Back in 2014, a 1971 Plymouth Hemi ‘Cuda Convertible sold for a record-breaking $3.5 million. No other muscle car has sold for that amount, so what made this one so special? Well, first off, it’s not only the rarest Plymouth Barracuda around, but it’s also one of the rarest muscle cars in general.
The rare muscle car was one of only two produced for the US market with a 426/425-hp V8 engine and a 4-speed manual transmission, and it’s the only one that still exists. So, it’s a one-of-a-kind car.
In general, only 11 convertible ‘Cudas with the 426/425-hp engine were built in 1971, so that makes it a rarity on its own. Now that the muscle car has been defunct for years, more and more Plymouth cars are rising in value, which makes people think that maybe Chrysler should have kept the company around. Then again, if they had, they probably wouldn’t be worth what they are today!
Let’s take a look at what makes this the rarest Plymouth Barracuda around, by looking at its unique specs, its current valuation based on its rarity and slim production numbers, and other record-breaking auctions involving Barracudas.
The Cuda’s Specs
The claim to fame of this particular ‘Cuda that sold for $3.5 million and broke Chrysler auction sales numbers is this: it’s the only numbers-matching ’71 ‘Cuda Convertible with a manual transmission.
It’s fully restored with a bright blue paint job. It has most of its original bodywork and the “numbers-matching” means the motor is an original. That’s a huge factor in determining the rarity and worth of these cars. It also includes the Performance package from 1971, which included a Dana 60 4.10 rear end, a Super Track Pack, a 26-inch radiator, and the iconic Barracuda Shaker hood.
And again, it had the 426/425-hp V8 engine, which was not around for a long time. In 1968, only 50 fastback Barracudas had the 7.0-liter (426 cu in) Hemi engine, for the Super Stock drag racing model. In 1970-1971, even less were made. And by 1972, the big-block engines (383, 440, and 426) were no longer offered.
Recording Breaking Auction
As mentioned above, this particular ‘Cuda—which sold for $3.5 million in 2015—is one of the rarest around. It also set a record for a Chrysler vehicle being sold at auction. But there have been other rare Barracudas that have sold at auction which give us a glimpse as to why this car is so sought after.
Just last year in 2019 at a Mecum Auction in Canada, two Plymouth cars sold for over $3 million combined. One of those cars took the majority of the earnings, and that was a 1970 Plymouth Hemi ‘Cuda Convertible. Only 14 of these convertibles were made in 1970, making them extremely rare, and only three of them had the Lemon Twist yellow paint job (pictured above) that was delivered to Canada. The fully-restored car used the 426/425-hp V8 setup, with an iconic Shaker hood and a 4-speed TorqueFlite automatic transmission. It sold for $1,980,000 (or $2.7 million in Canadian dollars).
In 2007, a similar model to the one above sold for $2.42 million at an auction, though it was slightly modified. And in 2007, an automatic-transmission model exchanged hands privately for $3 million, making it the second-most expensive ‘Cuda ever sold.
So, as you can see, this ultra-rare car has been worth massive amounts of money for over 15 years… but that doesn’t mean all Barracudas are worth as much.
Why The Car Is So Rare
Let’s get to the nitty-gritty of why this Barracuda is legendary. First off, the Barracuda was based on the Valiant platform and there were 45,412 Barracudas built in 1968. That’s a big number. But in 1970, only 652 Barracudas were built, and only 14 of those were convertibles. That’s a huge number decline.
For 1971, the E-Body car remained one of the most collectible muscle cars, with only 13 Hemi ‘Cuda Convertibles built, and the last year of the big-block 426/425-hp engine available. On top of that, only seven of these 13 were sold domestically!
According to Motor Authorities, the current Hagerty Valuation for a normal 1971 Hemi ‘Cuda in perfect or near-perfect condition is $340,000, which is a huge number for a muscle car, but it’s not as big as it once was. For instance, back in 2007, the same car had a range of about $890,000 to $1.2 million! It shows how pricey the car used to be, and how ultra rare, but it also shows that there’s been a steady decline in valuation for muscle cars in general since 2007.
That being said, this bright blue, beautiful ’71 Hemi ‘Cuda Convertible still managed to snag $3.5 million, making it the highest price ever paid for a Chrysler passenger vehicle, and even the highest price ever paid for any muscle car!
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