Featured Car Of The Month – September 20101971 PLYMOUTH 'CUDA
The '71 Plymouth 'Cuda (and sister dodge Challenger R/T) was the Chrysler Corporation's last serious entry into the muscle car craze of the 1960's and early 1970's. The year 1971 marked the last year for the Chrysler "Elephant" 426cid/425hp Street Hemi, and fewer than 110 such "HemiCudas" were built. 10 of which were the ultra-rare "Holy Grail of Mopars" HemiCuda convertible. Almost as rare was the 440 Six Barrel Cuda Convertible. Production figures on these cars are only slightly higher than the Hemi, and in the quarter mile, are just as fast! Interestingly, the Hemi convertibles are currently valued at about $2,500,000+ while the six Barrel Convertibles are valued at about $600,000+, and Hemi Hardtops such as this one are valued at $750,000.
Rising insurance rates, a looming oil embargo from the Middle East, and more strict emission laws were responsible for the death of the Hemi, along with the 440-6 barrel, 440 Magnum and the 383 Magnum. De-tuned versions of the new 400 (an over-bored 383) and the 440 were still available on other Chrysler muscle cars (Road Runner and Charger) from 1972 to 1974, but because of restrictive heads, low compression, and a mild camshaft, they laced the blistering performance of their predecessors. Unfortunately, this was also the last year for the 'Cuda to have many other high performance goodies, such as the legendary "Shaker" hood scoop, elastomeric color-keyed bumpers, all "Track Pac" packages, 15" wheels, 60 series tires, any big block V-8's, rim-blow steering wheels, road lamps, "high impact" exterior colors, Go-Wings and wild body stripes that "screamed" out engine displacement. These features, combined with the fact that 1971 was the last year for Chrysler convertible, was the only year that the 'Cuda sported dual headlights and "gilled" front fenders and had VERY low production figures, all make the 1971 'Cuda the most sought after Chrysler muscle collectibles of all time!
My father and brother Curtis made a trip to Jonesboro, Georgia on a tip from a friend who had just read a local auto trader and saw a Cuda Hemi for sale. Sure enough there sat a '71 Hemi Cuda in a barn witht he usual clutter all around. The car was very dusty and the usual dents and scratches of almost 20 years of barn buse I call it. But a true unrestored car! After negotiating a price from $10,000 to $7,800 on to the trailer one of the rarest musclecars of all time.
The car by today's standards of collecting would have been bufffed and detailed and left in it's original condition even though there were small dents and scratches. But at that time we decided a fresh coat of R-4 red paint was in order. An interesting note is that we traced the original Hemi billboard of this car to reproduce the decal. Other than that repaint the car is still in it's original condition. The interior and engine are the one's that was given the car in November 1970.
The first time the car was shown was the hemi Nationals in 1987. I remember pullin into the show with an open trailer and the sho practically came to a halt. We couldn't even get the car off the trailer as everyone circled around, asking about the car. At that time very few '71 Hemi Cudas of the 110 built had actually been seen.
Because of the involvement of my father and brother in the purchase and the enjoyment this car gave us all, it is definately the pinnacle of our entire collection.