Most Expensive And Rarest Plymouth Ever
You may expect that the most expensive Plymouth ever would be some sort of supercar or special car that was once owned by the President of the USA. Perhaps you think it would be some exotic car that you have never even heard of. You would be wrong on all counts. This is a car you probably HAVE heard of, and is still loved by many people today. We already covered a super rare Plymouth Indy Pace Car. I built the car we are discussing today as a model car a while back. Now let’s have a look at the Most Expensive And Rarest Plymouth Ever.
A Little History First
You know those 3 sweet little words every muscle car fan wants to hear….those 3 words that can cause the heart to stir…..no, not those 3 words….Hemi Cuda Convertible! Perhaps the most famous of all muscle cars, these amazing pieces of automotive history have caused generations of people to fall in love with Mopar. In 1969, Plymouth began offering a performance version of the Barracuda called the ‘Cuda. No, ‘Cuda is not just an abbreviation for Barracuda. ‘Cuda is a specific peformance package offered on the Barracuda. The difference in the logo that distinguished this car is pictured below, as is the original Barracuda logo for comparison.
The ‘Cuda package included engine options, suspension upgrades, and optional equipment that were not available in the base model Barracuda. In ’70 and ’71, the ‘Cuda had many optional engines to choose from, and they read like a ‘who’s who’ list of Plymouth power. The base Barracuda carried the 170 cubic inch Slant 6, the 225 cubic inch Slant 6, and the 273 cubic inch V8. Yawn! Don’t get me wrong, these were fine daily drivers, very reliable, and got decent fuel economy for their time. They were great commuter cars, and served their purpose rather well as transportation from place to place. However, that is not what interests us gearheads, so we won’t even go into detail about those grocery getters.
The ‘Cuda was where all the action was in 1970 and 1971. This option gave the buyer a buffet style selection of really good engines. This buffet list included the big boys, such as the 340 V8, the 383 V8, the 440 – 4 barrel V8, the 440 six pack V8, and the monster 426 Hemi V8. Any of these cars can fetch a pretty penny at auction today, as they are all desirable cars. However, there is one engine in that group that stands out.
Yeah, It Has a HEMI
The car we are looking at today has the venerable 426 Hemi engine that was feared on drag strips around the country. This is where most of these cars died, in fact. They were usually bought for drag racing, much like the 69 ZL1 Camaro we recently covered. These 4 bolt mains Hemi head engines were “officially” rated at 425 horsepower and 490 lb ft of torque. With their beefy cams and hemispherical heads, that estimate was laughably low. These cars were made for speed. This engine made gobs of horsepower, and that number was WAY below the real number.
These engines even had a nickname at the track. People called them ‘The Elephant’ due to their massive size and amazing horsepower. If you ever hear a gearhead talking about an “Elephant Cuda”, this is what they are talking about. The 426 Hemi was actually designed for NASCAR. This was Richard Petty’s engine of choice, and he certainly had a distinguished career in racing to prove it was a worthy choice!
For some reason, despite this wide array of options, sales of the ‘Cuda and Barracuda were not so brisk in 1971. Chrysler went from selling a combined total of over 50,000 of the ‘Cuda and Barracuda models in 1970 to selling just 16,159 of them in 1971. Of these 16,159 Barracudas and ‘Cudas, only 108 of the hardtop ‘Cuda 426 Hemi Coupes were sold. To further limit our scope, only 11 of those cars were 1971 426 Hemi Cuda Convertibles. Out of those 11 Hemi Cuda Convertibles, only 2 of the 1971 ‘Cuda Convertibles were ever made with the 426 Hemi AND a 4 speed manual transmission.
Out of those 2, only 1 is a numbers-matching car with the original engine and drivetrain. This is the car you see here today. Behold the ONLY numbers matching, 1971 Plymouth ‘Cuda Convertible 4 speed 426 Hemi in existence! This particular car had very few factory options included when it was purchased new. It was a pretty basic car, as it had only the painted steel wheels, a shaker hood, and hood pins. The important options are the 426 Hemi, the 4 speed manual transmisison, and the drop top. That combination is what makes it the most expensive and rarest Plymouth ever!
Rare, But Mysterious Too
That option list is also what makes this car an oddity – no one bought cars with these options as Sunday drivers. These Hemi engines were made for the track, not the street. No one buys a convertible for racing, as that wouldn’t make much sense. A Hemi 4 speed would not make for a very comfortable commuting car, either. This car was a beast! It did not like sitting in traffic. It certainly wasn’t large enough for a family of 4. So, why did the buyer choose this option set?
The professional racers bought these, but they bought a hardtop coupe for racing. They even added a roll bar for added safety and rigidity. Safety regulations would not even allow this car on the professional track, so it must have been bought for street use. So why were there 2 of these cars ordered like this? They have all the racing equipment, just like a race car, and then they added the convertible option. No one seems to know the answer to that unsolved mystery.
If This Car Could Talk…The Stories It Could Tell…
What we do know is that this particular car has had a rather ‘colorful’ history. It was once owned by Russell Meyers, the cartoonist that draws Broom Hilda comics. After he owned it for a while, he sold it to another guy. Then, while in possession of yet another owner somewhere along the line, the car was seized by Police in a drug raid and sold at auction. I wonder how many times this car ran from Police in high speed chases? It lived with the new owner until that owner traded it to another guy for some old Corvettes. After the Corvette trade, that owner fully restored it in 2000. He recently put it up for auction, and now someone else bought it and currently owns it.
No one knows what else may lurk in the history of this car, but this car has had a fairly wild history at any rate. The amazing thing is that it survived all that time. Throughout its 47 colorful years, no one blew up the engine, raced it to death, or otherwise tampered with the originality of this lone survivor.
Meet The Most Expensive And Rarest Plymouth Ever
This one of a kind car was sold at auction to an anonymous buyer (sorry Jay Leno, you didn’t get this one!) for the record price of $3.2 million, making it the most expensive Plymouth ever to see the auction block. The new owner will probably keep it a few years, as the previous owners have, then let someone else enjoy it. This means it may be up for auction again in a few years, so start saving your pennies now if you want to bid!
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