What Year Cuda is Most Valuable? Look into the Plymouth HEMI

This article may contain affiliate links where we earn a commission from qualifying purchases.

With the astronomical prices that Plymouth Hemi ‘Cuda are fetching these days, we wondered what year ‘Cuda is most valuable.

The 1971 Hemi ‘Cuda Convertible with an A833 four-speed manual transmission with a Hurst pistol grip shifter handle is by far the most valuable ‘Cuda made. Only 3 of these models were made. This car went on sale in 2021 and did not sell, despite a $4.8 million high bid (the reserve was not met).

In 2007, the auto world was rocked when a ‘71 Hemi ‘Cuda convertible sold for $2.2 million. When another sold for $3.5 million a few years later, the sale sent shock waves through the world again. A couple of years ago, another ‘71 ‘Cuda was expected to sell for as high as $6.5 million. While it didn’t make its reserve, despite a $4.8 million bid, there was no question that this car was one of the rarest Hemi ‘Cudas in the world. So, what makes this year of Plymouth ‘Cuda so unique? Why would anyone pay such an excessive amount for a classic car? We wanted to find out, so we scoured our resources to get a handle on the ‘71 Plymouth Hemi ‘Cuda. And what we discovered confirmed our love for genuine muscle cars from the ‘60s and ‘70s.

Table of Contents


What Makes the ‘71 Hemi ‘Cuda Convertible So Special?

There are several reasons for the value of this extraordinary, rare muscle car. We’ve listed a few of them below.

The Production Numbers

For the 1971 model year, Plymouth produced only 6,228 'Cuda vinyl/hardtops and 374 convertibles. Of that total, only 108 units were equipped with the Hemi engine, of which only 11 were convertibles. Nine of those eleven drop-tops had automatic transmissions, and three were built with the four-speed manual. This combination makes the manual shift ‘Cuda the rarest one ever built.

The Hemi Motor

The standard engine for the ‘71 ‘Cuda was the 383 ci. V8 and about 1,867 units were manufactured with the motor (93% were hardtop models, and two-thirds were automatics).

Other engine choices were the 340 ci V8 with a 4-bbl carburetor (275 hp). According to Mopar production records, this car accounted for 3,440 models (only 140 were convertibles, the rest were hardtops, and 2,110 were automatics).

The ‘Cuda could be ordered with the 440 ci “Super Commando” V8 (called the Magnum in Dodge vehicles). The 440 V8 had a “Six-Pack” (3 - 2 bbl carbs stacked). The sales brochure from 1971 indicates that the 440 produced 385 hp, and 254 units were made with this engine (including 17 convertibles).

The Hemi accounted for 108 models and produced 425 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque. While it was the most powerful of the V8 options, it was also the most expensive. Plymouth charged around $1,000 for the upgrade. Since many owners did not want to pay the added expense (the extra cost often pushed the price of the ‘Cuda to over four thousand dollars), the 426 Hemi engine didn’t get produced very often.

Those owners who took the Hemi plunge were rewarded with one of the quickest cars on the street. As far as fast goes, the ‘71 ‘Cuda Hemi did 0 - 60 mph in a blistering 5.8 seconds and ran the quarter mile in under 14. (This would make it as fast as the Mustang and the Camaro).

Part of the Hemi mystique was due to its success on the racing circuit. By the time 1971 rolled around, the Hemi had a long history of dominating the sport. When Richard Petty won the Daytona 500 in 1971 (the third time he had won the event with a 426 Hemi) and the season title, it seemed as if no one could beat the 426 Hemi. Considering that just the year before, Buddy Baker drove a Charger Daytona (with a 426) over 200 mph indicates how great this motor truly was.

The Convertible Top

Part of the rarity of the ‘71 Hemi ‘Cuda has to do with how few convertibles were made. (Only 11 convertibles were manufactured). Although Plymouth offered a drop-top option, the 1971 salesman’s guide indicates that it was priced about $260 more than the vinyl/hardtop.

There was a general lack of interest in convertible muscle cars, and in 1971, Mopar dropped the convertible option for all Chrysler, Dodge, and Plymouth lines.

The Transmission

The rare ‘71 Hemi ‘Cuda that just went on sale and didn’t sell (for $4.8 million) has a four-speed manual transmission. The A-833 4-speed manual transmission was a sturdy unit that entered various cars and trucks in the Mopar lineup. The rugged internal components could handle a great deal of high-end torque, which made them ideal for a race off a red light or down the quarter mile at the race track.

The transmission was heavy (primarily due to the cast iron case), weighing over 120 lbs dry without the transfer case.

The Interior

Many interior features were available for owners, like power windows, power steering, Rallye wheels, Rallye instrument panel, center console, and all-vinyl bucket seats. Only three ‘Cuda convertibles were equipped with the Hurst shifter, which lends to their worth as one of the world’s most expensive muscle cars.

The Thrill Of The Drive

Most of us have never been able to drive a rare muscle car but take it from us. It’s a thrill. One of the reasons that this particular 1971 Plymouth Hemi ‘Cuda is so prevalent in people’s minds is that it epitomizes the nostalgia many people have for muscle cars. The fun of riding in a powerful car, feeling the wind whip past your face, and knowing that you are touching a piece of the muscle car era is a reason to smile. (When we purchase the next ‘71 ‘Cuda, we’ll take you all for a ride).