One of the most iconic vehicles of the “muscle car” era has to be the 1971 Plymouth HEMI Cuda convertible. While many would think that there would be several units produced of such an iconic model, only 12 HEMI Cuda convertibles rolled off the Hamtramck Assembly line during the 1971 model year. Of those 12 cars, 5 of them were sold outside the United States. In recent years, the HEMI Cuda convertibles have become some of the most expensive muscle cars to cross the auction block. One of which, sold at the 2014 Mecum Seattle event for $3.5 million.
Fast forward 7-years and there is another 1971 Plymouth HEMI Cuda convertible getting ready to cross the auction block at the 2021 Mecum Indy event, which kicks off this coming weekend.
This particular HEMI Cuda convertible is one of those 5 examples planned for export, to France nonetheless. As a result of the export, the car came with a special 240 KPH (150 MPH) speedometer, which shows that the car has 98,553 kilometers (or about 60,000 miles) on its odometer since rolling off the assembly line.
What makes this car so special, is the fact it was ordered as a driver’s car. This means it came equipped with the A833 HEMI 4-speed manual transmission coupled to a Dana 60 Sure Grip differential with a 3.54 final gear ratio. Checking off those options in 1971 meant the car also came with the A33 Track Pak, which gave the car a 26-inch radiator, seven-blade viscous fan, and HEMI suspension upgrades as well.
Although this Cuda doesn’t wear one of the iconic “high-impact” colors that Mopar fans have come to love over the years, it wears a handsome Winchester Gray (GA4) paint over its coke-bottled shaped body. There is also a black “Shaker” hood scoop, black vinyl top, black bucket seats, and black HEMI billboard graphics to help make this car out against the high-impact colored cars. A set of optional body-colored mirrors were also fitted to the car.
According to the history of the car, it was listed for sale in a regional American car club newsletter simply as a “1971 Grey Cuda”. Never mind the fact that it was an original HEMI car. So to no surprise when a buyer from America heard about the car, they flew to France to verify its authenticity and flown back to the United States. Not too long after arriving the car was sold to its present owner, whose collection it has been part of for the past 20 years.
The car is a still numbers-matching example (including its powertrain). With that being said, as HEMI production ended in 1971 and the type of options that are on this car, make this one expensive example of Plymouth’s past. This HEMI Cuda convertible features power steering and power-assist brakes, stuff that while we see on every car today, wasn’t readily available on most muscle cars of its time. Even those who are looking for rare collector muscle cars would be surprised to see this example with its power windows, power top, 6-way driver seat, Rallye dash, wood-trimmed interior, center console, and Hurst shifter. Shockingly, this car was ordered without the factory radio (so no antenna sticking out of the fender).
The Cuda also features several other orientate touches of chrome on the A-pillar and rear panel surround, bumper guards, factory hood pins, and the “HEMICuda” badges on the Shaker scoop. The car also came with optional 15-inch premium Rallye wheels still wrapped in Goodyear Polyglas GT F60-15 tires. Whoever purchases the car will also receive the broadcast sheet, the original French title, and other copies of the car’s import documents.
Mecum expects the car to take in somewhere between $5.75 million and $6.5 million in Indianapolis. Clearly making it the most expensive “muscle car” ever sold at auction. Some people claim that the very first Shelby Cobra 289 CSX 2000 is the most expensive American muscle car sold at auction with a price tag of $13.75 million. However, most American car enthusiasts would challenge that to say, that Shelby Cobra was a sports car, not a muscle car.
The HEMI Cuda convertible will cross the block on Friday, May 21st, and is the main attraction of the event. It will be followed by two other 1971 Plymouth Cuda models, a 440 cubic-inch 6-barrel with a 4-speed manual Tor-Red colored convertible, and a HEMI coupe with the A833 4-speed manual transmission in Sno-White paint.
To see more of the trio, you can visit the Mecum website.