1971 Plymouth

"Hemi Cuda"

Configuration: Longitudinal front engine

Engine: Hemi V8

Displacement: 426cid/6.98L

Horsepower: 425hp at 5,000RPM

Torque: 490 ft-lbs at 4,000RPM

Transmission: 4-speed manual

A Little History

The Plymouth ‘Cuda was the third generation of the Plymouth Barracuda, originally introduced in 1964. With Ford set to release its Mustang midway through the year, and Chevrolet already having found years of success in the Corvette, Plymouth came up with its own “Pony Car.” Drawing from the expected performance of the Mustang in combination with the looks of the Corvette, Plymouth hoped to have major success on its hands. They took the rear end of the Mustang and combined it with the rear windshield of the Corvette to create their own “Pony Car” look. Clearly, Plymouth was unconcerned with the unoriginal appearance of the car, so long as it performed and sold well. In fact, they were so unconcerned with originality that Plymouth advertised the new Barracuda to be an extension of their Valiant line, a moderately successful compact car.

While the second generation of the Barracuda had started to become slightly more individualized, it was still largely based off of the Valiant line. The Barracuda wasn’t taken seriously as a muscle car until a run of 50 cars were sent to Hurst Performance in 1969 to be prepped for the NHRA and SCCA race season. All 50 cars were equipped with the 426cid Hemi engine, the first ever from Plymouth, fitted with largely fiberglass bodies to lighten their loads, and completely illegal on the streets.

By the time the third generation of Barracudas was released, they had finally made a name for themselves in the muscle car world. The ‘Cudas hadn’t, however, created their own unique bodystle. In fact, they shared the same E-body platform as the recently released Dodge Challenger. The Plymouth Barracuda was sold with the same body as the Dodge Challenger from 1970-1974, but was offered with six different engine choices: a 340cid, a 383cid, a 440cid Magnum, a 440cid six-barrel, and the 426cid Hemi. Only the more performance-oriented models were sold as “‘Cudas.”

To demonstrate the power and prowess of the new ‘Cudas, Plymouth hired Dan Gurney’s All American Racers to prepare and race two ‘Cudas at Leguna Seca. The cars were driven by Dan Gurney at the SCCA Trans Am Championships against the Camaro, the Mustang, the Javelin, and even the Dodge Challenger.

Did You Know?

  • There were only 7 1971 Hemi ‘Cuda Convertibles with 4-speed manual transmissions ever made. The cost of the options was just too much for the average spender in the era. The most recent sale of one of these models was at Mecum Auctions at Pebble Beach, 2015. It sold for $2,250,000.00.
  • The fender “gills” were only found on the ’71 model. They were meant to look like fish gills because of its name.
  • A Plymouth executive wanted to name the 1964 Barracuda model the Plymouth Panda.
  • The wrap-around rear windshield on the ’64 Barracuda is the heaviest piece of glass ever installed on a car, weighing in at just about 150 lbs.
  • ‘Cudas were only painted with the Hemi decal when boasting a Hemi engine. All other displacements were notated by ID tags on the rear spoiler.

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