Plum Crazy: 1971 Plymouth Hemi ‘Cuda Convertible!!!

We all know common four-letter words that we should not use in polite company. One of the worst to a car collector is “FAKE”. It originally had bad connotations because it implied that someone was trying to get one over on you at your significant expense. Well, the sharpness of that word has diminished a bit over the years as fakes, or clones or tributes of very collectible cars have become more common and as sellers have been more forthcoming with the use of the word. Additionally, a “fake” starts to really make sense when you want to buy a fantastic, uber collectible car and you actually want to drive it without having to hock your entire retirement and your children’s inheritance. That’s exactly what we are going to review today, a 1971 Plymouth Hemi ‘Cuda convertible that is clearly a clone. It is located in Berlare, Belgium (second car from there that I have reviewed lately) and is available here on eBay with a current bid of $65,100, reserve not met yet.

Chrysler Corporation’s Hemi engine is the stuff of legend, especially version 2 that was in production between 1966 and 1971. Any Plymouth or Dodge so equipped commands a significant price premium. They were found in various Plymouth models including the Cuda, Road Runner, GTX, Belvedere, and Satellite while over at Dodge it was found in the Coronet, Super Bee, Charger and Challenger. This subject vehicle is designated as a Cuda as it is a high-performance version of Plymouth’s Barracuda pony car. The Barracuda/Cuda was in its sophomore iteration in 1971 and convertible version was only produced in ’70 and ’71, they are not too common. As the seller states, records indicate that there were only eleven Hemi Cuda convertibles produced in 1971. If any readers have better statistics on the production volume please let us know.

What’s so hot about the Hemi engine? Huge power plain and simple. The 1971 version, along with this tribute version, both displace 426 CI. The original factory rating was 425 HP, this specific version is unknown but based on the seller’s description it sounds like it’s a handful to hold on to. Backing up this elephant motor is Chrysler’s A833 four-speed manual transmission followed up by a Dana 60 series differential – all right out of the 1971 playbook.

I wish I could show you a better image of the interior but there isn’t one. Based on the seller’s description, it sounds great but I have to take his word that, “The interior is as well done as any top-flight restoration, with new stuff everywhere. The high-back buckets sport new foams under the fresh white vinyl covers that replicate the factory pattern exactly. New door panels look too nice to touch, while the black carpet, dash, and console provide a great contrast to all that white vinyl.” I find it curious that there are no comprehensive images to display all of this interior greatness.

As for the body and underside, it looks fantastic, as you would expect for what I’m sure was a high dollar recreation. The seller is forthcoming that this Cuda was, in fact, a Barracuda convertible sporting a base 318 CI V8 engine before it went through this Cuda metamorphosis. Mopar panel alignment in the late ’60s and ’70s left a bit to be desired but this example really looks tight – again, expected as a result of its total redo. The underside shows well, typically painted the same color as the top side, nothing looks out of place. The Plum Crazy finish and white side “billboards” are a matter of subjective taste. They do absolutely nothing for me as I prefer more sedate colors and the ’70 version which was more of a hip stripe along the top line of the body, curving downward at the rear portion of the quarter with the engine size displayed at the bottom of the stripe. Considerably more understated, but again, it’s a matter of individual preference.

There was a time when I hated clones and I considered the word ”tribute” to be nothing more than a euphemism. Over the years my position has softened providing sellers are open and honest about what they are promoting – I can really see the value in one of these. I can’t imagine paying top dollar (assuming I could ever afford it) for a mega-dollar collectible and then having to hermetically seal it, Fort Knox style, with the hope of being able to flip it in three years for a handsome return. What’s the fun of owning a beast like a ’71 Hemi Cuda convertible if you can’t actually take it out and drive it? So, how about you, are you accepting of a clone, providing it’s fully disclosed, or are you more of a purist and would only consider the real deal?

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Comments

  1. Neil G

    Upfront disclosure of a Clone doesn’t bother me for most American classic car; especially if it is only a trim and engine upgrade. Exotic European Supercars and kit car knockoffs almost always are are a thumbs-down.

    Like 19
  2. Keith Keith

    Clone cars these days are bringing in the big bucks. It seems like numbers matching cars are not as important to buyers today as it was back in the day.

    Like 14
    • RayT Member

      I think numbers-matching, original-equipment cars are still important to the Bucks-up crowd. They would be to me if I could afford to play in that league.

      But no real “Hemi ‘Cuda” can be had for $65K unless it is in full-oxidized Porsche 356 condition and probably missing its engine. And even if it were, most people wouldn’t drive it. The driveability and (relative) affordability factors make this one worth looking at.

      Like 7
  3. IkeyHeyman

    I see the point of a clone, it’s just not something I would be interested in owning. Growing up in a Pontiac family, I ended up getting turned off by all the poorly done GTO clones out there as well as the crooks who have tried to pass them off as the “real deal.”

    Like 4
  4. JW454

    Needs the correct looking battery. Otherwise, nice job.

    Like 2
  5. stillrunners stillrunners Member

    And a seal or two that are missing……..

  6. PaulG

    Jim, I believe that this would be a Junior, or third iteration with the 70-74 models.
    Nice car!

    Like 3
  7. Joe Machado

    Son told me the gages are incorrect, hood latch should not be painted. Frame was rotten and was repaired, etc. He quit looking at it because too much is wrong

    Like 3
    • Dave

      If someone buys this car, they’re not doing so for the investment value. Another thing to consider is that the car is an export model currently in Belgium. I would expect the speedo to be in kph, the temperature gauge to be in Celsius, and the oil pressure gauge to be in kiloPascales

      Like 3
    • Superformance Hldgs LLC

      It is a correct option rally Dash with a tic-toc-tach. The K-,e,eber is also correct for Hemi. Which isn’t saying much, as the same K-member was shared with all six-cylinders, as well(both E-bodies and B-bodies, with only minor changes to the left engine mounting bracket).

  8. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    I have this on my watch list. It will be interesting to see what it sells for, if it makes reserve.

  9. CCFisher

    “Clone” has always seemed inaccurate to me, since from a scientific standpoint, a clone starts with DNA from the original. “Replica” seems more apt.

    Like 6
  10. TimM

    All the parts are available today to make a classic better then it was originally!! The technology has improved!! Bigger better brakes better fuel delivery systems!! Better suspension I could go on and on!! The reason why I’m saying this is because we all want to drive these cars!! Taking that into consideration it would drive differently!! However it would be a car you could take anywhere with reliability!! I’m not apposed to it!! The only thing I’m apposed to is someone lying or misrepresenting there car in the name of the all mighty dollar!!! Someone is going to get a drivable car that you don’t have the fear of breaking down on the highway due to an older worn out or unreliable part!!

    Like 2
  11. Steve H.

    I LOVE the Plum Crazy.

    I HATE the billboards.

    Weird no pics of the interior. WTF

    Like 5
  12. Terry Bowman

    I’m no expert on a Hemi Cuda, but I believe it’s a small block under the air cleaner(as stated as it’s original origin). I heard it’s a 4-speed car and I don’t believe you can have a 4-speed with power steering and a Hemi, as in the photo.There just is not enough room for all those goodies. Someone mention what cars came with the “HEMI”, the 68′ Dart was left out.

  13. Joe Machado

    When new, I test drove a Hemi Daytona with power steering. Very common, even with 4-speed.
    This is a 318 Barracuda.

    Like 1
  14. Millenkneeil

    something about the roof line doesn’t look right. It looks like it’s chopped.

    Like 1
    • Raymond Hurst Member

      I was also wondering about the roof.

      Like 1
  15. Burger

    In younger years, I built a nice, rust-free 273/904 powered 66 Coronet convertible into a 440 Magnum/A-833 car, from a sadly wrecked 67 R/T. Also added the R/T’s OEM disc brakes, 3.23 Posi, sway bar and other R/T stuff. It was the thing to do back then. Still have the car and my only regret is the 440 is too much “go” for a car that requires one hand off the wheel and on the shifter. It can get sideways very easily. That, and it sucks WAY too much gas for a car I want to drive the wheels off of. A 383 would give solid performance and can be built to give good fuel economy too. Were it an original Hemi car, its value and theft potential would make it a museum piece, never to get driven. Clone, tribute, fake? … it was never built or intended to be anything but something more punchy than a slug-powered 273/904 car, built with readily available junkyard parts, back in the day. That’s all it was to me then. That’s all it is to me today. The problems arise when money gets added to the equation.

    71 was the best looking Cuda, with the quad headlights and fender louvres. Plum Crazy is great. The billboard paint is a bit much for my taste.

    Like 5
  16. Troy s

    Not a plum crazy purple fan and the white in your face billboard graphics aren’t helping it, for me anyways, but one run through the gears and I could learn to like it, haha. Color? What color?
    Only possible way to experience the Cuda nobody wanted is with a replica like this, I like that word better as stated above. Drive the heck out of it, that’s what its for.

    Like 3
  17. Paolo

    I appreciate a nice numbers matching original but for me it’s a pretty dry and boring way to appreciate a car especially if you like to drive. It’s okay with me if someone wants to build a car the way they like it. My only objection is when someone destroys a car with poorly thought out and executed modifications. Many “rest-mods” fit that description.

    Like 2
  18. Raymond Jacinto

    Why pay so much for old Classic, over price, hell buy you 2010- 2020 fix it up, you have a daily drive don’t be Sap and buy these over-price worn out, pieces of crap- spend your money wisely?

  19. Little_Cars

    That shot under the steering column does not raise my confidence level in the interior restoration. Look at those pedal pads and dust on the dashboard. Wear on the knobs and rust on the top switch. It’s details like this that can make or break a deal for me. Also, the shear size of the white graphics on the rear fender have me wondering if the same graphics in matte black would have been more slimming.

    Like 2
  20. TheExWifesGarage

    I was equally concerned with the same issues when my 63 corvair was delivered. But then I realized I only deserve a Corvair!

  21. Stevieg

    Someone here just asked why would any of us be a sap & pay for a worn out pos like this. That person needs to consider a different website. This might not be the scene for them.

    Like 2
  22. Mercury Charley Member

    Raymond,

    Its their money, don’t sweat it.

  23. Raymond Jacinto

    Yes very true.

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