Presented by Mecum Auctions - There are multiple terms that have defined what many consider to be the true “ultimate” American muscle car, the 1971 Plymouth Hemi Cuda convertible. We all know that “rare,” ”desirable,” ”final-year” and “incredible” are words far more common than those cars will ever be. It is when you add things like “export,” “metric odometer,” ”one-of-one” and “same owner for over two decades” that even the most serious buyers begin to give it their full attention.
Well-known in the Mopar hobby, this particular car is unique in so many ways that it becomes a challenge to know where to begin to describe it. Perhaps it’s best to start on the assembly line at Hamtramck, Michigan. There were only to be 12 Hemi Cuda convertibles emerging from the plant during that model year, with five of those slated for non-U.S. destinations. This car was destined for France, and as a result of heading to Europe, it came with the special export 240 KPH speedometer, which today shows a metric odometer reading of 98,553 kilometers (approximately 60,000 miles) since new. The driveline selected was for a deliberate driver, with the A833 Hemi 4-speed manual transmission coupled to a Dana 60 Sure Grip differential with a 3.54 final gear ratio. That combination denoted the A33 Track Pak, which gave the car a 26-inch radiator, seven-blade viscous fan and Hemi suspension upgrades as well.
The paint selected was not one of the highly visible colors available but instead a refined Winchester Gray, Code GA4, coupled with the black Shaker scoop, V3X black top, H6X9 black bucket-seat interior and black billboard graphics. The optional outside mirrors are painted body color, and the noteworthy 1971 Cuda trim—cheese-grater grille, front fender inserts, ‘Cuda emblems, chrome rocker moldings, and through-valance bright exhaust tips—are also on this car. We can still imagine it parked in the VIP paddock at Le Mans or running along the coast at Monaco, turning heads among the café set as something much too brutal for its environment. Perhaps first owner Jean Teyssier of France made an impression like this after the car was delivered.
The history of this Hemi convertible became more visible when it was listed for sale in a regional American car club newsletter as simply a “1971 Grey Cuda,” with nothing stating it being a Hemi model. At that time, 1993, these cars had already begun to showcase themselves as the upper echelon of American production muscle cars. A buyer in America called the number, got some details and purchased it after a flight to France verified its authenticity. After arriving, it was eventually sold as-received to the present owner, in whose personal collection it has resided for 20 years, and it is mechanically sound enough he has been known to drive it on occasion.
The originality of this car includes its driveline. Rather than reintroduce you to the 426 Hemi engine, the fact it is still numbers-matching makes this car quite unique. The Hemi was in its final year of production in 1971, but it retained virtually all of the performance components that had made it such a street legend. With a Hurst Pistol grip in the grasp of a determined driver, this combination could swing that metric speedometer far to the right, likely past where the numerals “200 KM” were positioned. Power steering and power-assist brakes helped keep any such endeavor a bit more manageable, but let’s be frank: this car was not built to be tamed.
Inside, driver and riders benefited from power windows, with the power top and six-way driver’s seat also at the fingertips of the pilot. Interestingly, no radio was ordered, so there is no antennae mount on the fender here. The Rallye dash has functional gauging including the factory N85 tachometer. The vinyl buckets are the high-back versions, the Hurst shifter is mounted in a C16 console and the wood-grain trim design is applied to the dash, console, door panels and three-spoke sport steering wheel.
In addition to the other trim mentioned earlier, touches of chrome brightwork are found on the A-pillar and rear panel surround, the bumper guards, hood pins and the Hemi ’Cuda callouts on the Shaker scoop. This car came with the premium Rallye wheels wearing Goodyear Polyglas GT F60-15 tires.
Finally, a car like this is always further benefited with provenance, which here consists of the broadcast sheet, an original French title and copies of import documents.
There is a limited number of people who can own the exclusivity of a real Hemi Cuda convertible, and just one will be this car’s caretaker when this opportunity concludes. So, if the words “rare,” ”desirable,” ”final-year” and “incredible” are more than simply phonetics in your world, owning this very special export Hemi E-body convertible could leave those around you speechless.
This Plymouth Hemi Cuda Convertible will be auctioned off during Mecum Auctions' Indy 2021 event, which runs May 14-22.