’70 Triple-Black Hemi ’Cuda Convertible

The 1970 Chrysler Hemi ’Cuda Convertible: Raw Power and Ragtop Pizzazz. And only 14 made.

One, in triple black –– only three of these were produced –– will be featured at the 2017 Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale auction, January 14−22, at WestWorld of Scottsdale, off the Loop 101.

In nine days of automotive festivities, the 46th Annual Scottsdale event will offer 1,500-plus vehicles, most selling at No Reserve; symposiums; family events; 200-plus vendors and sponsors; and charity consignments. More than 350,000 attendees are expected.

A pinnacle of the muscle car era, the ’Cuda, with a racing-tuned 426-cubic inch, 425-horse engine, dual-quad carburetion and upgraded A727 automatic transmission with 4.10 gears, will be offered with Reserve as Lot #1392, probably on Saturday night. Of the 18 convertibles made for domestic and international clients, the car is one of the 14 U.S. cars, nine with automatics.

“This is one of the most desirable muscle cars of all time,” says Craig Jackson, chairman and CEO of Scottsdale-based Barrett-Jackson, The World’s Greatest Collector Car Auctions®, which also produces annual events in Palm Beach, Florida, at Mohegan Sun, Connecticut, and Las Vegas, Nevada.

“That’s further enhanced by its triple black colors, silver shaker hood and a record-setting race history. As one of the great barn finds of all time, it was discovered high and dry in Taos, New Mexico, in the ’80s, and we’re excited to present it this January at Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale.”

Acceleration to Classic in No Time

Delivered from the Chrysler plant in Hamtramck, Michigan, to Kelly Chrysler Plymouth in Marietta, Georgia, this stock-order Hemi stayed unsold until well into 1970, as the muscle car era neared its twilight with the detuning of the 1971 performance cars. That year would be the last for the Hemi option.

“The first owner put about 8,000 miles on the car before it was repossessed and sold to former NHRA employee, Alex Bowers, who drove the car on the street for a while,” says the consignor, a Dallas resident who has shown the car in recent years at his Muscle Car Legends Museum in Idabel, Oklahoma, now closed.

Bowers then partnered with his brother Bob and friend Stewart Way, another former NHRA employee, to convert the car to race trim through Barnett Automotive in Atlanta, Georgia. They raced the car throughout the southeastern United States during the ’72 race season as a ’71 model because of a more favorable weight factor.

In 1970, Chrysler’s stated weight for the ’Cuda convertible was little different than that of the coupe, an incorrect equality, as convertibles models are more than 100 pounds heavier than similar hardtops, the consignor explains. But this required the convertibles run the same NHRA class as the coupes.

Chrysler rectified this for the ’71 model. “This allowed the ’71s to run SS/EA instead of SS/DA and made them competitive. Realizing this, the Bowers Brothers commissioned Barnett to convert their ’Cuda from a ’70 to a ’71,” he adds.

The car was then sold to eventual NHRA Hall of Famer Steve Bagwell who spent $5,000 for custom paint in 1973 and expanded its racing territory on U.S. tracks. Another future NHRA Hall of Famer, Terry Earwood, drove for the Bowers Brothers and stayed on with Bagwell after he purchased the car.

Earwood campaigned the car successfully for his team throughout the ’73 race season, including 27 eliminator wins. The big victory that year was at the prestigious US Nationals Indy meet, where Earwood won in class and then went on to win SS Eliminator while setting new national records for ET and MPH with an 11.09 @ 125.17 MPH. At IHRA Rockingham that year, the car ran in the SS/EA, with an even better 11.00 @ 124.95. If your car today can do that, documented with a track slip, you’re still in a very special class.

Earwood was inducted into the NHRA Hall of Fame in 1996 and Bagwell in 2005. “This car was no small part of these honors,” the consignor says.

After that season, Richard Griffin, a Bagwell team driver, purchased the car.

In 1976, Griffin sold the car to Laurence Chase of Taos, New Mexico. He raced it briefly before breaking the transmission at Green Valley Raceway in the Dallas area that year, the consignor says. Transported back to Taos, the ’Cuda was discovered in the late ’80s by Ernie Blumenthal, who immediately resold it to Phoenix attorney Patrick McGroder, who began a multiyear restoration to showroom specs. The consignor purchased the car from McGroder in 2001 or 2002.

Mopar expert Galen Govier completed a report in September 2011, and nothing major has been changed since that authentication, the consignor adds. The car retains the original fender tag, registration papers back to ’76, a partial broadcast sheet and many photos throughout the years. When found in New Mexico, it was unhit and rust free with pictures to support, he says.

The consignor has, however, installed the correct chrome racing mirrors, correct wheel opening moldings, correct rim blow steering wheel, door VIN sticker and a few other minor items. “The mileage shown is just below 11,800, which I believe is correct since it was only street driven for a brief period,” he says.

The consignor has shown the car at Meadowbrook Concours, the Palo Alto Concours and, for five months, it was on loan to the famed Petersen Museum in Los Angeles.

This is sacred automotive territory, for sure. “It’s a Hemi, it’s a ’Cuda, it’s the rarest and most desirable model, a convertible, it’s the very desirable triple black, it’s the most successfully drag raced Hemi E body convertible ever,” the consignor says. “So, it’s one of the rarest and most desirable of all muscle cars and has this incredible race provenance which puts it in a league of its own. And it is all documented.”

Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale 2017: A Car Lover’s Hemisphere

The Hemi ’Cuda is not alone in star power this year. Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale ’17 shines.

“We’re going to fuel the excitement we built up during our 45th anniversary year with our 2017 Scottsdale Auction,” Jackson says.

Among other marquee cars are Zora Arkus-Duntov’s historic Chevrolet Engineering Research Vehicle (CERV) 1, 140-plus vehicles from the Charlie Thomas Collection and a rare 2012 Hennessey Venom GT Spyder offered by Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and four-time Grammy winner Steven Tyler to benefit Janie’s Fund.

“Charity remains a pillar of our organization, and after our success in 2016, we surpassed $91 million raised for charity to date,” Jackson adds. “We’re looking forward to another great contribution when Steven Tyler drives his personal Hennessey Venom GT Spyder across the block to benefit Janie’s Fund.”

Tyler’s supercar is the fifth of only 12 Hennessey Venom GTs created and first of the Spyder convertibles. At No Reserve, the Venom GT will generate 100 percent of the hammer price for Janie’s Fund, which Tyler created with Youth Villages to help abused and neglected girls.

“It is a driver’s car,” Hennessey has said of its Venom GT, “a supercar with a soul that will give you as much speed and performance as you dare ask of it.” In March 2016, it recorded a top speed of 265.6 mph, making it the world’s fastest convertible sports car.

The auction of the CERV 1, belonging to the “Father of the Corvette,” Arkus-Duntov, and an important piece of American automotive history, is also highly anticipated. This was Arkus-Duntov’s testbed for the eventual 1960s Chevrolet Corvette and carries a 377-cid aluminum small block, an advanced Rochester fuel-injection system and Indy-style tires and wheels.

To be offered at No Reserve, the Charlie Thomas Collection comprises 140-plus outstanding vehicles, including prewar classics, American muscle, European cars and high-performance vehicles. These include a 1970 Plymouth Superbird with the original V-code 440/390-horse Six Pack V-8, a 4-speed transmission and the optional A33 Trak Pak and Dana 60 rear.

“Our Scottsdale Auction is the best event to get the full effect of what we call the ‘Barrett-Jackson Experience’,” says Steve Davis, president of Barrett-Jackson. “From the excitement of cars such as the triple-black ’70 Hemi ’Cuda to seeing first-time buyers bid on a vehicle to the thunderous applause that comes from a million-dollar bid for charity, Scottsdale is the premier auction where you can truly indulge in the automotive lifestyle.”

For more info on the 1970 Hemi ’Cuda convertible, the event or to become a bidder, visit Barrett-Jackson.com or call 480.421.6694. Absentee bidding options are also available and powered by Proxibid.