Authenticity. Documentation. Veracity. Call it what you will, but few things get muscle car collectors going quite like verifiable, real-deal examples of the truly elite, low-production cars that were rare even when new. And of that class of muscle cars, the 1971 Plymouth Hemi ‘Cuda stand out as exceptionally elite. Only 107 hardtops were produced for the U.S. market that year, like this example now up for bids at Hemmings Auctions.
Across the muscle car landscape, 1971 was the beginning of the end. Except, that is, for the Mopar E-Body. As Jeff Koch put it in the June 2019 issue of Hemmings Muscle Machines
ven in its own time, a Hemi E-body was a throwback. Broad-shouldered and squat-stanced, the ‘Cuda/Challenger siblings were the last of the muscle era cars to be styled with a T-square instead of a French curve. As earth tones crept into Detroit’s paint palette, the sassily named High-Impact colors (“Citron Yella,” “Tor-Red,” “Sassy Grass Green,” “Plum Crazy,” et. al.) demanded that even grave men, near death, who see with blinded sight, take notice. But that was just style. The Hemi remained an undiluted performance prospect. In a hesitant new world of eight-point-something compression ratios, the Hemi proudly retained its 10.25:1 squish. In an era when Detroit was facing a life of two-barrel carburetors, the Hemi had two carburetors. Four barrels each, thank you. At a time when high-lift camshafts were quietly being tamed, the lift and duration on the Hemi’s hydraulic grind remained stout.
All that fanfare didn’t make the Hemi ‘Cuda popular, of course, which today means the ones that survived have turned in to blue-chip collectables. There are other rare muscle cars, of course, but few combine that scarcity with sheer street-pounding horsepower