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Lot 434: 1970 Plymouth ‘Cuda Convertible

Collectors' Motorcars and Automobilia, Bonhams & Butterfields (15 August 2007)

The legend of the Hemi ‘Cuda convertible has spread far beyond the ranks of car collectors. It has spawned its own nomenclature. The order has been reversed, placing ‘Hemi’ before ‘Cuda’ and no one bothers to say ‘Plymouth’ any more. Some youngsters may not even know that Plymouth built the Hemi ‘Cuda. It would certainly make sense, in the context of the craze for Hemi V-8 powered cars that has swept the car collecting hobby in recent years and the recent demise of Plymouth as a manufacturer, to think that ‘Hemi’ is the manufacturer.

Be that as it may, the fourteen Hemi ‘Cuda convertibles built in 1970 have become the most talked about and avidly sought collector cars in the world. Europeans are regularly amazed that Americans will pay seven figure money for a car built on an assembly line as part of a model year run of some 55,499 units, even if there were only fourteen built in the new E-body convertible with the 426 cubic inch 425 horsepower Hemi engine under its long, wide hood and between its graceful Coke bottle-shaped fenders.

The fascination with Hemi ‘Cuda convertibles has spawned a cottage industry building ‘clones’ and ‘tributes.’ [‘Clones’ look just like the real thing. ‘Tributes’ incorporate modern features like late model crate engines, upgraded suspension and brakes and improved wheels and tires.] Some of them are very, very good, and some of them attempt to entice the gullible and unwary.

This one goes even farther than usual. The VIN stamped on the plate on the dashboard, is BS27R0B212211, the correct VIN coding for a Hemi ‘Cuda convertible. Research has developed information, however, that the correct VIN for this car is BH27G0B212211, indicating the down-market 318 cubic inch Barracuda convertible that actually emerged from Plymouth’s Hamtramck assembly plant in 1970. This clone was acquired by the most recent owner in September 2000 from Ultimate Rides in El Paso, Texas from an online auction listing which stated, “This beautifully restored ‘Cuda clone is painted B-7 Blue with deluxe black leather interior. Car is currently in paint shop, to be completed September 18. Factory correct Hemi brake booster, radiator, k-frame, carbs, and exhaust system. Correct shaker hood components, rally dash, automatic transmission, rear ‘go-wing,’ and power convertible top round out this ultimate ride.”

The presentation even goes to the extent of creating a new fender tag with the Hemi VIN.

The online description is still true today although the now seven year old paint is showing some age and perhaps a bit of expediting to make the shipping date after its purchase by the most recent owner. It also has a set of driving lights installed that were not mentioned in the auction description.

The shop that did the work, Ultimate Rides, had experience in this kind of conversion and was responsible for, among others, the ’71 Challenger convertibles better known as the ‘Nash Bridges’ cars. With its Hemi V-8, automatic, power steering and power brakes this is a Hemi ‘Cuda clone that can be taken out and driven enthusiastically without fear of ruining an irreplaceable milestone in the history of the American automobile.

Driving a Hemi ‘Cuda, and particularly a convertible, is an experience worth having.

Without reserve

Lot Details
Auction Collectors' Motorcars and Automobilia
Bonhams & Butterfields, Quail Lodge Resort & Golf Club, Carmel, California
Lot Number434
Hammer Price$70000
Hammer Price (inc premium)$81900
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