How much would you pay for a rarified piece of American muscle car history? $100,000… $200,000….gasp…$250,000? If you’re talking about the hen’s teeth Plymouth Hemi Cuda convertibles, you’re not even in the same ballpark.
On Friday night, this stunning 1970 Hemi Cuda convertible—one of only 14 built in 1970—rolled across the block at Mecum Auctions’ Monterey event and gaveled for a jaw-dropping $2.25 million. That’s big money for one of the “Elephant engine” Cudas, and it backs that cash value with quite an interesting history.
Its original owner? None other than the man who redesigned the Barracuda—John Herlitz.
Roll back the clock for a moment. Since its inception in 1964, the Barracuda had been a sportier evolution of the Plymouth Valiant compact. By the late ‘60s, Plymouth decided to shed that economy car mentality by increasing the Barracuda’s size and injecting some big-engine performance. Rather amazingly, 27-year-old designer John Herlitz was given the job of redesigning the car, and we haven’t stopped talking about his handiwork ever since.
Plymouth apparently liked his bold designs too. For his efforts, Herlitz was awarded this 1970 Hemi Cuda convertible, which had previously been an “executive demonstrator” model. As such, it came stuffed with nearly every option one could think of in 1970, including the shaker hood, A32 Super Performance Axle Package, Sure Grip differential, Rallye gauges, leather bucket seats, wood-grain steering wheel, power windows, and of course the burly 426 Hemi V8 engine.
It remains one of just nine cars to equip the automatic transmission for that year, and it’s likely one of the only Hemi Cuda convertibles to have a factory-installed luggage rack.
Undoubtedly the premier car of the night, bidding on this 1970 Hemi Cuda rocketed off to a strong start, before stalling at $2.1 million. With a little smooth negotiating, the reserve came off and the gavel banged for a tall $2.25 million a few moments later, met with a round of applause.
Photo Credit: Dan Duckworth, Mecum Auctions
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