The 1971 Plymouth Hemi ‘Cuda: A Tribute To American History  

971 Plymouth Hemi ‘Cuda

The 1971 Plymouth Hemi ‘Cuda, is a third generation Barracuda. The 1970 redesign eliminated any superficial relationship previous generations had with the Valiant. The third generation model consisted of only coupe and convertibles, removing the fastback design all together. This revolutionary model was the vision of John E. Herlitz, and was constructed on a broader but shorter version of the B platform, or E-Body, produced by Chrysler. At the time, the newly introduced Dodge Challenger, shared the E-Body B platform, yet the Barracuda remained unique in its wheelbase that was around 51 mm shorter than the Challenger.

With the third generation redesign the Barracuda was no longer married to the “economy car” stigma that previous generations endured. The birth of the E-Body Barracuda was followed by the luxury Gran Coupe and the sporty ‘Cuda models, as well as a low-end model known as the Barracuda Coupe, with a fixed rear passenger window in place of the roll-down version.

The name ‘Cuda was used to refer to the high-performance models, which became a trend in 1969. In fact, the 1970 Plymouth Hemi ‘Cuda was raced from 1970 to 1973 by the Chrysler France works team. This may have been due to the fact that between 1970-1971 the standard Barracuda came available with one of two 6-cylinder engines – the new 3.2L modified version of the Slant-6, and the 225. In addition to the 6-cylinder options, there were three V8 engine options – the 318, the 383 with a 2-barrel carburetor, or the 383 with a 4-barrel carburetor. Upgraded engines in the Barracuda included the 440 4-barrel (also known as the Super Commando), the 440 6-barrel ( popularly known as the Super Commando Six Pak), and the much loved 426 Hemi. These upgrades also included a revamped suspension and structural underpinnings.

Yet the Barracuda was about more than power. Additional options included decals, modifications to the hood, and high-impact colors (Lemon Twist, Curious Yellow, Sassy Grass, Tor Red, and vitamin C, to name a few).

In 1971, the Barracuda underwent additional but small changes. Notably, the 1971 model was fitted with a new sleeker grill and redesigned taillights, while the seats and trim were changed to add to the powerful presence of an instant American Classic. 1971 was also the only year that the Barracuda featured the popular design of four headlights, and slick fender gills on the ‘Cuda model.

Today, the 1971 Hemi ‘Cuda convertible is one of the most treasured vintage muscle cars in the US, and collectors are willing to spend high amounts on those that remain in pristine condition. Only thirteen convertible models were built, and seven of those thirteen were domestic sales. In June 2014, at Seattle’s Mecum auction, blue on blue 4-speed auctioned at $3.5 million US.


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