Enthusiasts may not have known it at the time, but 1971 would prove to be a swansong of sorts for the traditional Detroit muscle car. Rising fuel prices and increasingly stringent emission controls made the chances of squeezing a massive engine underhood increasingly slim -- although a few gems, like this 1971 Plymouth 'Cuda 440 Six-Pack Convertible -- managed to sneak out the factory doors.
Although the Barracuda began as a smaller, sporty-looking coupe built upon Plymouth's lowly Valiant, the all-new car, launched in 1970, abandoned its A-body roots in favor of Mopar's new E-body architecture. Arguably, this switch, coupled with a range of new high-performance engine offerings and wild colors, allowed the nameplate to reach its prime. The 'Cuda received a number of memorable styling tweaks, including the six-louver grille insert and fender vents, for 1971, but the muscle was beginning to wane. The 440-cubic-inch V-8 was still available with the so-called Six-Pack (three two-barrel carburetors), but a drop in compression lowered power to 385 (gross) horsepower.
Few '71 convertibles were built with the engine -- in fact, experts put the total figure at a whopping 17 cars. Understandably, only one was built in this, erm, unusual Tawny Gold color. Better yet, this is a numbers matching car, which was highly equipped with options like the billboard graphics, shaker hood, center console, rally gauges, rally wheels, power steering and brakes, and road lamps straight from the factory.
Our Potential Purchase of the Week is one of the top-spec 'Cuda models, sold with a big-block, 440-cubic-inch V-8 with three, two-barrel carburetors -- hence the six-pack designation. This particular example is made even more desirable as it's equipped with the shaker hood and is a fully documented, numbers matching car.
Why would I want it?
Apart from the color, this car has virtually everything to make a Mopar muscle devotee drool -- but in reality, this beast is only for the die-hard (and well-heeled) collector. The restoration, rarity, and documentation included with this car means it'll likely fetch some big money, making it far too valuable to truly use one as Chrysler originally intended: to drive.
Still, if this is your idea of a dream machine and you have the free cash to scratch, make sure you head to Russo and Steele's Scottsdale 2011 auction event, which takes place from January 19 through the 23.