1970-1971 Plymouth Hemi Cuda

Only a few years ago, a Plymouth Hemi ’Cuda convertible—1 of 11 built in 1971—caused a furor when it sold for $2 million. Even in a heated automotive market driven by nostalgic baby boomers, no one had ever paid that much for a muscle car. The record-breaking sale firmly established the handsome Hemi ’Cuda as the category’s ultra model; the ever-rising values of coupes and convertibles from 1970 and 1971 only confirm its exalted status.

If you’re seeking to track down this model, here are some tips:

What to Look For

Plymouth built more than 70,000 ’Cudas during the 1970 and 1971 model years, which were not created equal. In addition to extensive trim and options lists, buyers could specify one of 8 (1971) or 10 (1970) engines with performance levels that varied dramatically: The base Slant Six for 1971 generated an anemic 105 hp while the range-topping Hemi produced 425 hp, good for a 0-to-60 mph time of less than six seconds. Simply put, a ’Cuda’s engine determines its value. Hemi ’Cudas command a significant premium over ’Cudas equipped with the next most collectible engine, the 440 Six Pack. Those with lesser eight-cylinder and six-cylinder engines don’t register on the collector radar.

What They’re Worth

Expect to pay at least a few hundred thousand for a Hemi ’Cuda coupe. At the 2007 Barrett Jackson auction—a venue known for setting muscle car records—1970 Hemi ’Cuda coupes brought between $240,000 and $500,000. Prices for convertibles, meanwhile, rival those of extraordinary Duesenbergs and Ferraris. Ultrarare Hemi ’Cuda convertibles have brought more than $3 million, and one owner claims he refused an offer of $4.1 million for the last 1971 convertible built.

Caveat Emptor

As with any high-performance variant of a mass-produced model, beware of so-called clones—ordinary ’Cudas retrofitted with Hemi engines and accessories. Most sellers will identify such cars correctly, but perform your due diligence—especially in sight-unseen online transactions.

Where to Look

Start with a mopar expert like Julius Steuer of Los Angeles-based Restorations by Julius, who often know of cars that might be for sale (www.rbyj.com). Also, check out the annual Barrett Jackson sale (www.barrett-jackson.com) in Scottsdale, Ariz., which typically features a strong lineup of muscle cars, and keep tabs on classified listings at www.hemmings.com and online auctions at www.motors.ebay.com.

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