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Rare Back Yard Find! 1970 Plymouth Hemi ‘Cuda

The Barracuda was all-new in 1970 and Plymouth was still heavily committed to building performance-minded cars. The “top dog” was the 426 cubic-Inch V8 with a 4-speed manual transmission. That combination found its way into only 289 ‘Cudas that year, of which five were convertibles. This car is one of the other 284 and has had the same owner since 1975. Once raced, it sits in the owner’s crowded backyard, and he has no plans to sell it. Thanks, Larry D, for another hot tip here on YouTube!

This car was discovered by The Auto Archaeologist who makes it a habit of tracking down cool barn finds. Thanks to the car appearing on a recent magazine cover, AA went about locating the car to find out its story. After some creative sleuthing, he discovered the car’s whereabouts “out west”. To protect the owner’s privacy, that’s as far as he’ll go in revealing the location.

The owner bought the car in Michigan in 1975 after coming off a tour of duty in the U.S. military (thank you for your service). He was looking for a 1970 Dodge Challenger convertible with a 440 6-Pack because he liked the lines of that car better. But he couldn’t find one and “settled” for this Hemi ‘Cuda (his words). Besides being a rare Plymouth, it was finished with In Violet paint, which was Plymouth’s name for Dodge’s Plum Crazy (purple). Factor in the color and how many of these hot rods could still be around – in any condition?

He raced it for several years as “The Goofy Grape” and switched out the fuel intake system with one provided by Helborn because he wanted more power out of the Hemi. Since its racing days, the car has lived in its owner’s back yard, and he kept it covered. As a result, the body is in better condition than the photos would suggest. When AA found the car, the cover had frozen to the body, so as a courtesy he sent the owner a new one.

There is no indication what plans the owner may have for the car. For all we know, it will continue to sit untouched in his back yard, propped up on jack stands. This machine is a potential gold mine in terms of resale value, although your bank account would take a hit in restoring it.


  1. KC John Member

    Super cool find. I think it’s a crime not to free the car from it’s backyard prison. I understand a bunch of people would disagree with my choices on my own ride. Still I think it’s disrespectful to the car. Heck, don’t restore it to factory. Make it live again as ya built it. I’d kind of like to show my grandkids that these beasts really roamed the earth. Cash out friend, let her live again.

    Like 52
    • CBA

      Absolutely, I’ve been around for awhile and owned a lot of high performance mopars. If you haven’t done anything in all this time, you never will. Nobody is getting any younger and it would be a shame that after your your work is done here, someone might not know what it is or the value and just gets crushed. Cash out and stay in touch with the new owner/restorer.

      Like 8
  2. Tooyoung4heyday Tooyoung4heyday Member

    Its cool to have the same owner for so long and Im sure there are tons of memories tied up. The car seems fairly preserved for being outside, atleast its not half sunken into the earth or has a tree growing through it. There comes a point where reality comes knockin and you need to say Can I do anything with it?, Will I do anything? The brutal truth if the answer is yes and youve owned it this long, its now or never. You may know you own the car, but the fact that its been reexposed to you is a sign. The only thing I could see is if hes passing it down through family. If so, do so soon or get that person involved so that you can atleast see it run and drive again reliving that past youre holding onto. Too often the story ends sadly. They never get done, or family doesnt care, or bank gets stuff and these gems go to scrap. My dad has owned his ’70 since new and some day was forced by a fire. Now the restoration is going to cost more money and time because of the pieces we’ve had to replace that didnt need to be before. Good luck with your story.

    Like 21
  3. bobhess bobhess Member

    The 7 uncovered injectors and unhooked water hoses are going to contribute nothing to the preservation of this rare engine.

    Like 29
  4. Camaro Joe

    Bob is correct, who knows what’s in the seven uncovered cylinders. I’ve seen mice get through places smaller than the openings in that Hilborn manifold. At least #3 cylinder is (probably) not full of crap. Two cans of tennis balls and a couple wraps of duct tape to make sure they stay put would have done a lot to protect the Hemi. But that needed done years ago.

    I’m guilty of having a couple cars that haven’t run in two years, but they’re complete, were running, and sitting inside my clean dry building on a concrete floor. I’ll probably have to drain the gas out of them, but other than that they should fire and run, hopefully next spring. Looking at this one just
    plain hurts.

    Like 18
  5. Big Bear 🇺🇸

    Wow.. what a find! It’s a shame nothing is going to be done with it. The motor going to need a major overhaul with the trans .. the interior looks done. I never saw a Mopar steering wheel look like that. Since this is a Hemi Cuda it’s worth big bucks. But it’s going to take big bucks to fix it. The frame and front end is questionable. It was nice reading about it. 😄

    Like 14
  6. Dave, Australia

    If this was left like this in Sth Australia the engine intakes would be home to deadly eastern brown snakes.
    These Plymouths share a very similar front grille to the XB falcon 500, mad Max car.
    Travesty leaving this vehicle outside. The cover may keep rain off the car but any moisture underneath will be trapped.

    Like 15
  7. T

    How sad. I treat my vehicles like my pets. I look after them.

    Like 18
  8. CCFisher

    There comes a time when one simply has to acknowledge that he will never have the funds to give that car in the back yard a proper restoration, and allow the car to go to someone who has the means to give it the restoration it deserves. Do what’s best for the car.

    Like 26
  9. JP Shelton

    I had a Jewel 1969 crew cab dodge power wagon in amazing original shape.. I just kept it running and driving all the 23 years I had it till I got remarried…. It sat for 6 years outside…
    Lucky for me a buddy came by and chewed my butt out for allowing this NO CANCER truck to sit… And start deteriorating… We work three solid days getting the truck fired up running and brakes working.
    Amazing how only 6 years sitting outside call so much damage.
    We loaded it on the trailer and took it to a local car show in Shreveport Louisiana for the world to see it again.
    It actually had hundreds of people take pictures in it and was in full amazement of the shape of the truck and this brought me to the final conclusion.
    I didn’t have the money nor the time to turn this truck into the resto mod that I had planned.
    So I listed it on Dodge power wagon website and sold it to a man in Kentucky…
    Who continues to send me pictures today of it and it’s original Glory but sitting on top of a modern day Cummins Dodge diesel…
    Towing his travel trailer and using it.

    My point to this is yes I missed the truck and every time I look at my old pictures and my daughter talks about all the times we drove it in parades and all over town it makes me smile but yet I knew it was time to let that truck go to someone that was going to do something with it.

    Shame this rare cuda is being horded and was not actually stored in a way it would not destroy the motor.
    Hopefully reality will hit home.
    If you haven’t done anything with it in 10 years your not ever going to.
    Sell it

    Like 6
  10. Rick Rothermel

    It’s HILborn, not Hellborn.

    Like 10
  11. Dr Ron

    Hagerty values:
    Concours: $294,000
    Excellent: $250,000
    Good: $190,000
    Fair: $118,000
    Junk: priceless
    Considering the junkyard in the backyard this individual might have a hoarding problem.

    Like 15
    • hemidavey

      in restored to concours I doubt you could buy it for 294, more like 400k.

      Like 11
      • Dr Ron

        If Mecum were auctioning a concours car they’d likely start at $300K with reserve

        Like 6
  12. Shuttle Guy Shuttle Guy Member

    Wow! And interesting. It’s a “Must Inspect” before purchase for sure.

    Like 4
  13. Dave

    Just getting a good look at it might be painful as it sits lol!

    Like 3

    Well this just breaks my heart, a freaking real-deal HEMI ‘CUDA just wasting away in the dirt. “It’s not for sale, I’m gonna restore it someday” is how very valuable, very cool and very legendary cars turn into piles of rust. I have no doubt the owner knows exactly what he has and how much it’s worth, but I’d be willing to bet that he’ll be dead and gone before anything gets done with this true muscle car legend. Can you imagine how incredible(and terrifying!) this car must be to drive? I can, and I wish people that own historic cars like this ’cuda would at least pass them down to the next generation that will respect and restore them back to the glory they deserve.

    Back in the late 80’s to early 90’s, I had a neighbor that owned an absolutely gorgeous ‘69 Camaro RS/SS 396 4 speed in burnt orange that was in really good condition, it just needed the engine rebuilt. The car had zero rust, the interior was as perfect as the day it was built, and my friends and I watched that car rust into the ground over the course of several Pittsburgh winters. We could not believe he bought that car, only to set it in his driveway and let it rot, and he had a garage! Like I said- heartbreaking. I understand that the owner can do whatever he wants with the car because it’s his car, but how many historical cars have been lost to “It’s not for sale, I’m gonna restore it someday”? I should’ve been born to rich parents…

    Like 15
  15. Junkyard dog

    I’m kinda tired of Cudas and Mopars really. In the day, we all considered them fugly AF but OMG now it’s all I see and the prices being paid are just Butt dumb. No offense meant, but I’m looking forward to a market correction for all the insanity.

    Like 8
    • Ffred

      The only people who considered them ugly were jealous chevy boys. I spanked so many chevies at the track they would redlight all the time or complain about being put up against my Hemi. It was great! My boss had a 427 Chevelle and rebuilt the (upgraded)engine when I bought my Hemi car. Sounds to me a lot of guys still havent grown up.
      Gen II Hemi lover.

      Like 2
      • CBA

        Ffred, you’re right. There’s no way a MOPAR or true car enthusiast in their right mind would call this car ‘ugly’. That sounds like ‘sore looser’ talk😀!

        Like 3
  16. Ricky Member

    In a small west Texas town a few miles from me, there’s a 69 Ford Talladega in a guy’s backyard. Been sitting in the same spot for so long the car has sunk into the dirt up to the chassis. Several 55 and 56 Chevies in the back yard as well. “They ain’t for sale”!! I finally quit asking several years ago. They are still there rusting away. Pity. Some people….sheesh!

    Like 10
  17. Big C

    The funny thing is. This guy knows what these things are worth. Yet, there it sits, going back to earth. You couldn’t have dragged it into a garage? Twenty years ago?

    Like 10
  18. Kevin

    This hurts to see, knowing he’s just going to let it rot.

    Like 6
  19. Retiredstig Member

    It’s strange how many of these guys are out there. They have rare and/or valuable cars or motorcycles, and would rather watch them become worthless junk than sell them to someone with the means to properly restore them.
    I imagine the reasoning is slightly different in each case, but these people just drive me nuts with their inability to part with their treasures.

    Like 5
  20. 370zpp 370zpp Member

    There will always be people that do this. Along with people that do a lot worse.
    Think of it as the darker side of human nature. Bottom feeders.

    Like 1
  21. 433jeff

    Sorry im with The owner,please leave my location out of it. / Dont bug me

    He probably thinks i have all these memories with My Hemi, My Hemi.

    We are all in a rush to give him market value . And waste more of his time an energy, We wont be the first annoying person waving a checkbook and pointing out rust and other reasons for a cheaper price .

    Plus if he does sell it , how many times a day will he beat himself up for selling, if he gets paid and buys a clone, its not going to be the same. Right now he values the car more than the money, He is a true car guy, Thanks but No Thanx

    Sorry you keep your money/security i will keep My Hemi, granted its not the same as it was 20 years ago, like us we too have issues after 20 years

    Jay Leno is my hero, they asked him about the cars that he sold and he said…. I haven’t sold any! Smart man

    I sold my car, and have to spend more to get it back, yea I would rather have the car than yhe money,No it wasn’t a Hemi.

    Its his dream, his name is on the title He has the right to fix it up or watch it rust into the ground.

    Or like some, Expire and then someone else collects the money.

    Like 9
    • Tooyoung4heyday Tooyoung4heyday Member

      Poor example as Jay Leno restores his cars through his shop and actually uses them and continues to make memories with his cars. This car deserves a better life. I’m of the same theory of don’t sell the car, you dont have remorse. However, i actually do stuff with what ive obtained. That picture I use for my profile is of my Hurst Rambler before it was removed from a 34 year slumber. That car was supposed to be willed to me by my uncle. This decision was set in stone when i was 10. After 18 years i got eager and bought the car off of him instead. The transaction came with mixed emotions from him. Two years later it was on the road. I know he was excited for me but partially upset with himself for various reasons. He was happy to see it out and full of life again but perhaps upset he never did it himself. I was never able to get him to take the car for a drive or even ride with. There was a resentment. He passed away five years after I purchased it the week before the big AMC show in Kenosha and i was going to make him drive it there, after all it was his before it was mine. Why not relive old memories but create new ones. Never got to happen. I took the car to his funeral, many hadn’t seen it since the 70’s but were glad i brought it in his memory. He was a true lover of all things automotive. I like to think he rides with me now. Im truly thankful for it, i also purchased a different classic of his too after his passing five years ago. Now I have 10 years of memories made with the car he chose to share with me.

      Like 10
  22. Rex B Schaefer

    POS Let it rot!

    Like 2
  23. Sfm5

    Give it to Mark at Graveyard Carz and they’ll have it looking better than the day it left the showroom floor!

    Like 4
  24. Johnny Demonic

    Maybe he lost a race to an L88 car and the condition for losing was to park the car forever.

    Like 1
  25. Ricky Member

    He should go out and take several pictures of the car with him standing beside it and in it. Put them in a folder with any other older pictures he may have of it. Put down in words the story of the car and him. Memorialize it. Keep the car in the family if possible. Give it to a grandkid.No reason this car should only bring a smile to the current owner, share with others. That would bring me bigger smiles.

    Like 3
  26. Karl

    Wow…this is definitely one of those situations where it’s easier for people who aren’t him to say what should be done. I believe (like 99% of the others who have posted comments) that this gentleman should give up(as in sell) the car to someone who could bring it back to life. It really does seem like the most logical reason, considering WHAT this car is. ….but…. Since I’m not the owner, and have no clue what’s going on in his head regarding the history of this iconic vehicle, I’ll give him the benefit of doubt as to why he doesn’t want to part with it. We all have reasons for WHY we do(or don’t do) certain things, that nobody else would understand unless we were that person. So I wouldn’t bother the guy….but don’t get me wrong. If it were ME, I’d want the car to live again, but that’s just me.

    Like 1
  27. Robert West

    Why are these kinds of cars always owned by people with no intention of restoring them? He’s owned it nearly 50 years which means he’s at least 70 which tells me it is going to look just like it does now for the foreseeable future.

    Like 2
  28. Eric K

    Until owner dies it will rot. Selfish? Yes. But it’s his. His life memories parked outback for him to remember at will

    Like 0
  29. Frank

    My older aquaintence of mine ran a injected 426 Hemi powered 37 Willys coupe back during the gasser wars and was national champ two year, 66 and 67 I think. Back in 71 he told his sponsor that he wanted to go roundy round racing on our local dirt track. The sponsor said he would get him a car asap. They got a great deal on a new left over 70 model and cut it up. He said it was a beautiful car, red, black top and interior, loaded with all the bells and whistles and nobody wanted it, gas, insurance? You could really hear that Hemicuda Coupe come out of the corners, it had a sound of its own. Cars were cars, once used up they were scrapped or discarded.

    Like 0

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