Plymouth muscle car fetches $3.78 million at auction

1971 Plymouth Hemi Cuda Convertible

The Chrysler name has taken a beating in recent years, between the automaker declaring bankruptcy, being bailed out by the US government and choosing to discontinue such venerable lines as Plymouth.

While sales have rebounded over the past few years, proof of just how high automaker once flew was evident this past weekend when a Chrysler muscle car from more than 40 years ago sold for $3.78 million.

A rare 1971 Plymouth Hemi Cuda convertible fetched one of the top prices ever for a muscle car June 14 at Mecum’s Seattle auction.

The $3.78 million figure makes the ’71 Plymouth the most valuable Chrysler product ever sold. The final total included an 8 percent commission for Mecum.

The Hemi Cuda was one of only two built for the US that year with a 4-speed manual transmission and a 425-hp big-block V-8 engine. Of the two, the bright blue beast sold Saturday is the only one with its original motor, according to Mecum’s.

Chrysler made just 11 Hemi Cuda convertibles in all in 1971.

1971 Plymouth Hemi Cuda Convertible 2Muscle cars – the name attached to high-performance automobiles – came into prominence in the 1950s and ‘60s, with the major American automakers all producing their version of souped-up cars with powerful engines.

The segment was ultimately waylaid by rising insurance rates, the OPEC-inspired fuel crisis of the 1970s, which drove up gasoline prices, and the Clean Air Act.

According to Mecum’s, the car in question was purchased new by a “famous cartoonist” who later sold it to someone in Oregon. A few years later, however, it was confiscated in a drug bust and ended up at a police auction in 1999, where it went for the then-astonishing price of $410,000, according to Fox News.

(Photos show the 1971 Plymouth Hemi Cuda convertible that sold this past weekend for $3.78 million.)

8 thoughts on “Plymouth muscle car fetches $3.78 million at auction

  1. I’ll put my hand up and freely admit I’m a petrol head, the thought of the prices commanded by all the cars we treated terribly and hooned about in in our misspent youth makes me wish we’d looked after them better!

    Luckily I don’t have to beat myself up too badly, I’d be crying into my cereal if any of them was worth millions now. I’m not loving the blue wheels though. If that was my car I’d have horribly devalued it by changing them…. 😉

    • Yes, I wasn’t crazy about the blue rims, either.

      I still kick myself about all the ’50s cars I used to see still driving around Northern California when I was in high school – Oldsmobiles, Studebakers, Buicks, even Hudsons. The problem is, I would have driven them into the ground.

      I had a couple of friends who bought early ’70s muscle cars and did just that – completely ruined them – so perhaps it’s better I didn’t get my hands on something old with a lot of power. It probably wouldn’t have ended well.

      • A quick interwebs showed me a picture of a purple one with purple rims. Just as yuck. The same search showed me a photo which immediately devalued the whole model though…. The 1971 cuda convertible was the Brady Bunch car. 😦

        1971 was a good year for muscle cars, the ultimate Aussie muscle car is an XY GTHO Phase III, all the more valuable because so few of them weren’t wrecked. Even the mock-up versions are worth far more today than a real one was originally!

      • Wow – great video! Imagine being offered – and turning down – four spectacular brand-new Porches!

        Yeah, the connection with the Cuda convertible and the Brady Bunch kind of ruins some of the mystique for me, too.

      • For that price I imagine the cuda could be exchanged for the entire dealership! 😀

        I know many people who wouldn’t exchange that GTHO for any amount of money, the Man and I included. Of course the insurance premiums might make driving it out of the question…. 😉

        The XY is a great car, we’ve had a few over the years and with that flat bonnet it is a bit like driving a huge super powered dining table that handles like a sports car. Parking is an issue though, as the horn is a strip that runs around the inside of the steering wheel. As you haul it into a car spot you seem quite the attention seeker, “beep-turn turn-bip beeeep-turn-beep-turn” 😀

  2. Just to clarify, the XYs we had were base model Falcons worth rather than million dollar top of the range beasts! 😀 (if only!)

  3. What a gorgeous car (so is the GTHO, actually).

    You know what’s most surprising about this to me? That a Cuda convertible fetches top dollar at a Seattle Mecum auction, of all places. Seems akin to selling bikinis in Juneau, no? 😀

    • Interesting point – although I suppose there’s a lot of high-tech money in the Seattle area. I suppose there’s no guarantee that the buyer is from the Seattle area, but my first choices would have been California, Florida or New York for buyers of high-performance muscle cars.

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