However, the glory was short-lived. As new emission and fuel economy regulations tightened their grip on the automotive industry, Chrysler axed the 426 HEMI and the “Six Pack” 440 RB variant by the close of 1971.
This abrupt change, coupled with already soaring insurance rates for high-performance engines, transformed the third-generation HEMI ‘Cuda into a rare and sought-after classic.
While Plymouth sold nearly 49,000 Barracudas in 1970, a mere 666 boasted the formidable 426 HEMI. In 1971, sales plunged to 16,492 units, with only 114 HEMI cars produced.
The convertible iteration is undeniably the most elusive, with just 14 units sold in 1970 and a scant seven in 1971. While the former now command over $1 million, the latter’s value exceeds $3 million. In 2021, one of only two four-speed manual models astonishingly failed to sell despite a staggering high bid of $4.8 million!
While the coupe version doesn’t fetch such astronomical sums, 1971 models (of which 107 were made) are gradually inching toward the coveted seven-figure mark.
The stunning GY9 Tawny Gold example featured here—one of only 48 HEMI automatics built that year—could soon join the exclusive $1-million club.
What justifies its remarkable value beyond mere rarity, you wonder? This classic car boasts the whole package. Preserving its highly original state, it proudly displays all factory-made body panels and is a numbers-matching gem, featuring both the 426 HEMI V8 and Torqueflite automatic transmission.
Furthermore, it has been under the care of the same owner since 1974 (an impressive 49 years as of 2023) and is a veritable low-mileage treasure, clocking in at just 12,035 miles (19,368 km).
Adding to its allure, this beauty comes equipped with the A36 Performance Axle Package and sports a truly unique livery. Originally finished in Tawny Gold, custom stripes were added to create a distinctive two-tone appearance.
While some ‘Cuda purists might balk at the concept, the condition of the stripes implies they were applied in the 1970s, suggesting the Tawny Gold paint may be original. Moreover, GY9 is a rare sight among ‘Cuda colors.
Slated for auction at Indy 2023 (May 12-20), the HEMI ‘Cuda is yet to receive an auction estimate but will be offered with no reserve. If it reaches the $1-million milestone, it will become the second HEMI-powered Coupe to do so.
The last instance occurred in 2016 when a gray, unrestored model boasting a documented ownership history and a four-speed manual traded hands for $1.045 million. While a seven-figure sum could be a tall order, this exceptional ‘Cuda should easily command upwards of $500,000.