Barn-find Hemi ’Cuda uncovered in secret Midwest location

Ryan Brutt

Ryan Brutt is a huge fan of muscle cars. Mopars, in particular. He chronicles his finds from small towns across the country in his YouTube channel, Auto Archaeology, and among his recent discoveries is one of the most sought-after muscle cars of all time. That’s right—a 1970 Hemi ’Cuda four-speed in the very desirable In Violet metallic.

The 426 Hemi is a legendary engine thanks to its monster cylinder heads that flow a tremendous amount of air and fuel. Combine the 425-hp, dual-quad engine with one of the lightest cars in Mopar’s fleet at the time and thus was born the Hemi ‘Cuda—a ready-made drag strip ruffian that many consider the pinnacle of Plymouth muscle car history. Combine that with one of the most iconic of Mopar’s High Impact colors and you’ve got the recipe for one seriously collectible Mopar. As we’ve seen in the past, the right color can make a Mopar muscle car a truly hot commodity, and In Violet is among the most desirable of all.

There’s a lot to unpack in this find, from the story of the car itself to how it ultimately ended up on Brutt’s channel. Initially, the current owner was in the market for a Dodge Challenger 440 Six Pack convertible but couldn’t find one. Instead he opted for its Plymouth cousin; the example he landed on just happened to be a Hemi four-speed model equipped with a shaker hood.

The Hemi’s air cleaner lid ordinarily makes for a fabulous sight when the hood is closed, but this one has had its twin four-barrel intake and shaker scoop removed in favor of a Hilborn mechanical fuel injection system. The stacks are gone, although it doesn’t take much to imagine a set of eight bell-mouthed stacks poking through the void where the shaker lid once lurked.

We called Brutt to learn more about this find and how it came together. The car came onto his radar back in 2015 but he didn’t get around to tracking it down until March 2018, when this video, posted last month, was filmed. He keeps a careful catalog of all leads and potential locations, with Google Earth and Google Streetview serving as his main tools. Naturally, he keeps a close eye on potential hiding spots in his travels, too.

Has the winter weather has put a damper on his auto archeology? Brutt noted that the lack of any seriously heavy snow in the Midwest this season has kept car spotting going a bit longer than usual. “It’s been a real good time to go hunting,” he said. “Leaves are off the trees and there aren’t any bugs. All the foliage is down.” That means longer sight lines and fewer hiding places for cars parked in side yards or down driveways. “I have 3000 pins on the map from 10 years of doing this,” Brutt added, noting that the majority of his leads are still unexplored; he often can only check up on out-of-the-way leads when plans to travel nearby overlap.

Our own Barn Find Hunter, Tom Cotter, has written and spoken at length about what it takes to turn up cool old cars, and Brutt has his own methods. Digital detective skills come in handy; in the case of this Cuda, he used some GeoGuessr tricks to home in on the location of the ‘Cuda based on a photo he found posted online. “This was probably the most hardcore sleuthing I’ve done,” Brutt told us.

We hope you let all this good advice sink in as a lesson but also as a warning: if you post a photo of your weathered Mopar muscle car online, the Auto Archeologist may come knocking.

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    That’s going to cost a tremendous amount of money to restore, won’t be original and will probably never race, which is about all it’s good for. There are already more hemi Cudas out and about than ever rolled out of a Plymouth factory. Most of us are better off with a 318 or slant six as fuel efficiency and durability are high performance too.

    Exactly. But this hobby is now all about the money and the flash — ruined by Boomers’ windfall equity flooding the market and the resulting financialization (…koff… koff… Hagerty) of cars as investments.

    When I was in high school, a gal in my class had one of these; same year, same color. It was, by far, the hottest car around. Nobody could touch it, and that was when the now desirable muscle cars were essentially junkers. I drove a ’67 GTO (400, Carter quadrajet, TH400), then considered an old crap car. It wasn’t even close. My buddy had a ’67 Camaro (350, auto), which was easier on the eyes than my Goat, but not as fast. We also used to race a ’65 Buick Wildcat (455, auto, Police Special) that could get up and go, especially for the heavy tank it was. I digress. The point was that the ‘Cuda was a BEAST!!!

    Sacrilege! Carter AFB was off the GTO by 65, the tri-power and the Quadra jet we’re always Rochester… By the way my 69 GTO convertible Ram Air III does pretty well against all the stuff you’re talking about and it runs every day

    There was a Carter Quadrajet!! I know because my 1968 SS427 Impala came with one. I would win bets by telling everyone I had a Carter carb on my car from the factory. The KNOW IT ALLS would say that was not true since AFB carbs were not used by GM anymore. I would then open the hood and lift the air cleaneer and there in bold letters was the Carter name on a Quadrajet. I would tell them I never said it was an AFB.
    By the way I wish I still had that carb, all the ones I have gotten since then have been terrible since they don’t have the correct jets, and are mainly small block replacements.

    Mike – I also had a 68 Impala SS427… mine was a convertible. That is the one car I wish I had kept. I sold it because my new bride didn’t want to park her Lexus in the driveway, and I didn’t want to park the car in the weather and watch it slowly erode. 🙁 WTH was I thinking?? Love is both blind and stupid!

    At some point, I ripped the Carter Thermoquad off the car and put a Holley on it. I still have the carb in the garage. I figure that someone someday will need it to put a car back to original…

    Carter, a division of ACF Industries, was commissioned by General Motors to produce a Carter version of the Rochester Quadrajet. The reason was that the Rochester factory could not produce enough units to meet the demand. I’m not certain when these Carter QJ’s were first produced or when they were discontinued.

    I wonder if that was how Carter came up with the ThermalQuad that Chrysler used in its cars. Small primaries and large secondarys in an insulated throttle body. Just thinking!!

    My best friend in high school had a beautiful ’66 GTO with a Tri Power 389 and a four speed. I had a ’66 Chevelle SS 396 with a factory Holley 4bbl (cfm unknown.) We would get together on occasion to “test” the acceleration between our respective vehicles. Never have I seen two more evenly-matched cars! Whoever got the starting line advantage held it through our 1320-foot distance. Sure miss those days…

    The current owner is probably “going to do something with it one day”. Same old story. Sell it to someone who can give it the love it needs, before it rusts away back into the earth.

    Derek from Vice Grip Garage would install a fresh battery, change the oil, clean the plugs, fix the brakes, plumb a gas tank on the front seat to the fuel injection, and then he would drive it 700 miles home.

    If the numbers match for the engine and trans and most of it is there, it MIGHT be worth it. Have to see how rotted it is. Almost all the parts are made now so it is doable. It would be tens of thousand of dollars to do correctly in body work alone, not counting paint. Cost to do the work is the same for Hemi as slant six, but the payoff is a LOT better for the Hemi.

    I am so over the trek “barn find” and so over these “car enthusiasts” that are in reality just flippers in it for the money. They may claim they are all about saving these cars, but the true motivation is treating them like investments and turning a healthy profit being middleman and selling to a collector. The average real “car guy” can’t afford the marked up entry price (restoration cost are high enough) so true car enthusiasts who want to drive and experience these classics can’t get there hands on one. I’ve heard the arguments that if not for these barn-hunter-flipper guys, the poor car would just rust and disappear. Maybe, but I don’t see them searching for and saving the slant 6 Challenger or Dart. When the guys who can rattle off the 20 or 35 cars they’ve owned claim to be enthusiasts, those numbers should tell you what’s really going on.

    My idea of a barn find is something that an individual car enthusiast finds that is a bit of a time capsule and an opportunity to own something that is potentially unreachable otherwise. This production-line barn-finding fad where people go and flush these things out then serve them up to the auction market is destroying the dream in more ways than one

    Sounds like hate speech…….horses might take umbrage as barns are their homes. Maybe a better description: this is internal combustion, carbon creating, displaced motor vehicle located in a farm structure.

    Wait – What?!!
    Where’s the Barn???
    Looks more like a “Yard Find” to me.
    Or a “Junk Yard/Junky Yard Find”.
    Maybe a “I-never-got-it-into-my-garage-because-it’s-full-of-crap Find”.

    If this is the same car I saw on a video, the owner has no immediate plans to restore. He also has no desire to sell.

    No idea what the ruckus over these “barn find cars” is all about. By the time the car is ever “restored” it will really be more of a replica with an original engine and drivetrain. Beyond that.

    1) If the guy has held onto it this long, and is as chatty as he seems in the YouTube video, then being the guy who owns the car is more important to him than whatever money, the car is worth as it sits.
    2) If he was ever going to restore it, he would’ve done so already.
    3) given the above, the car will sit where it is until the owner gives up the ghost.
    4) at which point it will be sold and someone will have the pleasure of investing several hundred thousand dollars into restoring their “dream car“
    5) Happy fulfill the dream in them to their pockets they will ship it off to Barry Jackson and recoup some fraction of what they invested.

    Go “Joe Dirt!” with it. Patch any rust, lightly sand everything, and matte finish clearcoat it. Get it running and driving great and cruise.

    Personally I would fix any rust, stabilize the rest of the metal to prevent rust, and then leave the body alone! It tells a story of survival, much like the readers here do. Then do the work to get a safe and reliable drivetrain….maybe a 318 with a Torqueflight, and disc brakes. Make the interior sweet and then just enjoy the fuck out of it. No, not a hemi Cuda, just something you can actually drive and enjoy, rather than break a sweat every time someone looks at it on your trips to the gas station. You

    Looks like the project stalled a couple weeks ago. If you’re not a professional shop, car restoration is an undertaking that so few people have the ambition, time, finances, and patience for. Seen it a thousand times. Sand all the paint off and push it out in the weeds.

    Man, you could start a winery with all the sour grapes on this forum. This car is the real deal, and whether you like it or not, it’s worth a lot – just the way it sits. It will eventually get restored, and rightly so.

    Myself I wouldn’t bother,not worth it IMHO and I’ve been restoring classics for >55+ years.

    Now if you were to find something like the ,, all 100% complete & original , rust free, <46K mile, one owner car like my 71 Boat Tail Rivi in my avatar,, "Lucille" ,,

    then it's worth it ! Otherwise forget about it , the itch isn't worth the scratch you'd spent restoring that car you showed.

    Reminds me of a Cuda that I saw parked in a residential detached garage parked in the mid-seventies in Brookpark, Ohio. Could this be the one? Secret Midwest location?

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