Introduced alongside the Ford Mustang in 1964, the Plymouth Barracuda developed into a fully-fledged muscle in 1970. That’s when Chrysler introduced the E-body version, graced by an aggressive appearance and available with Mopar’s greatest big-block V8 engines.
Unfortunately, then-new emission regulations forced high-performance engines into extinction. Chrysler discontinued the 426-cubic-inch (7.0-liter) HEMI and the 440-cubic-inch (7.2-liter) RB after the 1971 model year. As a result, Plymouth Barracudas equipped with these powerplants are rare and desirable.
The HEMI version is the most sought-after of the two. The company sold only 666 examples in 1970, followed by only 114 units in 1971. The convertibles are even rarer, with just 14 ordered in 1970 and only seven shipped in 1971. The drop-tops are worth millions of dollars in restored or unmolested condition, but only if you’re lucky enough to find one for sale.
But a third-gen Cuda doesn’t necessarily need a HEMI mill to stand out as a rare classic. The 440 V8 is also scarce compared to the 383-cubic-inch (6.3-liter) or the small-block V8s offered at the time. The four-barrel version was used in only 986 cars, while the six-barrel variant powered 1,784 units in 1970.
The former was discontinued in 1971, while the latter found its way in only 254 cars. If we eliminate the 17 convertibles included in this run, we’re left with just 237 hardtops. The purple example you see here is one of those cars.
Not rare enough to compete with a million-dollar HEMI? Well, it depends on how we look at the figures. Because while it may be a one-of-237 car at first glance, this Cuda comes with a Galen Govier certificate that confirms it’s a one-of-one gem when all of its production features are considered.
For starters, it’s one of only 45 hardtops fitted with the 440 six-barrel and an automatic gearbox. The presence of an AM/FM radio reduces that number to 18, while the FC7 paint turns in into a one-of-10 vehicle. Finally, the power windows, the options, and the trim combine into a unique setup. Making things that much more spectacular, this Mopar rocks a numbers-matching drivetrain and a Concours-ready restoration. It’s also a relatively low-mileage car with only 64,437 miles (103,701 km) on the odometer.
However, not everything you see on it is factory original. The shaker hood, the rear spoiler, and the white rear fender billboards were added during the restoration. All three items are period correct and can be seen on other 440 cars, but radical gearheads will probably argue that the person who restored it should have kept it all original. But needless to say, the Plum Crazy finish works great with the white billboards. And yes, I know that purple was called In-Violet on Plymouth cars, but Dodge’s Plum Crazy is a much nicer color name.
Anyway, this 1-of-1 Mopar is currently up for auction with bidding at $85,100 with three days to go. But the reserve hasn’t been met, and the seller claims he’s “testing the interest” on this restored Cuda. This likely means the reserve is set very high for the time being. For reference, 1971 Cudas in perfect condition usually fetch more than $130,000, but some examples cross the auction block for more than $200,000. As of 2023, the most expensive 1971 Cuda ever auctioned, a 440-6 convertible, went for $962,500.