HomeCar CultureCraig Jackson Brings Rare ‘Cuda to Jay Leno’s Garage

Craig Jackson Brings Rare ‘Cuda to Jay Leno’s Garage

1970 Hemi ’Cuda convertible is at the top of the food chain


Everyone’s favorite car enthusiast, Jay Leno, has something in store for muscle car fans because the Big Kahuna of muscle cars, a purple 1970 Hemi ’Cuda convertible, paid a visit to his garage along with its owner, the guy who runs the Big Kahuna of auctions: Craig Jackson, chairman and CEO of Barrett-Jackson.

If you need an education (or reeducation), here is the deal with the Hemi ’Cuda convertible: from 1964-69, the Barracuda was based on the A-body platform, so it was a Valiant-based compact with pony car moves. Plymouth sought to shed the Barracuda’s A-body origins and created a new platform that was basically a shortened B-body (mid-size) platform. This allowed Plymouth to install big 440 and 426 Hemi engines with ease and helped the 1970 Barracuda keep up with the competition.

Shaker hoods were standard with the Hemi, optional with other ‘Cuda engines.

 When the new 1970 Barracuda was introduced, Plymouth offered three versions: the base Barracuda, the luxurious Barracuda Gran Coupe, and the performance-oriented ‘Cuda. The ‘Cuda’s standard engine was a 335-horsepower 383 with options starting with a high-winding 340 (including the 340 six-barrel that was introduced for the Trans-Am-inspired AAR‘Cuda), 440 four-barrel, 440 six-barrel, and 426 Hemi.

Jay and Craig drive around Burbank and vicinity.

The latter was a detuned race engine that was originally created for NHRA and NASCAR circuits. Things with racing pedigree tend to increase the value of a collector vehicle. Additionally, all things being equal, a pony car like the Barracuda will be worth more than a traditional mid-size muscle car like a Road Runner. Combine a pony car convertible with an engine with racing heritage and you’ve got the making of a blue-chip collectible. In the case of the 1970 ’Cuda convertible, only 635 were built. Of those, 14 were built with the Hemi for the U.S., another three were built for the Canadian market, and only one is known to have been exported when new. In addition, this is the only purple/white leather one of the bunch.

This tag was used for export vehicles.

Craig Jackson owns that car, which was originally delivered to the United Kingdom. It’s also painted in “FC7” In Violet, perhaps the most popular color among enthusiasts. Other features include console-shifted TorqueFlite, power steering and brakes, leather interior, power windows, power top, Rallye wheels, and “A21” Elastomeric front bumper, among others. If you want to impress your friends, tell them the “Hockey Stick” stripe was  only available in black, but Jackson’s car features a white reproduction – a common upgrade to ‘Cudas these days, and one that nicely matches the top and interior.

Watch the above Jay Leno’s Garage video to hear the tale of this 1970 Hemi ’Cuda convertible, including its life in England and how Jackson was able to acquire it.

Diego Rosenberg
Diego Rosenberg
Lead Writer Diego Rosenberg is a native of Wilmington, Delaware and Princeton, New Jersey, giving him plenty of exposure to the charms of Carlisle and Englishtown. Though his first love is Citroen, he fell for muscle cars after being seduced by 1950s finned flyers—in fact, he’s written two books on American muscle. But please don’t think there is a strong American bias because foreign weirdness is never far from his heart. With a penchant for underground music from the 1960-70s, Diego and his family reside in metropolitan Phoenix.



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