- 426 Hemi with 4-speed and Trak Pak
- One of only 284 Hemi 4-speeds built for 1970
- Documented by Mopar expert Galen Govier
- Includes original Chrysler broadcast sheet
- Only 19,850 miles, believed original
|Vehicle:||1970 Plymouth Hemi ’Cuda|
|Number Produced:||666 (1970)|
|Original List Price:||$4,700-$5,200|
|Tune Up Cost:||$300|
|Distributor Caps:||VIN plate on the driver’s side dash|
|Engine Number Location:||Pad located on the right side of the block to the rear of the engine mount|
|Club Info:||Plymouth Barracuda Owners Club|
|Alternatives:||1970–71 Dodge Challenger Hemi, 1970-71 Plymouth ’Cuda 440+6, 1969–70 Ford Mustang Boss 429|
This car, Lot 134, sold for $173,600, including buyer’s premium, at RM Sotheby’s Phoenix, AZ, auction on January 17–18, 2019.
The Plymouth Barracuda has been in Chrysler’s stable — or should we say fish tank? — since 1964. Originally based on the compact A-body platform, it was intended to compete with the Chevy Corvair — and to beat out Ford, which was rumored to be working on a sporty Ford Falcon.
Early Barracuda fans remain loyal to the bubble window and later ’60s notchback styles, but fans of the ’70s-style models joke that if Plymouth had introduced the sleek and powerful E-body ’Cuda in 1964 before the Mustang debuted, we’d be using the term “Fishy Cars” instead of “Pony Cars.”
Ah, but Chrysler was about three years too late bringing out its long-nosed, short-decked competition to Mustang, Camaro and Trans-Am. That made it rough for Barracuda sales at the time — but it makes for a rare collector car today.
How rare? Well, there seem to be more Hemi ’Cudas around these days than there were in 1970, but most sources say 666 1970 ’Cudas were sent out in the world with the 426-ci Hemi engine under the Shaker hood. Of those, only 284 had a manual transmission, so this Tor-Red, triple-pedal car is no common ’Cuda.
Myth and muscle
Reviews of the Hemi ’Cuda in 1970 weren’t stellar — except from drag-racing rags such as Hot Rod and Car Craft, whose writers were happy to tune a test car and fit it with slicks before hitting the track.
Mainstream reviewers found the Hemi overwhelming, and struggled to get better than 14-second quarter-mile times on the skinny street tires. Plymouth was also suffering from a reputation for poor build quality at the time, and you’ll see this reflected in the reviews.
Motor Trend’s A.B. Sherman complained about the window seal, the seats and the visibility in his May 1970 write-up, and that was just in the first few paragraphs. Other reviews criticized the cost and the fuel mileage.
Yeah, bringing out a 10-mpg, $5,000 Plymouth at the start of a double-whammy fuel crisis and economic downturn pretty much guaranteed that the Hemi ’Cuda wouldn’t be around for long.
It wasn’t Plymouth’s best timing.
Here’s the thing, though. None of that matters now. Do the windows rattle in the doors? Yup, but you won’t hear it over the sound of 425 big horses and the dying squeals of reproduction Goodyear Polyglas tires.
The ’Cuda is everything muscle cars should be — bright, brutal, cartoonish and fast. You don’t have to know anything about car collecting to appreciate the good looks and great rumble of a Hemi car.
This Hemi car
There are no cheap Hemi ’Cudas, but there is a wide spread in exactly how pricey they are.
At the top are the ultra-rare 1971 convertibles. Those are the ones making headlines with multi-million-dollar sales. They made fewer than 20 of them, so you can imagine it’s hard to find a real one.
1970 drop-tops are second, also with seven-figure price tags.
Our 1970 hard top is the most common of the Hemi ’Cudas, although that’s a bit like saying that diamond studs are the most common gemstone jewelry. I still want some.
This particular fish gets a bump in price from its 4-speed transmission and accompanying “Trak Pak,” which includes the coveted and unbreakable Dana 60 rear end.
Red paint works as well on Plymouths as it does on Corvettes and Ferraris, so the high-impact Tor-Red probably didn’t hurt as it rolled across the auction block.
One performance option we don’t see on this car are the color-matched “Elastomeric” bumpers. Nothing against chrome, but the color-keyed option makes these cars even more of a stand-out. It clearly didn’t bother the buyer. I call this ’Cuda well-sold at $173,600.
(Introductory description courtesy of RM Sotheby’s.)