- Sold new at Goddard Motors Inc. in Jennings, MO
- Rare Mod Top vinyl roof covering and interior, one of 937 produced
- Previously used as a dealer demonstrator, Y13 on fender tag
- 340/275-hp V8 engine
- 4-barrel carburetor
- Dual exhaust with chrome tips
- TorqueFlite automatic transmission
- A53 Formula S Package
- Floral bucket seats with center console
- Factory air conditioning and heat
- Copy of original window sticker
- From the Steven Juliano Collection
|Vehicle:||1969 Plymouth Barracuda Mod Top|
|Years Produced:||1969, 1970 (Mod Top)|
|Number Produced:||937 (1969 Mod Top)|
|Original List Price:||$2,813 (base)|
|Tune Up Cost:||$200|
|Chassis Number Location:||Plate on dash, driver’s side|
|Engine Number Location:||Machined face on front of block, partial VIN on pan rail|
|Alternatives:||1969 Plymouth Satellite Mod Top, 1969 Dodge Dart Swinger 340 Mod Top, 1969 Plymouth Super Bee Mod Top|
This car, Lot F133, sold for $440,000, including buyer’s premium, at Mecum’s sale in Indianapolis, IN, on May 17, 2019.
By the late 1960s, pop-culture television was full of flower power television shows such as “The Mod Squad” and “Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In.” Celebrities smoked cigarettes and donned slick black suits or crazy colorful psychedelic outfits.
Chrysler executives, along with their ad agency (think “Mad Men”), decided to try and make hay while the sun was shining. Their answer was a series of “Mod Top” cars that would be blessed (or cursed) upon more than a few of the Dodge or Plymouth models.
The tops and interiors looked like they could have been stolen right out of Jo Anne Worley’s “Laugh-In” wardrobe (look it up, you’ll see — put on sunglasses first). Some enthusiasts call them shower-curtain tops. No matter how you define it, the cars were anything but subtle and about as masculine as a dude wearing mascara.
Isn’t that a typo?
My immediate instinct on this car was that it sold for $44,000 — not $440,000. I assumed Mecum had made a mistake in the published results. Easy error. Simple fix. Nope, the price was right.
Was it so special and so rare that it warranted a lunar-landing sale price? Mopar forums were on fire with discussions about the final sale price. One commenter said he was told there were some gold bars hidden away in the chassis. Another suggested the buyer might have spent too much time listening to Cheech and Chong albums.
While our subject car is certainly interesting, and somewhat rare, it really isn’t much more than that. It’s cool in a very 1960s retro way. I get the vibe the car projects and how that part of our American culture is important to our history. Wild, free, Woodstock, Hendrix, Dylan, etc. But as a collectible car — one that sold for $440,000, mind you — I just can’t connect the bright, colorful dots.
Hooking the big fish
Auctions, unlike any other sales venue, can occasionally send a sale price through the roof. Some sellers get lucky when two determined “big fish” bidders decide to go at it, each diligently and aggressively determined not to lose — at nearly any cost. For them, it becomes more about winning than buying something.
“The auction estimate of $50k–$70k was a bit aggressive, but this car had a ton of originality, plus very high option content, including factory air conditioning,” said Mecum’s John Kraman. “It simply came down to two serious collectors who wanted what might very well be the finest Mod Top in existence. This sale was certainly one of the best bidder battles in Mecum Auctions’ long history!”
I also spoke with Julie Moore, who is the curator of the Mod Top registry. She was well versed in our subject car and had seen it at the Mopar Nationals in 1996. She did relay to me that the car was somewhat rare, but not terribly so. She stated that there are currently about 20 1969 Barracudas in the registry with the 340 engine (out of 100 registered). She did suggest that our subject car was likely more desirable given its originality, low miles and connection to the seller. And, get this — back in 2006, it failed to sell on eBay Motors with a high bid of $19,500.
She also commented, “In my experience over the 20-plus years of curating the Mod Top Registry, the Mod Tops don’t really sell for much more than a non-Mod Top car. It’s a love ’em or hate ’em car — and judging from the small buyer’s market, most hate ’em. Who wants a car with a shower-curtain top and interior?”
Rare twice over
As reported, this was a highly original example with original factory paint, interior and drivetrain, and with low documented miles. Add to that the scarcity of a 1969 Mod Top 340 Barracuda and the fact that it’s all-original and you get rare on top of rare.
The fact that it came from the Steven Juliano Collection is icing on the cake. Cars from his collection were the pick-of-the-litter examples. The fact that he chose this car to add to his collection speaks volumes to its quality.
From a condition standpoint, the car is very nice, but in an original way. That means we expect to see wear and deterioration that coincides with the age of the car. If I were in the field reporting on the car, I’d likely consider it a good #3 example given the photos presented.
Time and time again, I’ve seen an all-original important car sell for #1 trailer-queen money, so it’s no surprise here that the car sparked a bunch of interest on the auction block.
A fish out of water
Will this sale give the Mod Top market a bump? Perhaps, but if it does, it will be very short lived.
To say this sale result of $440,000 was wildly over-the-top wouldn’t be a strong enough statement. For all you guys out there with a cool, groovy, shower-curtain Mod Top 340 Barracuda squirreled away in your garage, let’s hope you can find the underbidder here. Do you dig it? Far out, dude. That’s a lot of dough. Translation: Great car, but amazingly, stupendously well sold.
(Introductory description courtesy of Mecum Auctions.)