Why The 1971 Plymouth Hemi Cuda Deserves To Be One Of The Best Classic Muscle Cars

As the muscle car era drew to a close and the infamous malaise set in, the auto industry gave us one last truly special model.


The significance of the 1971 model year won’t be lost on most enthusiasts, as this was the year the emissions restrictions officially came into effect and Plymouth were faced with a choice; follow other examples and cut performance to meet those new standards, or kill the model. Rather surprisingly, they chose the latter, not willing to tarnish the reputation of their incredible performance car by strangling it to death like other similar muscle cars of the time, as a result it would go on to become one of the most collectible era-defining cars.

Related: Dennis Collins Hunts Down A 1971 Plymouth Cuda And 1981 Chevy Camaro


Plymouth Hemi Cuda: Hemi Big Block Power

A muscle car should have a V8, it should also have at least a little more displacement than the average V8 too.

The Hemi big block is anything but subtle, although it adds a ton of weight it also adds tons of horsepower. This 426 cubic inch behemoth produces 425 horsepower and can rocket the Cuda from 0-60 in under 6 seconds, an astounding figure considering the weight of the car and its awful stock 70s tires. Also terrifying considering the fact that its 70s brakes only sort of stop the beast.

It was to be their last true big block, too thirsty for the new era, especially with its huge exposed, antiquated Carter carburetor setup.

Related: 850-HP Big Block 1966 Chevelle SS Is A Stunning Pro-Street Muscle Machine

Plymouth Hemi Cuda: Perfect styling

If you were to draw a silhouette of a muscle car, you would be more than likely drawing the silhouette of this incredible machine.

It is a simple but beautiful flowing design, and with the shaker hood has every element in place. Any half decent muscle car needs to be, at its core, a simple commuter car that has been transformed by a big, powerful engine. Most car designs changed dramatically in the 70s so this was one of the last cars that still looked like a commuter car from the 60s, which in this context is a really good thing.

Ford may have been selling more Mustangs than they could make but the “pony-car” had already evolved into something quite different, something “modern.” By 1971, the Hemi was anything but “modern,” but it was an instant classic.

Related: Rare 1970 Plymouth Hemi Cuda Set To Fall Under The Hammer At Mecum

Plymouth Hemi Cuda: Highly Collectible Convertible

Having only sold around 18,000 Barracudas in total for 1971, it is not nearly as popular as other muscle cars or even other model years.

The Hemi Cuda was on another level though, every source under the sun quotes a different production number, but it is safe to say only a handful were made and less than 10 convertibles have survived. It has become the single most valuable muscle car on the planet, worth millions of dollars, the most recent sale of $2 million was actually on the low end with other cars previously getting sold for almost double that. Several copies have been made over the years but even the 440 cars have spiked in value, selling for half a million dollars in restored condition.

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