The Plymouth Baracuda is a perfect time capsule for possibly the most exciting period in automotive history. Sure, Chargers, Camaros, and Mustangs are still awesome, but there’s something especially alluring about classic cars that were only available for a limited time. For every famous muscle car to come out of the ’60s, lesser-known models were made right alongside the all-time muscle car greats. Among this group of long discontinued muscle cars, the Baracuda stands head and shoulders above the rest as one of the most valuable and sought after muscle cars of the entire era. These cars regularly fetch six and sometimes even seven figures at auctions for immaculately intact all original examples.
Let’s take a look at what exactly makes this classic Plymouth so valuable and how high the ceiling is for its value.
Plymouth As A Brand
Next summer marks the 20th anniversary of when the Plymouth brand ceased to exist forever. For almost 75 years, it served as an interim brand that sat between the lower end Dodge and high-end Chrysler models. Even if Plymouth was a bit of a step down from the more luxurious Chryslers, they made up for this in performance. Plymouth’s heyday was easily the 1960’s. During this decade, they routinely unveiled undisputed classics like the Fury, Roadrunner, Duster, and of course, the Barracuda. After the oil crisis of the early 70s, Plymouth was never able to obtain the same momentum as they had in the past. As European and Japanese imports chipped away at sales for 30 plus years, the brand was laid to rest for good in 2001.
Stuck In Time
It took a little bit of time before the Barracuda became the muscle car hero we all love today. For the first half of the 60s, they were actually seen as economy cars. It wasn’t until 1970 that the third generation Cuda became the muscle icon it was apparently meant to be. At the heart of these Cudas was a number of dependable six-cylinder and V8 engines ranging from a 3.2-liter slant six all the way to the gargantuan 7.2-liter 440 V8 with a six-barrel carburetor. Obviously, different engines can drastically affect how much these cars sell for. It may be possible to score a slant-six Cuda for as little as $25 grand in average condition. Of course, the obvious most desirable engine for this generation Barracuda is the 426 cubic inch Hemi V8 with the four on the floor manual transmission. The Hemi Cuda dashed from zero to 60 in 6.3 seconds and zipped past the quarter-mile in around 13 seconds. That’s just as quick as an equivalent year Lamborghini Miura, a car which also routinely sells for absurd amounts of money. If the Miura deserves the distinction as a supercar from the 1970s, then the Hemi Cuda must deserve that too, because, at the end of the day, there’s hardly much of a difference in performance. The Cuda ceased production forever in 1974. While cars like the Mustang lived on to get chunkier and slower, the Cuda will always live on as a hero of the 60s and 70s.
A King’s ransom
Being that Plymouth only made a small amount of the Barracuda compared to other muscle cars, it makes sense that they command ridiculous premiums when they go up for sale. As we said, a slant six example of the Cuda can be had for relatively little money, and a non-running chassis could likely be found for even less than that. Fancy owning the biggest engine available? Be prepared to spend upwards of $60 thousand for the privilege of owning one, and even more for the 426 Hemi. The transmission also directly impacts value, the four-speed manual being the much preferable option in this case. One example with the Hemi engine and a stick shift is currently selling for a shade under half a million dollars on classiccars.com. Plymouth also did a small production run of convertibles. These convertible Cudas make up a tiny portion of the third generations’ 80 thousand or so examples produced.
The ultra-rare combination of Hemi powered convertible with a manual transmission sends the value of those examples into outer space. One of these 1971 Hemi Cuda convertibles smashed records in 2014 when it sold for a scarcely believed 3.5 million dollars. That’s Bugatti Chiron and Ferrari Laferrai territory, for a mass-produced American car built almost 50 years ago. Be prepared to see these astronomical auction prices only grow in size. As the quantity of these more sought after models become smaller and smaller, the only possible trend is upwards.
Seven figures may look like an insane amount of money to spend on what is essentially a 1970’s Chrysler product with a huge engine. Rest assured, the people who are lucky enough to own one will tell you that it’s so much more than that and then some.
Sources: themoparshop.com, zeroto60times.com, Autotrader.com, Hemmings.com
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