Extremely Rare 1971 Plymouth 426 Hemi ‘Cuda Convertible

Some of the most sought-after collector cars are the drop-tops from the muscle car era. The primary reason muscle car convertibles are so valuable today is that very few were ever even made. In 1971 the Chrysler assembly line churned out a minuscule number of Plymouth 426 Hemi ‘Cuda convertibles; 12 to be exact. One True Blue-colored ‘Cuda from that batch appears in the book Wide-Open Muscle: The Rarest Muscle Car Convertibles. Enjoy the history and details of this magnificent example of “wretched excess”.

muscle cars, muscle car convertibles, Wide-Open Muscle, Randy Leffingwell, Ford, GM, Chrysler, GTO, Mustang, Camaro, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Dodge, Barracuda, Charger, Corvette Stingray, AMC,
1971 Plymouth 426 Hemi ‘Cuda Convertible

It’s one of twelve Hemi ‘Cuda convertibles from the entire 1971 model year. Total. Two of those went to Canada, and three others went overseas. So this was one of seven for the US. It was one of four ordered and assembled with the Hurst shifter four-speed manual transmission, of which only two went to buyers in the States. And crazily enough, both of those were painted this same True Blue exterior color with blue vinyl interiors, just as in the car shown here. But only this one has the white top. Oh, and only this one incorporated the new impact-absorbing elastomeric front bumper in body color.

muscle cars, muscle car convertibles, Wide-Open Muscle, Randy Leffingwell, Ford, GM, Chrysler, GTO, Mustang, Camaro, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Dodge, Barracuda, Charger, Corvette Stingray, AMC, The man responsible for such discrimination was Ronald Ambach. Plymouth Division manufactured his car in February 1971, and Ambach took delivery in St. Louis. He kept it until the fall, when Nick Masciarelli bought it and took it home to Ohio. Masciarelli’s intention was to race it in Stock Eliminator class. Even before his first race, he hauled the car up to Detroit where engine-builder Tom Tignanelli, the “Woodward Garage builder” and accomplished racer, pulled the original stock engine out and fitted one of his race-ready competition Hemis under the hood. Tignanelli had worked with Don Garlits and his ‘71 Challenger and ‘72 Barracuda, the popular Motown Missile. (When a certain record company in the Detroit area raised its hand to remind everyone of copyrights and trademarks, the racers renamed everything “Mopar” Missile.)

muscle cars, muscle car convertibles, Wide-Open Muscle, Randy Leffingwell, Ford, GM, Chrysler, GTO, Mustang, Camaro, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Dodge, Barracuda, Charger, Corvette Stingray, AMC,

muscle cars, muscle car convertibles, Wide-Open Muscle, Randy Leffingwell, Ford, GM, Chrysler, GTO, Mustang, Camaro, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Dodge, Barracuda, Charger, Corvette Stingray, AMC,

muscle cars, muscle car convertibles, Wide-Open Muscle, Randy Leffingwell, Ford, GM, Chrysler, GTO, Mustang, Camaro, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Dodge, Barracuda, Charger, Corvette Stingray, AMC,

muscle cars, muscle car convertibles, Wide-Open Muscle, Randy Leffingwell, Ford, GM, Chrysler, GTO, Mustang, Camaro, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Dodge, Barracuda, Charger, Corvette Stingray, AMC, Masciarelli ran the car until May 1973 when he sold it to John Book and John Oliverio. They raced east coast and mid-Atlantic tracks out of their home state of West Virginia. During this period, the car gained a new identity, the “Mountain Mopar,” complete with gold-leaf decals. At the end of 1974, Book and Oliverio retired the car to climate-controlled storage near their shops where it remained protected but unchanged. According to notes prepared for this car by RMAuctions in 2007, Book and Oliverio sold the car to the Painter Brothers in 1989, and not too long later, they passed it along to food service company owner Milt Robson for his collection in Georgia. The car still was an “as-raced” time capsule. Robson, whose collection Sports Car Digest described as a “careful and meticulous acquisition by [a] lifelong enthusiast and noted collector,” gave the car a complete and careful restoration in his own shops, saving the car’s original interior and using the original or new-old-stock (NOS) parts for other details of the restoration, based on verified build sheets. His staff built the Hemi engine around a correctly date-coded NOS Chrysler block from January 19, 1970. Barracudas came in three distinct trim levels: the Barracuda (Six or V-8), the Gran Coupe, and the ‘Cuda. Each had specific features making restoration an even more demanding task.

muscle cars, muscle car convertibles, Wide-Open Muscle, Randy Leffingwell, Ford, GM, Chrysler, GTO, Mustang, Camaro, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Dodge, Barracuda, Charger, Corvette Stingray, AMC,

muscle cars, muscle car convertibles, Wide-Open Muscle, Randy Leffingwell, Ford, GM, Chrysler, GTO, Mustang, Camaro, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Dodge, Barracuda, Charger, Corvette Stingray, AMC, After completing the restoration in the early 1990s, Robson showed the car from time to time in local events around Atlanta. When it was not out earning spectator envy, it remained in Robson’s climate-controlled collection that eventually reached 54 cars.

The data plates on this car resemble an NSA cryptographer’s code sequence, an enigma to those without the proper clearance: N41 N42 N96 R35 EN2 L25 L31 M25 MB1 M88 C16 C55 G11 G33 J25…and the list continues through another dozen or more alphanumerics sliding to a halt with the E74 dual four-barrel 426 CID Hemi, followed by the D21 heavy-duty four-speed Hurst shifter manual transmission. The codes enumerate the Shaker Hood, power steering, power brakes, AM-FM radio, a 4.10:1 Dana “Super Track Pack” 60-percent lock differential, white cloth top, and the unusual and uncommon A21 “colored bumper” on the car’s front end.

muscle cars, muscle car convertibles, Wide-Open Muscle, Randy Leffingwell, Ford, GM, Chrysler, GTO, Mustang, Camaro, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Dodge, Barracuda, Charger, Corvette Stingray, AMC,

muscle cars, muscle car convertibles, Wide-Open Muscle, Randy Leffingwell, Ford, GM, Chrysler, GTO, Mustang, Camaro, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Dodge, Barracuda, Charger, Corvette Stingray, AMC, It’s clear that RMAuction’s catalog writer understood what this car was all about in the notes published before the January 2007 sale: “Putting a free-breathing high-rpm engine like the 426 Hemi in a lithe, frisky chassis like the ‘Cuda was exactly what the forces of political correctness inveighed against in the early 1970s.” The writer quickly got up to speed: “There is nothing politically correct, nothing socially responsible about a Hemi ‘Cuda. The 1971 Plymouth Hemi ‘Cuda convertible is wretched excess in a nearly unimaginably limited production package.” And what muscle car enthusiast wouldn’t want the burden of a little wretched excess in their garage?

muscle cars, muscle car convertibles, Wide-Open Muscle, Randy Leffingwell, Ford, GM, Chrysler, GTO, Mustang, Camaro, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Dodge, Barracuda, Charger, Corvette Stingray, AMC,

muscle cars, muscle car convertibles, Wide-Open Muscle, Randy Leffingwell, Ford, GM, Chrysler, GTO, Mustang, Camaro, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Dodge, Barracuda, Charger, Corvette Stingray, AMC, At that auction, the buyer came up with a significant number. But then, not too long ago, the blue/blue twin added a cool million dollars onto the price this buyer paid. And that one’s sold, done, gone. Unreachable.

But—not that this one is available—if your fantasy is “wretched excess” in your garage, where does your fantasy put this one?

 

Buy from an Online Retailer

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Climb inside these stunning muscle car drop-tops, straight from the classic era of American high-performance cars!

Today’s rarest, priciest, and most highly sought-after muscle cars are also the least practical. These are the striking convertibles of the 1960s and 1970s that were optioned out for drag racing. Wide-Open Muscle showcases these rare cars and proves that sometimes it pays to throw practicality out the window in order to make something purely cool and fun to drive.

At the peak of drag racing popularity, it was common knowledge that racers needed the lightest, most rigid-framed cars available. Convertibles represent the exact opposite of that description, so it’s amazing that these drop tops ever emerged amid the circle of full-throttle dragsters. While typical convertible drivers cruised around listening to the latest Lovin’ Spoonful release in the eight-track tape deck, these muscle-car convertibles were equipped for rock ‘n’ roll speed. These topless muscle cars are so rare because few people had the dedication (or money) to buy a vehicle this impractical. They’re valuable because they represent the absolute extreme of the entire muscle-car genre.

All the cars in Wide-Open Muscle are shot in similar fashion, studio-style with a black background using a process known as light painting. It is the ultimate portrayal of the ultimate muscle cars.