Wow! 27 Hemi ‘Cuda & Challenger Convertibles In One Place!

For Bob Ashton, who co-owns and is the main manager for the Muscle Car And Corvette Nationals at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Illinois, it is always about getting something more exciting. Ashton is a Michigan native (his father was a Chrysler executive) and has a background in show promotion. Knowledgeable about many facets of car collecting and rarity, he spent most of the 11-month and 28-day “off-season” in 2015 specifically making contact with Mopar collectors to try and assemble what will likely be the largest gathering of Hemi-powered E-body convertibles in history.

Of course, those of us who follow this market are quite aware that these are not run-of-the-mill machines. Indeed, MCACN event sponsor Mecum Auctions has repeatedly achieved Hemi ’Cuda and Hemi Challenger droptops at million-plus prices on several occasions. The total number of units built between 1970 and 1971 totals just over three dozen (42, actually), headlined by the 1971 Hemi ’Cuda, of which just 12 examples were built. Dodge offered the convertible Challenger R/T just one year, 1970, with 12 units, and 1970 Hemi ’Cuda production came in a whopping 18 vehicles. A handful of these were destined for Canada and export. At least three of the authentic versions were campaigned on the drag strip. One of those cars (now restored) brought a whopping $3.5M in 2014. Today, most of the cars still surviving and accounted-for have been restored or preserved.

So Ashton began his search. Mecum itself was planning to offer three of the rare cars at their Kissimmee 2016 auction, whose sum total would eventually top $6M. Bob’s deep connections in the collector hobby quickly shook loose over a dozen more, and the hard work started. He would eventually document the effort in his limited edition self-published book (now sold out) “The Search for the Holy Grail,” referring to the Hemi E-body drop-top’s unique stature among the collector hobby. From Cy and Joann Behrens’ long-hidden 1970 model, to the extensive cars now part of the Brothers Collection on the west coast, Bob managed to assemble a total of 27 great E-machines for the 2015 event. We are showcasing this one-time-ever display in honor of the 2016 edition the weekend of November 19-20, which will include even more surprises. Stay tuned…

The 2015 Muscle Car & Corvette Nationals hosted what is likely the most important gathering ever of America’s most valuable Mopars in one space.
The 2015 Muscle Car & Corvette Nationals hosted what is likely the most important gathering ever of America’s most valuable Mopars in one space.
We got MCACN show co-owner Bob Ashton to smile despite him being up almost 24 hours straight as we started our midnight photo session last year. He is in between the two rows of E-body Hemi convertibles. Estimated value? Even priced at a conservative $1.5M each, somewhere around $45,000,000...
We got MCACN show co-owner Bob Ashton to smile despite him being up almost 24 hours straight as we started our midnight photo session last year. He is in between the two rows of E-body Hemi convertibles. Estimated value? Even priced at a conservative $1.5M each, somewhere around $45,000,000…

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THE “PRESS CAR”
1970 HEMI ’CUDA
FE5 RALLYE RED

This is the one of the first-ever Hemi’ Cudas built (there was a pilot car believed scrapped), and is best known for the thrashing it took as a press car. Red Shaker, elastomeric front and rear bumpers, red interior with console, and A32 Super Performance Axle (A727/4.10 Dana package) made it truly unique. It and one of the Blake family cars were the only two 1970s known done in red. Today, this car is in the Brothers Collection.
Also here with the first Hemi’ Cuda was this cutaway auto show Hemi display engine.

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YELLOW JACKET
1970 HEMI ’CUDA

This incredibly nice 1970 Hemi Plymouth in yellow with black top, interior, and graphics was among the cars that were not in the organized rows but rather displayed for Mecum’s upcoming Kissimmee auction, held last January. A Canadian build that was highly optioned, still with its original Hemi engine and four-speed combo, it sold there for $2.675 million…

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THE MONIED CLASS
1970 HEMI CHALLENGER R/T
FE8 GREEN METALLIC

Classy is how you could describe this Challenger R/T drop-top’s appearance. FE8 Green metallic paint, Rallye wheels, stripe delete (for body-side mouldings), power top, and A36 driveline package. Nevertheless, this car uses manual brakes to keep life interesting. The Brothers collection had it…

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THE “HIDDEN HEMI”
1971 HEMI ’CUDA
FE5 RALLYE RED

Wade and Astor Ogle brought in this iconic-looking 1971 Hemi ’Cuda, Rallye Red with post-sale black billboards, which had resided in storage in a dry Arizona garage for 30 years. Now a beautiful restoration, the originally buyer had bought it with an insurance payment from a motorcycle accident that had left him paralyzed! It is one of two in this color and features original sheetmetal throughout.

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“Executive Order”
1970 Hemi ’Cuda
TX9 Black Velvet
This triple-black beauty features a leather interior and was originally ordered by the man who actually designed the 1970 Barracuda, John Herlitz. This amazing car is heavily-optioned—rally dash cluster, six-way seat, luggage rack, power windows and top, and more—all in black. Also from the Brothers collection, it is an A727/4.10 Dana combo.

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TANGERINE MACHINE
1970 HEMI ’CUDA
EK2 VITAMIN C ORANGE

The Brothers have been busy buying great cars. This is another executive lease car, and the only one built in extra-cost EK2 Vitamin C Orange paint. No poseur, the Hemi here was backed by the A727/4.10 code-A32 driveline, plus chrome mirrors, tinted glass, and AM/8-track radio.

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BIG BRUISER
1970 HEMI ’CUDA
TX9 BLACK VELVET

This car was unique, as it is the only Hemi ’Cuda built in TX9 black with a blue interior (five were built in this exterior color). Indeed, only two 1970 ’Cudas of any kind came with this exact combo; the other is a Six Pack car. This was a custom order car with AM/8-track stereo, four-speed, Super Trak Pak 4.10 Dana, and power top. The Blake family had it in their impressive line-up.

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SWEDISH BLUE
1970 CHALLENGER R/T
FC7 PLUM CRAZY

This 1970 Hemi Challenger R/T was not built for export but ended up there in the mid-1970s. A true factory FC7 Plum Crazy car, it features a four speed, performance hood, black stripe and top, Rallye wheels, and black longitudinal stripes, it has been perhaps the most traveled of the group with several owners in England, Sweden and the States. It brought into MCACN from the Greg Nelson ‘Mopar Ponderosa’ collection

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RED DEVIL
1970 HEMI ’CUDA
FE5 RALLYE RED

This car has been owned by the Blakes of Arizona since 1982. It is one of two examples done in this color, and not often noted is that these Rallye Red models were the only ones that could get both body color front and rear bumpers and body color Shaker. This car is well-enough optioned for two fender tags. The car the Blakes call the “Red Devil” is unique among all of these cars in that it is only one known as a column shift/no console model coupled to a Super Trak Pak with the Dana 60 4.10.

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THE “ONE-OFF”
1970 HEMI ’CUDA
EW1 ALPINE WHITE

The EW1 Alpine White coupled to a red interior is pretty cool, yet Plymouth built just one 1970 Hemi ’Cuda that way. This car has white steel wheels, a black Shaker, and power windows and top. The A36 Performance Axle included an A727 and 3.55 8 ¾ differential, while the car has rally gauges, body-color mirrors, and AM radio. It is part of the awesome Brothers Collection of rare muscle cars.

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THE BIG WINNER
1970 HEMI ’CUDA
TX9 BLACK VELVET

This car will be familiar to many who know drag racing, as Terry Earwood won the 1973 US Nationals with it when it wore 1971 sheet metal and Steve Bagwell’s crazy paint. A real 1970 Hemi convertible, it was sold new in Georgia and repossessed before its quarter-pounding began. Once its restoration back to stock was completed, it was placed in Phil Silva’s Oklahoma-based muscle car museum.

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SUBLIME SOLID
1970 CHALLENGER RT
FJ5 SUBLIME

This 1970 Challenger R/T is done in FJ5 Sublime Green and is among only five Hemi automatic Challenger convertibles built in the single production year. Well-optioned, it features its original engine and brought almost $1.7M at Mecum Kissimmee in early 2016, one of the first times a real ’70 Hemi Challenger R/T has sold on the open market.

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“BASS BOAT”
1970 HEMI ’CUDA
FC7 IN-VIOLET

This 1970 Hemi ’Cuda was sold new in Omaha, street raced hard, and warranty-repaired with its first owner. After being repossessed by the bank for a mere $52.00, a later owner would give it a radical 1970s custom paint job and it stayed that way for almost three decades. After collector Wade Ogle was able to buy it along with its numbers-matched engine, Roger Gibson brought it back to the perfection shown here.

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LADY LUCK
1971 HEMI ’CUDA
GW3 SNO-WHITE

In addition to a Winchester Gray French ’Cuda featured below and a now-crushed sister, this car was also exported to France and the only automatic of those three 1971s. Reportedly built for a socialite novelist who wanted a fast cruise to Monte Carlo, this is a real billboard car in Sno-White paint and features a black interior. It was also the last Hemi convertible ever built, giving the Brothers and their red press car the bookends of the series.

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WHITE ELEPHANT
1971 HEMI ’CUDA
GW3 SNO-WHITE

While the previous car was the final one built, another Sno-White (GW3) in attendance was this more basic version; this paint was on three of the 12 cars built in 1971 and one is documented destroyed. This automatic is a hot stripper, with column shift and standard black interior, but the owner did option the R26 AM radio/cassette with microphone, hence its nickname. Julius Steuer did the refreshing, Mecum showed it here, and it hammered home at $2.2M at Kissimmee less than two months later.

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FRENCH CONNECTION
1971 HEMI ’CUDA
GA4 WINCHESTER GRAY

Tom Lembeck probably had the shortest ride to the show, as he lives in the Chicago area. This 1971 Hemi ’Cuda drop-top, four-speed, gray with black billboards, will be familiar to long-time readers of Mopar Muscle, as we ran it here back in 2000. It was originally built for export to France and was found there; Tom jumped at the chance to buy it when it came back across the pond. Very solid, this is the only one of the 42 Hemi convertibles built to be painted in this color.

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STAR POWER
1970 CHALLENGER R/T
FC7 PLUM CRAZY

There were 12 Hemi Challenger R/Ts constructed. This car is one of four which received Plum Crazy paint and black interior, making that the most popular combination of any Hemi convertible. Five of the 12 total were four-speeds like this one, which also features white longitudinal striping and Rallye wheels; it has been part of several well-known collections before landing with the Brothers.

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OTIS’ ZONKER
1971 HEMI ’CUDA
FY1 LEMON TWIST

Does it look familiar? Well, you might have seen it in a magazine years ago, or maybe in the book about the late Otis Chandler’s cars. Of course, if you watch TV, this was the very car that inspired the Nash Bridges’ show replicas. Now with the Brothers collection, it was reportedly the first Hemi to top $50K when sold to Chandler’s representative in the 1990s. You will not see another one; only this one of the 12 ’71s built was painted FY1 Lemon Twist.

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ULTIMATE BUILD
1971 HEMI ’CUDA
EV2 TOR-RED

Of all the cars on hand, many people agree that the EV2 red-on-orange option that covers this particular 1971 model is stunning. The Blake family was no fly-by-night group of collectors; Bob and son Dave were among the very first to understand the rarity of these cars and stepped up to own this when it was located. This gem (built for export) came out of Canada and features THREE fender tags. Though the family paid a then-princely sum to own this one-of-one vehicle and bring it home, it was a lot less than what it would be worth today.

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GAS ATTACK
1970 HEMI ’CUDA
EW1 ALPINE WHITE

How about a real 1970 Hemi drop-top that was factory-built EW1 Alpine White, but it was actually drag raced into the 1990s using a Hemi that burned propane! After getting off the track, it was brought back to its as-built specs with the console-shifted Torqueflite; the only major change was making the interior white instead of its factory black. Tad Thurling had the car on display at the event.

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MOUNTAIN MOPAR
1971 HEMI ’CUDA
GB5 BLUE

This ’71 is another Hemi ‘Cuda drop-top with solid racing history. After being campaigned from Ohio for several years, it became the Mountain Mopar out of West Virginia. Though the engine was replaced, it is very low mileage, and has all of its original sheet metal. GB5 True Blue Metallic with blue interior and four-speed equipment is how two of the 12 1971s were built. This one has no billboards, a white top, and elastomeric front bumper; another one courtesy of the Brothers.

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CANADIAN CLUB
1970 CHALLENGER R/T
FJ5 SUBLIME

This hot Challenger was special-ordered and built for a Canadian man who planned on giving it to his son on his wedding day. When the son backed out, pop kept the car for a few years and it eventually ended up with collector Walt Downer, who brought it to the States to have restored. Wade Ogle bought in 2005. This car is the right color with the Shaker (very rare on any Challenger) and sports a Go-Wing as a later addition. The cost new on this car was $10,000 Canadian in late 1969, and upon picking it up the father reportedly complained he could have bought a new Mercedes instead.

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LEMON TWIST
1970 HEMI ’CUDA
FY1 YELLOW

Three 1970 Hemi ’Cuda convertibles went to Canada, an FJ5 Sublime car now believed destroyed, and two FY1 Lemon Twist versions—this car and the one sold by Mecum in January. This car features a unique tan interior, console-shifted Torqueflite, and no power steering. It still resides north of the border in the private collection of Ontario’s Legendary Motorcar Company.

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TWO-TAG CRUISER
1971 HEMI ’CUDA
FE5 RALLYE RED

In Bob Ashton’s “Grail” book, he notes that Tom Lembeck still takes his cars out for occasional drives in the Chicago area. This car’s prior history is not fully-known, but Tom has owned it for 16 years now, and it is well-appointed enough to have warranted two fender tags. Rallye Red, AM radio, color coded front and rear bumpers, Rallye dash, and a leather interior help make it fun when it gets its “work out” in the Windy City. Cool car, cool owner.

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SUPER GRAPE
1970 CHALLENGER R/T
FC7 PLUM CRAZY

It was 1979, and young Dave Blake and his father Bob were already scouring the nation for convertibles. This car came from a young man in Montana who had bought it for $10,000 (real 1970s money) as a drag car project. Plum Crazy paint, four-speed, black leather interior, a white top, and side stripes made it special, so special that the guy backed out, not once, but twice before Dave was able to buy it! It has been with the family ever since.

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BOB’S BOMBER
1970 HEMI ’CUDA
FC7 PLUM CRAZY

The late Bob Blake deserves special mention. He and son Dave were truly the first collectors of these cars, and despite literally millions worth of offers, they have stayed true believers. Rarely does ANY car leave the Blake collection. Making its debut here was a 14,000-mile car they had bought within a week of getting their Rallye Red example in the 1980s. Never restored during his lifetime, Bob used this four-speed to do research and he loved the fact it was a basic stripper born to run. Dave and his son Bryan put it back together in time for the gathering, its first public appearance since 1972….

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THE UNICORN
1970 HEMI ’CUDA
TX9 BLACK VELVET

Cy Behrens wanted a Hemi ’Cuda convertible and was searching just like the Blakes were. In 1982, he got his chance to buy this hardly-used example from a New York seller. He took it to a couple of shows where know-it-alls told him he needed to restore the all-original car. Not having a high threshold for fools, Cy decided to just park it…for good. The car is TX9 black with a tan interior, hockey stripe delete, argent Shaker, and remains unrestored. When Cy agreed to bring it here, it completed Bob’s long quest for the Mopar “holy grails” and was a highlight for everyone who attended MCACN in 2015.

Source: hotrod.com

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