This ultra-rare four-speed Hemi Cuda convertible is the perfect muscle cruiser
A rare, export version of one of the hottest Mopar muscle cars ever built is headed for sale at Mecum’s Indy even this May. Just 12 Cuda convertibles were fitted with a 426 Hemi in 1971, the last year the 426 Hemi was available. Of those 12, seven were meant for the domestic market, and five were exported. This is one of the latter, and it has a 240-kph speedometer to prove it. Making it even more special, this example is one of only three from that dozen that was equipped with a four-speed manual transmission, and yes, it has a Hurst pistol-grip shifter to boot.
Originally sold in France, the drop-top pony car was repatriated in 1993 and shows 98,553 kilometers on the odometer, which is just shy of 61,600 miles. Mecum’s auction listing notes that both the engine and transmission are numbers-matching. That’s not always a given, even with low-mileage cars, as performance engines were often drag raced and suffered the consequences. While this fine specimen has the optional Track Pac with improved cooling and a Dana 60 rear axle, the factory axle ratio, at 3.54:1, is much more suited to the open road than the strip.
The lauded Hemi V-8 is undoubtedly one of the most recognizable engines of the muscle car era. There’s simply no disguising the massive cylinder heads of the 426-cubic-inch V-8 when the hood is open. To trumpet the stock car and drag race prowess of the street Hemi even when the hood is closed, Mopar gave us the optional shaker hood so that at least part of the raucous engine could see the light of day.
Other notable features on the Cuda are its six-way manually adjustable driver seat, power steering, power brakes, and the lack of a radio. That means there’s no antenna protruding from the passenger fender, making for an even cleaner overall look. The only possible detractor on the option sheet that would keep this from being the absolute pinnacle of audacious Mopar muscle is the understated color choice. On the other hand, the Winchester Gray, paired with an interior, top, billboard graphics, and shaker scoop all in black, makes for an elegant combination. When you’ve got a growling, 425hp, dual-four-barrel Hemi poking through the hood, do you really need to be any more brash?