HomeThe MarketBreaking News: Hemi ’Cuda convertible scores record $3.5 million winning bid at...

Breaking News: Hemi ’Cuda convertible scores record $3.5 million winning bid at Mecum auction in Seattle


The ’71 Hemi ’Cuda is one of just four built by the factory with 4-speed stickshift | Mecum Auctions
The ’71 Hemi ’Cuda is one of just four built by the factory with 4-speed stickshift | Mecum Auctions

An exceptionally rare and original 1971 Plymouth Hemi ’Cuda 4-speed convertible soared to a record-breaking sale with a winning bid of $3.5 million Saturday at Mecum’s first Seattle auction.

In about eight minutes of heated phone bidding, with the seller standing on stage and holding fast to his reserve price, the authentically restored muscle car sold for the highest price ever for a ’71 Hemi ’Cuda. Mecum claims that the sale makes it “the world’s most-expensive Mopar.”

The $3.5 million high bid does not include the buyer’s auction fees.

The ’Cuda interior was authentically restored | Mecum Auctions
The ’Cuda interior was restored to original | Mecum Auctions

Among the most sought-after muscle cars, this ’Cuda reigns as a blue-chip icon, one of only four factory-built convertibles equipped with 4-speed stickshift delivered in the U.S. It is  documented as the only remaining matching-numbers example in existence.

Recent sales of ’71 Hemi ’Cuda convertibles show an average value for pristine-condition originals at $2 million, according Hagerty Insurance’s Cars That Matter valuation guide. But the rarity of this car’s factory equipment puts it out in front of the pack.

The car is powered by its original 426cid, 425-horsepower Hemi V8, and the ’Cuda’s factory broadcast sheet shows that it was equipped at the Hamtramck, Michigan, assembly plant with the New Process 4-speed transmission, Dana 60 rear end with 4.10 Super Track Pak, 26-inch radiator and power brakes.

The car also has a colorful history, adding to its allure. It was owned by famed Southwest cartoonist Russ Meyer, who sold it to an Oregon buyer. Later, the muscle car was seized by authorities there as part of a drug bust and sold at auction for $405,000, an unprecedented figure at the time.

The ’Cuda convertible was completely restored in its original Bright Blue with matching interior and black convertible-top in 2000 by Mopar expert Julius Steuer of Los Angeles. The car retains its original appearance with painted steel wheels, dog-dish hub caps and white-letter tires. The rare Shaker hood is held down by chrome pins, and the dashboard includes the desirable Rallye Instrument Cluster.

The ’Cuda was among about 600 collector cars, trucks and motorcycles auctioned off Friday and Saturday during Mecum Auctions’ inaugural sale at the CenturyLink Field Event Center in Seattle.

For a Mecum Auctions video of the Hemi ’Cuda convertible sale, see ’Cuda bidding.

Bob Golfen
Bob Golfen
Bob Golfen is a longtime automotive writer and editor, focusing on new vehicles, collector cars, car culture and the automotive lifestyle. He is the former automotive writer and editor for The Arizona Republic and SPEED.com, the website for the SPEED motorsports channel. He has written free-lance articles for a number of publications, including Autoweek, The New York Times and Barrett-Jackson auction catalogs. A collector car enthusiast with a wide range of knowledge about the old cars that we all love and desire, Bob enjoys tinkering with archaic machinery. His current obsession is a 1962 Porsche 356 Super coupe.


  1. ERROR! You stated: “The car is powered by its original 427cid, 425-horsepower Hemi V8”. Its a 426cid Hemi, NOT 427! Jeez! 8)

  2. I happened to watch the bidding on this car on You Tube. Like Bill says, in the final analysis, it is still a Hemi Cuda. Great car, interesting history but if I had 4 million to spend on a car (yes, 4 million with buyers premium and all applicable taxes) I would be buying a
    1966 Ferrari 275 GTB/4. At least I know the value would appreciate without be subjected to the whims of the market.

  3. This show was so great for Seattle and the whole pacific northwest. I attended with my son on Friday and he walk away with a beautiful Porsche 911. Thanks Mecum for a great father son affair. Jeff Spokane

  4. I am trying to understand ,,,, 1 of 4 ,,??? but it was completely restored ,,, so how does that make it 1 of 4 with all replacement parts ???It could be 1 of many many . If it was all original , lovingly kept , then maybe I would understand 1 of 4 . I think somebody has too much money laying around and is looking for a pat on the back medal ,,, or got taken and will buy that Bridge that has been for sale all these years next .

  5. Terry, what this means is that this particular Hemi ‘Cuda was one of four factory convertibles built in 1971 with the 426 Hemi and 4-speed stickshift. Despite being professionally restored, it survives today as the only known matching-numbers car in this original configuration. It does not have ‘all replacement parts’ but retains its original drivetrain and other crucial mechanical, trim and stylistic elements as originally built as proven by its documentation and ownership history. Otherwise, it would be a mere clone and valued at a fraction of this sale. Worth $3.5 million? It was on Saturday at the Mecum auction.

  6. thanks Bob ,,,, I understand ,,I get well Idont know the word ,,,to use ,, but I have an original aoutmobile and it bothers me if I get beat at a ”show ” by a car in the same class that was restored . I feel that that should be two different categories . Well that has nothing to do with 3.5 mil . thanks again for the response .

  7. Bob, the only things this car retains from its original incarnation as built by a $4.50 an hour unskilled auto worker (I was one) are its numbers. And please state your sources to prove that it does not have “all replacement parts”,. As to the “worth $3.5 million” comment, you misunderstand basic English: that’s what it was SOLD for. That22 doesn’t mean it is WORTH $3.5 million….

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