From the mid-1960's until the close of that decade, automobiles became lighter, more compact, and more powerful. Auto manufacturers continued to compete against one another for drag-strip supremacy. As government regulations and safety concerns increased, the muscle car era began to decline rapidly.
Many of these ultimate high-performance muscle cars were built to satisfy homologation requirements. Others were built just to have the fastest machine on the road. The Plymouth Hemi 'Cuda is an example of one of the fiercest and most powerful vehicle ever constructed for the roadway. It was derived from the lesser Barracuda's which began in the mid-1960's. It was built atop the 'E' body platform and was restyled in 1970 by John Herlitz, making it longer, wider, and lower. The 426 cubic-inch Hemi V8 was capable of producing an astonishing 425 horsepower. Matted to a four-speed manual 833 transmission, this was the ultimate muscle car of its day.
This 1971 Plymouth Hemi 'Cuda Convertible with black paint and orange billboards was offered for sale at the 2006 RM Auction in Monterey, CA where it was expected to sell between $180,000-$220,000. It came equipped from the factory with power windows, power brakes, power steering, Rally instrument cluster, rim blow steering wheel, bucket seats, AM/FM cassette radio, and driving lights. It has a Dana '60' rear end and the 426 cu in engine. It is one of just 374 'Cda Convertibles built in 1971. On auction day bidding reached $165,000 which was not high enough to satisfy reserve. The vehicle was left unsold. By Daniel Vaughan | Dec 2006
Sold for $44,000 at 2010 RM Auctions. This 'Cuda Convertible was given a show-quality restoration to original specifications and is one of just 374 examples originally produced for the 1971 model year. It is believed to be one of just 87 383-powered convertibles produced for the last year of 'Cuda convertible production in 1971. The 383 cubic-inch V8 has four-barrel carburetors and is capable of producing 300 horsepower. There is a TorqueFlite three-speed automatic gearbox and four-wheel hydraulic brakes.
The car is finished in Tawny Gold, with a white interior and a white power-operated convertible top. Features include dual chrome-tipped exhaust outlets, floor console, hood pins, power brakes, power steering, Rallye wheels, a 'Slap Stik' shifter and a 'Tuff' steering wheel.
In 2010, this 'Cuda Convertible was offered for sale at the Vintage Motor Cars of Meadow Brook presented by RM Auctions. The car was estimated to sell for $60,000 - $70,000. As bidding came to a close, the car had been sold for the sum of $44,000 including buyer's premium. By Daniel Vaughan | Aug 2010
V8 Cuda Convertible
The 3rd generation Barracuda ran from 1970 through 1974; the previous generations were A-body Valiant based which began in 1964. Designed by John E. Herlitz on the 108-inch wheelbase, unibody, E-platform, a shorter and wider version of the existing B-body. This example has the non-Hemi 340 cubic-inch V8 with automatic and it is a stock example. 1971 was the only year for four headlamps. Somehow, this model series didn't sell to expectation and production slowed over the years, making the cars quite rare today. An unaltered car is even more rare.
V8 Cuda Hard Top Coupe
The writing was on the wall by 1971 for the muscle car enthusiast. With rising gas prices and skyrocketing insurance rates, the days of the overpowered and often low priced performance automobile were numbered. For the big three, it seems that the decision was made to go out with a bang, and some of the rarest and most desirable muscle cars ever to come out of the Motor City were produced.
Among the hottest is the Hemi 'Cuda, produced for a mere two model years. In 1970, it is believed that Plymouth produced just 696 Hemi 'Cuda hardtops and for 1971, a mere 118 would leave the line.
Wild colors would survive for the 1971 model year and Chrysler would lead the pack with their Hi-Impact color palate. Several eye popping colors were offered, including Sassy Grass Green as seen on this example, which is one of the rarest offerings.
In addition to the Hi-Impact paint, this 7,900 mile original features the coveted 426 cubic-inch 425 horsepower Hemi engine backed by a Pistol-grip shifted 4-speed manual transmission, the Rallye instrument cluster, elastomeric bumpers, Goodyear Polyglas GT tires, 15-inch Rallye Road wheels, billboard stipes and the outrageous Shaker fresh air induction hood scoop. This car is a prime example of what many consider the ultimate Mopar muscle machine.
V8 HardTop Coupe
When it comes to American Muscle, the Plymouth hemi 'Cuda is always at the top of the list. And when it comes to rarity and desirability, nothing compares to a 1971 Hemi ' Cuda.
No matter what make or model you may prefer, there is no disputing the visual impact of the 426 Street Hemi engine. With the massive valve covers and the huge dual quad carbs, it certainly takes top honors when it comes to intimidation. To add the outrageous FC7 in Violet, (aka Plum Crazy) paint to the mix is to take things a step beyond.
This 1971 Hemi 'Cuda exemplifies what Mopar Performance was all about in the final years of the original Muscle Car era. With a mere 107 leaving the Hamtramck, Michigan assembly plant with the Hemi engine under the shaker hood, these cars were rare even when new. This car is one of just 48 equipped with the Torqueflite automatic transmission and it also features the rare leather interior, elastomeric color keyed bumpers, power steering and power front disc brakes, a center console, the AM radio with the Dictaphone cassette recorder, tinted glass, dual color keyed mirrors and more, making it one of the highest option 1971 Hemi 'Cuda's in existence.
Of course, when new these cars were flogged not only on the street, but at the tracks throughout the country, making this example among the most sought after and valuable American muscle cars ever built.
The first series of the Barracuda was produced from 1964 through 1969, distinguished by its A-body construction. From 1970 through 1974 the second series was produced using an E-body construction.
In 1964, Plymouth offered the Barracuda as an option of the Valiant model line, meaning it wore both the Valiant and Barracuda emblems. The base offering was a 225 cubic-inch six-cylinder engine that produced with 180 horsepower. An optional Commando 273 cubic-inch eight-cylinder engine was available with a four-barrel carburetor, high-compression heads and revised cams. The vehicle was outfitted with a live rear axle and semi-elliptic springs. Unfortunately, the Barracuda was introduced at the same time, separated by only two weeks, as the Ford Mustang. The Mustang proved to be the more popular car outselling the Valiant Barracuda by a ratio of 8 to 1.
The interior was given a floor-shifter, vinyl semi-bucket seats, and rear seating. The rear seats folded down allowing ample space for cargo.
By 1967, Plymouth redesigned the Barracuda and added a coupe and convertible to the model line-up. To accommodate larger engines, the engine bay was enlarged. There were multiple engine offerings that ranged in configuration and horsepower ratings. The 225 cubic-inch six-cylinder was the base engine while the 383 cubic-inch 8-cylinder was the top-of-the-line producing 280 horsepower. That was impressive, especially considering the horsepower to weight ratio. Many chose the 340 cubic-inch eight-cylinder because the 383 and Hemi were reported to make the Barracuda nose-heavy while the 340 offered optimal handling.
In 1968 Plymouth offered a Super Stock 426 Hemi package. The lightweight body and race-tuned Hemi were perfect for the drag racing circuit. Glass was replaced with lexan, non-essential items were removed, and lightweight seats with aluminum brackets replaced the factory bench, and were given a sticker that indicated the car was not to be driven on public highways but for supervised acceleration trials. The result was a car that could run the quarter mile in the ten-second range.
For 1969 a limited number of 440 Barracudas were produced, giving the vehicle a zero-to-sixty time of around 5.6 seconds.
In 1970 the Barracuda were restyled but shared similarities to the 1967 through 1969 models. The Barracuda was available in convertible and hardtop configuration; the fastback was no longer offered. Sales were strong in 1970 but declined in the years that followed. The muscle car era was coming to a close due to the rising government safety and emission regulations and insurance premiums. Manufacturers were forced to detune their engines. The market segment was slowly shifting from muscle-cars to luxury automobiles. 1974 was the final year Plymouth offered the Barracuda. By Daniel Vaughan | Aug 2010
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