First One Ever Built: 1970 Plymouth Hemi ‘Cuda

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Of all the muscle machines deemed legendary and iconic that need no introduction, the Plymouth Hemi ‘Cuda rides pretty near the top of the list, and when you factor in desirability and the need for a cash cow to obtain one it raises the car up even a couple of more notches.  But here’s the question I pose to our readers today- drumroll please- how much does being the first example off the assembly line add to this car’s value?  Make no mistake, this one’s a beauty and checks almost all the right boxes, and if I beat the odds and win the lottery today I’ll probably buy it.  But my net winnings will have to equal $2,200,000 to make this dream a reality.  If you have deeper pockets than me or if the curiosity is overwhelming, this Mopar can be seen in person at the Motor Vault dealership in Indianapolis, Indiana, or you can just sit back and view 92 photos of it here on their website.

Supposing I do hit the jackpot, I want some proof I’m getting the real deal.  This doesn’t seem to be much of a problem, as we are provided with the fender tag, with all codes legible.  R08/E74: 426 Hemi, 425 Horsepower, 2×4-Barrel- check.  D21: 4-Speed Manual- there.  Plus they’re both claimed to be numbers-matching components in the seller’s video.  And from his point of view, most importantly, the sequence number: #100003.  Yep, it’s the third E-Body Plymouth produced, and the first equipped with a 426 Hemi.  I guess the only thing more prestigious in Mopar history would be if the first ‘Cuda produced had been Hemi-equipped, which would have made that number 100001 instead.  I’ll settle for three as the last digit.  I’m also comforted that Mr. Galen Govier himself gives it his confirmation, and the Chrysler Registry Documentation will help me sleep better at night too.

More interesting background information here is that once this ‘Cuda was completed, it didn’t go directly into public hands.  Instead, upon leaving the Hamtramck plant, it went about 10 miles north to the Chrysler-Plymouth facility in Center Line, Michigan, where the car was disassembled, studied, and used to prepare the flat rate manual for all future Hemi Cudas, which lists most repairs that could come up on a particular vehicle and the estimated time it will take a mechanic to perform those jobs.  Once this guide was completed, the car was re-assembled and then sold, and has been under the current owner’s watch since 1983.

The ‘Cuda has only been driven 17,755 miles since it left the Great Lakes State, and with one exception is said to be totally unrestored, sans one repaint at some point in the factory color of Alpine White (EW1).  It’s spent most of its time at the National Auto And Truck Museum in Auburn, Indiana, since ’83.  Things are still looking proper inside, with that factory 8-Track (R22) showing signs that some tapes have blared through the rear speakers (R31).  A conundrum, though- as much as I dig the overhead console some of these cars have, I’m not seeing C26 on the tag.  Is this factory?  Another detail the seller mentions in his video is that it’s a pre-production car with a Gran Coupe body, which is interesting and may explain the unit’s presence.

Looking under the hood, it’s easy to understand why everybody wants one of these cars.  A couple of examples that became legendary because of their price tags are a ’71 convertible which actually fetched 3.5 million dollars at a Mecum show in 2014, and another that crossed the auction block in 2021 with bidding reaching 4.8 million, although this one fell short of reserve.  But stacking up the ’70s to ’71s and hardtops to convertibles is somewhat like comparing apples to oranges, however, maybe $2.2m is an acceptable cost if you’ve got 7 digits or more in your bank account.  I’d better get to Publix and purchase a Powerball ticket right now.  But if you buy the Cuda before I can, at least promise me you’ll drive it to Middle Tennessee and let us ride around.  My wife and I will treat you to dinner at any nearby eatery you choose, and I won’t even ask to drive, you can just chauffeur us around town.  Just try not to impress her too much, as in numerous years of marriage this lady still hasn’t figured out just how far out of my league she really is.  What are your thoughts on this 1970 Plymouth Hemi ‘Cuda?

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  1. HoA Howard A ( since 2014)Member

    Let’s dance around the obvious, shall we? Publix, Mike? Mmm, they have the best produce, great people. Lottery? Ah, yes, the tax on poor people, MISTER ( there’s that self proclaimed best of everything moniker) Galen Whatshisname,,big deal. It’s pretty amazing to me, what a gap there is in this country. We obviously have people that have no problem with these kinds of purchases, then a BIG gap, and then the working ( or retired) schmucks like us, that have trouble with their gas bill and such. That’s a great system we have. Can I ask a simple question? Has any BarnFinds viewer made any $2.2 million dollar purchases, staff excluded,,(,little humor there) in the, say, last 6 months? Mmm-hmm, not bloody likely and if there is, I’d like to ask them why they would do such a thing? And “because they can”, is not an acceptable answer. The world is such a mess, and you mean to tell me someone has the audacity to spend this kind of money for mere automobile, and a poor one at that? Were not talking chump change, and probably the military budget of some 3rd world country.

    Like 16
    • 370zpp 370zppMember

      Publix? I am not a big fan of their overpriced produce, but they sell their own tomato juice and ice cream that are top notch.
      And sometimes the deli dept. turns out some tasty subs.
      Oh yeah, nice car here, too.

      Like 10
      • HoA Howard A ( since 2014)Member

        Thanks for the Publix reference, and not my rant, which I’m sure will follow, once the “non-members” kick in. It’s okay, fire away, folks, I’m not trying to be a smart axx, just like the interaction on things like this car. Of course it’s neat,,,for 1970. The thing is, the money stops here, MAYBE 1 more million dollar sale, but the way the world is going, I don’t see that kind of interest in the future. Once the Boomers are gone, the GenXs start having kidney failure, and millennials will have debt up to their, and million dollar musclecars will be the LAST thing they need. Snowflakes couldn’t care less NOW about some grandpa car that ruined the planet( cough) Pretty bleak, I’ll admit, but that’s the way I see it going down.
        Thing about Publix is, they have, or had, a great company structure. Employees that felt secure in their jobs, and treated customers as such.. Before I moved to Colorado, Florida was on the table, and I was going to drive for Publix. Never happened.

        Like 12
      • Frank

        Try their Fried chicken

        Like 5
    • Melton Mooney

      The guy or group of guys who buys this car probably aren’t to blame for all the perceived problems of the world.
      A new publix opened in my hood. They have pretty good beer and sammiches and beer.

      Like 10
      • SirRaoulDuke

        So you bought beer, a sandwich, and went back for more beer? Nice.

        Like 5
    • James Quinn

      “That’s a great system we have.”

      As apposed to what other system?

      Like 16
      • CF

        I think its called communism lol

        Like 8
    • Grant

      Couldn’t have said it better my friend.

      Like 6
    • Neal Jacobsen

      Why is this not at a Mecum auction? They could probably coax another half million out of the crowd. It doesn’t belong here as none of us here can afford it or have a climate controlled building to put it in. Barn finds should stick to vehicles under $150,000. Be more in the reality of the members/non-members world.

      Like 13
      • Brett Lee Lundy

        being in a country where an individual has the ability to earn the kind of money that we are discussing for a car like this is usually representative of the risks they were willing to take to pursue their dreams. This country was built on the backs of those individuals, the Rockefellers, the Fords, the Edisons, The Vanderbilts, and the ones all thru the history of this country. I do not hold any ill against a person that created the “American Dream” for themselves and their future generations. If they want a car, a home, a plane, well then buy it and enjoy it.

        Like 6
      • Grant

        Brett, The American Dream is wonderful, just as long as you do not walk on a great many people on your way there. Look closer at the history of the people you mentioned. Some of them started from a back ground of privilege. Others, like Rockefeller, started out dirt poor, did indeed work hard to get into the game, but once established became dishonest and ruthless to grab ever greater shares of the pie. The bribed and schemed their way to the top, and along the way, ruined many lives, especially the bottom line workers. Does any of this sound somehow familiar? That is the ongoing theme of some of the people here. The feeling is that to be able to purchase something like this, you are at least suspect of some of this. No one cares if the boss has a big house and a fancy car(s), just so he pays a liveable wage and is reasonable with his employees. Many employers are not like that, they squeeze every nickel they can from workers, and with the ill gotten gains, but things like this.

        Like 3
    • half cab

      Just think….people get on here and complain about an ole rusty hard to handle 50 plus year old bronco

      That they can’t afford….

      Like 4
    • Glen

      Sounds like someone shoulda paid attention in school and applied himself a bit more. Don’t hate people with a lot of money because you ain’t one of us. Like us for who we are, not our possessions. Going through life bitter and jealous will take the years off quickly. So instead, smile, wave and give us rich guys a thumbs up when we drive up next to you in cars worth more than your home and 401K balance.

      Like 2
      • Yblocker

        No conceit in your family, you got it all. Lol

        Like 3
      • Rex Schaefer

        Bite me!

        Like 0
    • Stan

      This car is perfection 💯
      Simple white ,426, 4sp, exhaust in the bumper, no spoiler, steel wheels,
      Mopars hallmark machine right here 🙌🏁

      Like 3
    • Rex Schaefer

      The social disparity in this country never ceases to amaze me! None of it’s likely to change though!

      Like 0
    • Robert Holt

      I hear you brother! I mean, what person that is even remotely a gearhead, or just appreciates a nice, old car would not love to be the proud owner of this fire-breathing steed? Personally, I have to wipe my mouth with a rag to control the drool over this beastly automotive work of art, but I’m in the ‘having a hard time paying my gas bill ‘ group. I fully understand the ‘gap’ you speak of, $2 million might as well be 200 million, I’ll probably never see that much money, nor would I spend it if I had it on one car, even one like this. But then again, I’m a lowly plumber, maybe if I had ‘chosen’ to be a pro football player, I could afford it… yeah bro, the gap is ridiculous, but real. I’ll just keep on drooling, and wiping my mouth…

      Like 0
  2. bobhess bobhessMember

    I don’t get too excited about car prices these days. I couldn’t afford to buy the left front wheel off this car so why should I worry what the price is. I’ve restored cars that now sell for 500 times what it cost me to buy and restore them. Is it nuts? Yes, but not losing money was always on my mind too.

    Like 9
  3. Classic Steel

    If one ever travels to third World countries and hear the young folks peddling carvings or art .. they state the line “Almost Free”.

    Well this does not apply .
    It’s expensive but very cool too.
    I understand its out of my reach..,but i can still admire it like a famous Picasso 😎😍

    Thanks for sharing Barn Finds.

    This is no different than reading about the McQueen Bullit car that sold for $$$. I admired the car and said very cool.

    Like 7
  4. Joe Machado

    Now that we have everyone’s financial statement, back to the Barn Finds real issue, Cars, or vehicles.
    And yes, mega buyers are on here, but don’t respond, write, or brag. Why?
    Enjoy the stories, but envy or the World is ending is not what was created here.
    Example: a tv show, any, should not have the hype of individuals bickering or fighting. Just the facts on that particular vehicle and related means of getting that done.
    Anyway, I gotta get the Hemi 4-speed out, drive it a bit.
    Then load the Porsche to go to a shop for a minor speedo issue Tuesday.
    Thursday, take my other trailer to get another 58 Citation I bought and that will be 3 day round trip.
    Later financial investors

    Like 8
  5. Jay E.Member

    What is the big deal? When this car was made, being a millionaire was something most strived for and few achieved. Now it buys you half of a a plain jane white ‘Cuda, with a big motor. When I look at my SS earning for that year, I earned lass than $8000… For an entire years work.
    So no, I don’t get it and don’t really admire or want to emulate someone that throws their money away so frivolously. I certainly wouldn’t buy this car, a similar one that I drove back in the day and thought was a an unreliable, ill handling, gas guzzling POS. I guess I’ll go buy some Crypto. NOT.

    Like 9
  6. Dean Shields

    I still like baseball, as well as old cars, despite the economics. For a regular poor working fella, I guess I’ve had my share of both. As a modestly retired one, I’ve probably had my last good oldie. We’re dangerously close to prohibited politics on this one, guys, and I won’t cross the line. But if I was an average major leaguer today, sure I’d outbid most for cars like this! I’m glad someone is in a position to preserve so many of them. I’m glad some sales are providing some old timers a better retirement than mine. As for this Hemi Cuda — aside from everything 70 being more collectable and drivable than anything 71 because they took awhile to figure emissions out — the first one is too cool, and has to be kept all original, but no customer ordered this car or another one in white! Give me purple or orange in any number for one of these (but I blame them for starting the dumbfounding neon lime green craze, lol).

    Like 6
  7. Maggy

    Someone call Kowalski and fire up those bulldozers too.

    Like 7
  8. Bick Banter

    $2.2 million??? I’d buy a Charger 2.2 for $2,200, LOL!

    Like 6
    • Grant

      A much better car, to! More comfortable, easier to drive, and people will come over and talk to you about it when stopped. Many people had those, I can count on one hand how many people I knew that had a hemi back in the day, and all of them regretted the purchase,…all of them. As far as white goes, a damn fine color if you ask me. Howard, sorry buddy but I think your wrong about when we keel over these will drop in value. These are no longer cars to remember your youth, they are bragging tools and investments for the ultra rich. They might fall out of fashion as such for those type of “people” but otherwise, the market will be there.

      Like 10
      • bone

        Yeah, go to a car show and show up with an Omni Charger and park it next to this and see how many people check yours out. Lots of people had one, that doesn’t mean they liked or even really wanted one – You know why you dont see them anymore ? because they were junky underpowered disposable cars and 99% of them are long gone – There used to be thousands of Citations on the road too, now there’s none – again , just a crap car no one wants.
        I’ve only known two guys that owned a hemi car, neither regretted owning it, or any of their big block cars they purchased, both wished they saved any one of the muscle cars they had .

        Like 1
    • John S Dressler

      Bick, absolutely! Who cares when it was made? This is one of those cars for people with more money than sense. At a car show after the “wow that’s cool” comment by anyone who even notices, how in the world does that justify the $2,000,000 price tag? The difference between this Cuda and any other Cuda just like it manufactured in the same year is nonexistent – and MUCH more affordable. The death of common sense is alive and well!

      Like 11
      • Grant

        The death of common sense is allowing money to be distributed the way it presently is. That would cure so many societal ills and would help cure our ailing hobby. It would bring back many of us old timers priced out of the game and would allow younger people to get excited about it. It would bring back interesting cars to the local car shows. Isn’t that what we should want?

        Like 4
      • Bick Banter

        I’m of course partially kidding but I really would be much happier with a Charger 2.2 that I could drive than I would this I mean, what are you suppose to do with it?? I would be terrified to drive it, and I don’t know what you would do for insurance.

        It will probably just sit around in a garage until the person who buys it is ready to sell it to the next investor. That’s really it’s only purpose at this point

        Like 6
  9. Steve Weiman

    it’s interesting when it’s at the level of no longer being a “car” anymore. Not sure what you call this lump of steel exactly, maybe some of your rich guys can fill me in on that……..

    This car could really use a repeat of the Ferrari scene in Ferris Bueller‘s Day Off.
    Minus the crash ending of course……:

    Like 2
  10. Patrick

    I find this cars history to be iconic, 3rd E body produced, being a hemi 4 speed, then the fact they car was the warranty time and repair mule is just a cool feature. Now the very unreal mileage on the car is so appealing. The fact that aftermarket parts have never touched it.

    I really admire the cars history. The very first 70 hemi Cuda built.

    Like 11
  11. Glenn Hilpert

    I grew up with these all out muscle machines you could purchase for under let’s say maybe 7K new. That was a chunk of change in the day for the average working American. A classmate of mine in 1970 when we graduated from HS, was handed over a brand new ordered Challenger R/T SE, Plum Purple paint, Alligator type Black vinyl roof, a Torque-Flite trans with the 440 mag. I thought this was the ultimate muscle car of the time. Another friend years later acquires a 1970 Cuda AAA with a 4-speed trans, 340 motor and was painted White. He also had a 70 Challenger with the 383 motor as well. I just cannot justify the cost of these cars in today’s world and have to agree with the majority of comments here that 2.2 mill is a dream figure, but someone will eventually purchase in due time. I’ll stick with my affordable 2010 Challenger R/T which gives me more than decent gas mileage and power to spare. Ah, the memories.

    Like 6
  12. J Peebs

    I know the guy that owned (owns?) it – didn’t know he was selling/sold it. At one time he tracked down the owner of the LAST Hemi ‘Cuda off the line and they were going to try to sell them together (probably 12-15 years ago). Good luck Gary!

    Like 7
  13. Basil

    Thank you for all those that chose to focus on the car.
    And for those who decided to respond to the lottery system, the relevance of Publix stores and the current state of equality in America, let’s focus on the task at hand.
    It’s a nice car despite to color. I hope the new owner drives it occasionally, so that the rest of us can enjoy it on the road. It amazes me the prices these cars command these days!

    Like 9
    • Donnie L Sears

      You always will have crybabies that complain about our country. But the thing I could never understand is why they are still here crying. If I was as unhappy as these people I would have left years ago. But it is a nice Cuda.

      Like 1
  14. Russ Ashley

    I wish I had the money to buy it. I wouldn’t buy it if I did, I’d just enjoy having that much money. I love cars but I couldn’t enjoy owning this one. What would you do with it? Drive it? No way, it’s too valuable and might get damaged. There are a lot of billionaires in the world and maybe one of them will spend his pocket change on this so he can say he owns the first 1970 Hemi Cuda. I’ve been a Mopar guy most of my life but strangely I don’t want this one.

    Like 4
  15. Grant

    2.2 Million? Give me a break. If the classic style is your happy place, and you have the cash for this one. I have a better idea. Buy a brand new replica body, put in all new parts for a brand new car. Upgrade the suspension, and have your engine and tranny of choice. A modern hemi six speed would handle so much better and give you so much more power. It would be the classic car with a much better driving experience, and it would be a tenth or even 20th of the price (if you did it yourself). That car would get driven, and it would earn you great respect from other car affectionados. Of course, cars like this particular one, are not really cars any more, and most purchasers are not car people. If you get to see the car at all, it will from other other side of a rope and the owner will never speak to you, just look smugly at you. How many of us have had that experience at a car show? How did it make you feel?

    Like 9
  16. Mutt

    Gorgeous ‘Cuda.
    Plymouth RIP 1928 – 2001

    Like 9
  17. Yblocker

    Well, assuming one buys it, what would one do with it? One certainly wouldn’t be fool enough to actually drive it, not with all the idiots on the road these days, even a mere stone chip could give one a heart murmur. I guess keep it in the garage, park a lawn chair next to it, crack open a beer, and gawk at it.
    On a more serious note, if I had that kinda money, I sure as h&ll wouldn’t spend it on a car, I’d buy a big piece of dirt, as in land, real estate, a much wiser investment.

    Like 5
  18. dwcisme

    Not joining in on the rants about are Cuda’s worth whatever. As they are a finite item, it’s worth whatever someone is willing to pay for it. I can’t afford it, wouldn’t buy it if I could.

    However! In the summer of 1971, a 15 year old me was hitchhiking across PEI (Not a big province, didn’t take long). I’m on the curve where the highway from the ferry heads toward Charlottetown when I hear what may be the most wonderful noise in the world; a Hemi at full song and see this white Cuda come flying through the curve. Without any hope at all, I stick out my thumb and surprisingly, it stops for me. And then backs up a pretty significant distance to meet me as I’m running towards it (there was no way I was turning down a ride in a Cuda!) Only as I’m getting in do I see the Hemi emblem on the shaker hood scoop. I’m in heaven! I probably made the owner regret picking me up with whatever innane questions my car crazy, 15 year old mind could come with but he humoured me and demonstrated the abilities of the beast as much as PEI’s 2 lane roads would permit. At one point we were north of 100 mph (pre metric system) and he had to pile on the binders as a funeral procession pulled out of a church. Just over the next hill was a Mountie radar trap.

    First and last ride in a Hemi Cuda. Quite satisfactory.

    Like 13
  19. Fred

    I’m a 70yo boomer, a car collector and restorer in my youth, but now, if I had the 2.2mil for this car, at this point in life, I’d opt for life experiences that the money could buy, instead of stuff like the 1st hemi Cuda.

    Like 8
  20. Big C

    Waiting to hear from all the Ferrari F40 fan boys out there. Telling us how crazy it is to spend money on this ‘Cuda.

    Like 4
    • John S Dressler

      The F40 is just another too-much-money car for actual classic car enthusiasts,

      Like 2
    • Russ Ashley

      Big C, having worked in a Ferrari repair/re-sale/part-out shop I would suggest to the F40 fan boys that they don’t really have any room to call someone crazy for spending ridiculous amounts of money on a car that will require ridiculous amounts of $$$maintenance.

      Like 1
  21. Craztgerman

    I agree , ANYTHING no matter what , is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it at any given moment. IF I had 2,2 million I am sure I could find more satisfaction spending it on life and living life instead of purchasing anything like this just to say “look what I have” and not being able to drive it and enjoy it.
    I saw a new Corvette ZO6 with $12.000 carbon wheel option from the factory. Just think if your wife bumped a curb!!!!!
    But as a wise man once said to each his own

    Like 1
  22. Paul S

    Dirty carpet, cracked paint, dirty engine/carburetors. Spare tire is flat not fitting the rim. I can’t see the underside what condition it’s in. 2mil I don’t think so!!

    Like 3
  23. Howie

    What?? It is still for sale??

    Like 1
  24. Jeff R.Member

    Someone should buy this car and immediately do a remake of the ending of “Vanishing Point” with it. Wouldn’t THAT be something!

    Like 1
    • karl

      Well first , Vanishing point used Dodge Challengers , not Cudas , and none were hemis . Second, the car that hit the bulldozers was a 67 Camaro . So if you want to wreck another 67 Camaro ,be my guest !

      Like 2
  25. George Mattar

    If you are selling a so-called milestone muscle car, you better have correct Chrysler parts on it. I spent maybe 5 seconds perusing the engine bay. Cheap aftermarket radiator cap and hose clamps. Minor, certainly, but when asking stupid money, well don’t be stupid. If I had $2.2 million, I’d buy rental properties and sit back and collect far more. I am a total car guy, have owned many muscle cars in the last 50 years, but this thing we call a hobby is gone. Only the rich can play now and they can’t even change the oil in one of these cars. Very sad.

    Like 3
  26. Joe Machado

    Paul S., so, you did not bid on the Bullitt movie Mustang because it had dents, scratches, dirty engine bay? Etc

    Like 2
  27. 370zpp 370zppMember

    Oh yeah, the Publix brand orange juice is pretty good too . .

    Like 0
  28. JoeNYWF64

    Shaker hood scoop sitting too low? – maybe missing/worn carb gaskets?

    Like 0
    • Yblocker

      Carb gaskets don’t wear out, and I highly doubt they’re missing.

      Like 0
  29. Buddy Haggerty

    I sold my 1970 Cuda convertible in 1985 for $7,000 dollars. That’s about 20,000 in today dollars. I sold it because I didn’t have enough money to keep it up. Now I don’t have enough to buy it back! Oh well, guess it’s nice to have at least owned a car that commands this much money. I guess I was just ahead of my time.

    Like 0

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