Million Dollar Muscle: 1971 Plymouth Hemi ‘Cuda Convertible

One of the joys of working at Barn Finds is that it allows me the opportunity and the privilege to write about some of the most amazing, beautiful, stunning, and brutal classic cars that have ever graced our roads. This 1971 Plymouth Hemi ‘Cuda Convertible could be slotted neatly into any or all of those categories, and it is a vehicle that is sure to generate intense interest when its time arrives on the auction room floor. It is a classic guaranteed to generate a seven-figure sale price, such is its rarity and level of desirability. Located in Indianapolis, Indiana, you will find the ‘Cuda listed for sale here at Mecum Auctions. It is set to go under the hammer on May 22nd, so you’d best have a healthy bank balance or an understanding bank manager if you want to bid on this stunning classic.

This ‘Cuda has so many claims to fame that it Is difficult to know where to start. It is 1-of-12 Hemi ‘Cuda Convertibles built by Plymouth during the 1971 model year. It is also 1-of-5 made by the company for the export market. It is 1-of-3 that Plymouth built with the A833 manual transmission, but it is also 1-of-1 that wears the Winchester Gray paint color. Given its history, it is probably also the only one to have been sold new in France. The car spent its early life in foreign climes, only finding its way back onto US soil in 1993. It isn’t clear whether the Plymouth has ever received any restoration work, but the listing gives the impression that the ‘Cuda is original and unmolested. The Gray paint provides the car with a striking appearance and makes it stand out against other examples produced in high-impact colors. The paint shines nicely, with no evidence of significant flaws or problems. The distinctive Black billboard graphics look crisp and clean, while the panels are laser straight and faultless. There are no signs of any rust problems, and none are mentioned in the listing. The ‘Cuda features a Black soft-top that is in excellent order, along with flawless chrome and glass. The original Rallye wheels have no damage or fading, and these are wrapped in a period-correct set of Goodyear Polyglass tires.

Apart from the fact that this is a ‘Cuda Convertible with a Hemi under the hood, the most crucial piece of news is that it is a numbers-matching classic. That 426ci monster should be pumping out 425hp, which finds its way to the Dana 60 Sure Grip rear end via an A833 4-speed manual transmission. Plymouth built the car with power steering and power brakes, which should make taming this beast slightly easier. There are people outside the US who will wonder what all of the fuss is about with this ‘Cuda, so we need to let the numbers do the talking to provide a clear insight. With 425hp at the driver’s command, the Convertible could blitz the ¼ mile in 13.9 seconds. Give this brute enough room, and it will eventually run out of breath at 134mph. In 1971, those sorts of figures made the owner the king of the kids and meant that this was not a car that begged to be respected. It commanded that respect. The seller purchased the car not long after it arrived back in the US, and it has been in his private collection ever since. It isn’t clear how healthy it is, but Mecum states that the owner drives the car on occasions. With that thought uppermost in my mind, I would have the ‘Cuda thoroughly inspected before I attempted any long journeys. The odometer shows a reading of 98,000 kilometers. That brings us to another little quirk with this car when it comes to the question of rarity. Given the fact that it was exported to Europe, its speedometer and odometer both read in metric. At most, that makes this 1-of-5 produced with that feature. Helping to verify this Plymouth’s originality and history is the original Broadcast Sheet, French Title, and importation paperwork.

When its original owner ordered this ‘Cuda, they chose an interesting mix of equipment. The high-back Black vinyl seats are no surprise, nor are the Rally gauges, tachometer, and the pistol-grip Hurst shifter. That is all as you might expect. The console adds a touch of luxury, but that the buyer chose power windows and no radio is a surprise to me. Still, to each their own in a car of this type. The interior presents well, with no issues or problems. I get the impression that it is unrestored, and if that is true, it is about as nice as you could hope to find in a survivor of this age. There have been no aftermarket additions, and the buyer won’t need to spend a dime on any interior refurbishment.

We have seen many rare cars over the years here at Barn Finds, but one thing that we have learned is that rarity doesn’t necessarily translate into huge potential values. However, you might need to sit down for this one because this 1971 Hemi ‘Cuda Convertible will probably knock your socks off. The rarity of these classics means that they don’t hit the market very often. The record sale price was set in 2014 at a cool $3,500,000! I’ve seen the vision of that auction, and it was one of the most intense and frantic nine minutes that you could ever imagine. Seven years have passed since that fateful day, and values certainly haven’t dropped in that time. Mecum has placed an auction estimate of between $5,750,000 and $6,500,000 for this car, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it achieved those sorts of figures. I’ve just checked my wallet, and I appear to be a few dollars short on this one. Quite a few dollars short! However, that will not stop me from watching this auction because it promises to be a good one.


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  1. nlpnt

    I wonder how the original owner even ordered it. Did he just go down to the local Simca dealer and write a very big deposit check? Or was there some sort of third-party agency involved, or was it a matter of contacting someone in America to place the order there and arranging shipping individually?

    Like 7
  2. Joe Machado

    My daughter is interested. Film at 11

    Like 10
  3. Nash Bridges

    I prefer the Cuda convertible I drove in my tv series, “Nash Bridges”. Thanks for watching !

    Like 34
  4. Mark

    Note to self, first thing in the morning, sell all my Doge coin and head for the local Dodge dealer. Order any car with a Hemi and pay whatever extra has to be paid to have the factory paint it a color not normally offered for the model.
    Arrange to have the car shipped to another country (can’t opt for France now that it’s been done). When the car arrives have it shipped back home. Put it in the garage.
    Make reservations at Oliver Garden and over dinner let the Mrs know I’ve quit my job and that living off charge cards until the day we retire is not an issue since all our finances are set for the rest of our lives.

    Seriously, I’ve heard of “million dollar” paint jobs but this is ridiculous.
    The new owner better pray someone in town doesn’t clone this thing and park next to him at Cars and Coffee.

    Like 4
    • Dave

      When you’re dealing with cars as rare as this one you can make all of the clones you want but they’ll always be tribute cars. While I wouldn’t mind having a well-built clone I’d rather have a V6 Challenger GT AWD. 340 level performance is just fine by me.

      Like 4
  5. Bultaco

    Can you imagine driving this thing around Paris in the 70s? Besides looking outrageous, it would be enormous compared to the typical Renault 10s and Peugeot 404s. Roasting the tires down the Champs Elysee would be a thrill.

    Like 21
  6. hemidavey

    Cool ride! Hope the new owner actually drives and enjoys it, I do! The guys at Milan dragway are in utter disbelief when I run the snot out of it on test n tune nights…
    Damn the torpedos, WOT and bangin gears!

    Like 1
  7. Howie Mueler

    The last one i saw at Mecum went for $3 million.

  8. piston poney

    i love the color, and if i got it (yll gona hate it but read all the way throught first) id drive it and enjoy it a bit. over the winter id pull the motor and do a couple upgrades internally (only internal upgrades maybe flat tops and a slitly bigger cam) and put newer, stronger, but lighter rods in it, because original hemi rods are heavy and not very strong for the power they were making, when they break, the piston and rod go through the block and with a car that rare i would not want to risk windowing the block or damaging anything at all. ive heard to meany storys of people windowing there block when a rod break in one of these, its cheaper just to change them for newer rods rather than one breaking and the block windowing and haveing to get it fixed, then again if you buy this car money isnt a problem.

    Like 1
  9. donald jones

    no radio ? European broadcast bands were not the same as U.S. no radio. it wouldn’t work in Europe that’s why it was not installed..

  10. Scotty McLaughlin

    In July 1970 I was at a Plymouth dealer buying my first new car , a 70 340 Duster. There was a new cuda convertible 440 4 speed calling so I took a test drive and what blast !!! Since I was a E4 in the Navy There was no way I could afford a car like that. So I bought the Duster. That Cuda actually scared me a little cause it was so quick and strong but I still wish I could have bought it.

    Like 5
  11. Morley Brown Member

    Ok, if I bought this thing I would pull the drive train and put it into a certain 38 Willys pick up truck

    Like 1
  12. glenn C marks

    I am not a car expert. I do drive one. Honestly, I was more interested in the Maverick Grabber listed previously (I agree, Dusters were better). But, after all the million- dollar drool, the FIRST thing I noticed about this car is the rear bumper on the driver side appears to be pushed up. It is noticeable in the subsequent photo also, to a lesser extent. Maybe the owner will knock off $800 or so off the 6.5 million -dollar price tag to fix it. Like the stock market, the car market can also be prone to bubbles.

  13. Joe Machado

    Mr Marks, bet you still didn’t buy at 800,000 less, right?
    This morning drove to breakfast, daughters 70 Barracuda, 4-speed with an added Hemi. Factory Moulon Rouge FM3 paint.
    318 4-speed, air, original car.
    Yes, it has Factory Air.
    Load car Friday to bring back home.
    She loves driving it.
    She will continue to drive as a regular 51 year old car. Cars birthday is May 29

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