An exceptionally rare and original 1971 Plymouth Hemi ’Cuda 4-speed convertible soared to a record-breaking sale with a winning bid of $3.5 million Saturday at Mecum’s first Seattle auction.
In about eight minutes of heated phone bidding, with the seller standing on stage and holding fast to his reserve price, the authentically restored muscle car sold for the highest price ever for a ’71 Hemi ’Cuda. Mecum claims that the sale makes it “the world’s most-expensive Mopar.”
The $3.5 million high bid does not include the buyer’s auction fees.
Among the most sought-after muscle cars, this ’Cuda reigns as a blue-chip icon, one of only four factory-built convertibles equipped with 4-speed stickshift delivered in the U.S. It is documented as the only remaining matching-numbers example in existence.
Recent sales of ’71 Hemi ’Cuda convertibles show an average value for pristine-condition originals at $2 million, according Hagerty Insurance’s Cars That Matter valuation guide. But the rarity of this car’s factory equipment puts it out in front of the pack.
The car is powered by its original 426cid, 425-horsepower Hemi V8, and the ’Cuda’s factory broadcast sheet shows that it was equipped at the Hamtramck, Michigan, assembly plant with the New Process 4-speed transmission, Dana 60 rear end with 4.10 Super Track Pak, 26-inch radiator and power brakes.
The car also has a colorful history, adding to its allure. It was owned by famed Southwest cartoonist Russ Meyer, who sold it to an Oregon buyer. Later, the muscle car was seized by authorities there as part of a drug bust and sold at auction for $405,000, an unprecedented figure at the time.
The ’Cuda convertible was completely restored in its original Bright Blue with matching interior and black convertible-top in 2000 by Mopar expert Julius Steuer of Los Angeles. The car retains its original appearance with painted steel wheels, dog-dish hub caps and white-letter tires. The rare Shaker hood is held down by chrome pins, and the dashboard includes the desirable Rallye Instrument Cluster.
The ’Cuda was among about 600 collector cars, trucks and motorcycles auctioned off Friday and Saturday during Mecum Auctions’ inaugural sale at the CenturyLink Field Event Center in Seattle.
For a Mecum Auctions video of the Hemi ’Cuda convertible sale, see ’Cuda bidding.