car. The majority are either restored or basket cases commanding top dollar. Unless its already happening, I dont think it’ll be long before companies like dynacorn, or Classic Industries start pumping out complete Mopar bodies. I know some of you will cringe on that thought, but considering how far gone many of these are, the costs of buying one, collecting parts, and the labor to bring them back, it may make sense to consider a re-body if owning one that isnt already restored is on your bucket list. Its nice to see the graveyard cars resurrected, but as time passes and values rise, it just makes less financial sense to bring them back from the dead. So eventually I think the options will be rebody, restored, or rethink classic Mopar and just go new.

    Like 0
  17. jeff

    All you guys downing themselves on their skill set on body work .Do you think your body man was born with skill? give it a shot muff a few paint jobs ITS CALLED EXPERIENCE you can get good results you are better than you think . just take your time if you have to make a patch 2 or 3 times so be it its called learning from your mistakes YOU can do anything if you put your mind to it

    Like 2
  18. Louis Q Chen

    This ‘Cuda is a basket case and best used as perhaps a parts car, not worth the asking price due to all the rust!

    Like 0
  19. jeff

    It is amazing to see what has happened to the prices of mopars in the last 20 years or so I had mopars before they were fashionable i e EXPENSIVE recently tried to get back into the hot rod scene tried to find a 1968 roadrunner as a retirement project cars that should be 3500 to 4000 grand are now approaching 10 grand for a 383 4 speed plane jane builder shell . E bay has considerably added to the problem when a guy sees a nicely done car at lets say 30 grand every jamoke thinks his rotted rough 318 or slant six Duster is worth 340 Duster money they are VERY confused on the true value of their car..I stumbled across a 1966 coronet for 1200 bucks on April 2 2019 that is going to soon be my baby it will have a mild 360 FOR NOW will it b perfect heck no. I am using ALL the original bodyparts and chrome . FORTUNATLY i do all my own sheetmetal and paint work and most mechanical work the CORONET will need some patches made and stripped to bare metal I wiil be starting on er real soon so stop whinnin and start grindin

    Like 1

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