Jay Leno Meets a Plymouth Superbird: Video
A 1970 Plymouth Superbird is considered a unicorn by today’s standards. What most people don’t know is that this outrageous machine wasn’t a hot pancake back in the day. Dealers struggled to sell them because of how they looked and some even resorted to removing the nose and wing to make them look like a typical Plymouth Road Runner. But the Superbird now holds a special place in the hearts of muscle car collectors, including comedian Jeff Dunham, who happens to own one of just 58 Superbirds with a HEMI engine and a four-speed manual transmission. Of course, a car of this stature, with a celebrity owner to boot, found its way to Jay Leno’s Garage.
Bring Them Back: Five Automakers We Want To See Make A Comeback
The auto industry can be a ruthless business. A handful of automakers have witnessed this first-hand and, far too often, the consequences have been devastating. In the best of cases, a company can weather the storm of mediocrity until it finds its footing again, whether through its own perseverance or simply getting a lifeline in the form of another automaker. Volvo knows this more than anyone now that it’s thriving under Geely ownership after years of uncertainty. That said, not everybody is as lucky as Volvo. Countless automakers have bitten the dust over the years for one reason or another, be it because of managerial ineptitude or simply not being able to keep up with its rivals.
This list is an ode to those companies. It’s made up of automakers whose returns to the industry we pine for to this day. It’s not a guarantee that we’re going to get our wish and see these brands get resurrected, but we can still dream. Either way, there’s nothing to lose as far as wishing upon a star is concerned, right?
Continue after the jump to read the full story.
Jay Leno Goes Aeronautical with this Plymouth pickup: Video
Jay Leno is no stranger to custom, one-off builds. His garage full of such creation that were designed and built with little practicality – all parked next to meticulously restored historical vehicles and factory-fresh examples of timeless classics. None of them are more grandiose or nonsensical than this 1939 Plymouth pickup truck.
It’s powered by a 757 cubic-inch, seven-cylinder radial engine lifted from a 195 Cessna seaplane from the late 1940s. Both the truck and the plane sat in Gary Corns’ salvage yard in Colorado for nearly 30 years before he dreamt up this unseal concoction.
He decided to marry the radial engine with the pickup and cover every square inch with a period aeronautical theme. The result has this Plymouth pickup looking like a WWII-era bomber. Corns and his volunteer team of friends put the project together over several months working after hours on Wednesdays. Bare metal skin with rivets make the truck look like an aluminum aircraft, compete with roof-mounted windows, hand-painted warning signs, and red and green signal lights.
The Jacobs radial engine sends roughly 300 horsepower to the rear wheels via a heavy duty V-drive from a boat. A massive belt from a supercharger connects the V-drive to the engine’s output shaft where the missing propeller would attach.
Sadly, cooling is a major issue with the engine. Restricted airflow and a small reservoir of engine oil keeps its run time under 15 minutes before it begins overheating. Still, that’s plenty of time to enjoy this outrageous radial-powered pickup. There’s no doubt this project makes a small-block Chevy engine swap seem like child’s play.
Be sure to turn up the volume and enter full-screen mode. You’ll want the full experience with this 26-minute video.
Continue reading for more information.
2016 Mecum Auction Indianapolis – Recap
The History of Mecum Auctions goes back to 1988 at the Rockford Airport, where the first Mecum Auction was held. Over the last 28 years, Mecum has grown tremendously, now being ranked No. 1 in the U.S. for collector cars offered at auction, collector cars sold at auction, total dollar volume of sales, and the largest number of auction venues. On top of that, it has become the host of the world’s largest collector car auction that is hosted every year in Florida.
This last week, Mecum hosted an auction in Indianapolis, Indiana at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. This year there was a total of 1,859 lots that included plenty of collector cars, a few gas pumps, some neon signs, and even a few coin-operated kid rides. The big news from this auction, however, was the pair of Shelby Cobras that broke seven digits before the hammer dropped and a few other classics that are well worth taking an extra look at.
We’ve taken the time to cover the biggest sellers from the auction as well as a few of those that didn’t sell at all. There was even a 1971 Plymouth Hemi Cuda Pro Stock that got as high as $750,000 but didn’t get quite high enough to cross that thin reserve line. That was just one of many that didn’t sell, and those two Shelby Cobras weren’t the only models that found new owners last week. So, let’s take a look at a few of the most notable vehicles that went under the hammer last week.
Valentine’s Day Special – Spread The Car Love
There’s really one good reason you’re reading these words right now – you love cars. Non-car people don’t get it. They laugh and roll their eyes, calling it a waste of time to fix up that old beater, a waste of money to get out to the track for another weekend. That’s ok – let ‘em. Of course it doesn’t make sense to them. They don’t know the joy of finally getting an engine to spark back to life. They don’t know the thrill of setting a new personal best lap time. Too bad for them.
In celebration of Valentine’s Day, we’ve assembled five videos that are sure to remind you why you love cars. We’ve got a little bit of everything here, from Euro speed to Japanese tech, ground-up rebuilds to expansive muscle car car collections.
So sit back, hit play, and when you’re done, treat yourself to a drive.
Continue reading to check out the videos.
Classic-car pricing bubbles are a curious thing, and watching them grow and grow is part of the appeal of auction coverage. The modern “tulip mania” effect on moneyed collectors can be quite a thing to see in action, and ever since a classic Ferrari broke the $1 million mark in the 1980s, values have continued to climb, whether we’re talking about the rusted corpse of a 1948-1965 Porsche 356 for the price of a 2015 Lexus RC 350 or a million-dollar muscle car.
Quite a few American muscle cars have broken the multimillion-dollar mark several times over in recent years, though values dropped significantly when the economy tanked in 2008 or so. The question for speculators is this: do wild auction prices translate to higher overall values, and will things return to madness levels anytime soon? That’s a question that RK Motors is banking on, because there’s a 1971 Plymouth Hemi ‘Cuda sitting on its Charlotte, North Carolina showroom floor with a cool $1,999,990 written on the price tag.
That’s not a typo: 10 dollars shy of $2 million. That would have bought over 600 1971 Plymouth Barracudas at the original price. That would buy any of a number of massively fancy houses, or 34 2015 Dodge Challenger Hellcats. That might even buy you a couple of Congressmen. So what’s the story here? Is this particular Cuda made of plutonium? Can it travel through time provided you can generate 1.21 gigawatts of power? Does it grant wishes?
Continue reading for the full story.
When you have as many cars as Jay Leno, you can’t really be described as Ford, GM or Mopar guy. However, judging by the number of Dodges, Plymouths, and Chryslers parked in his garage, I’d be temped to believe Leno has a soft spot for Mopars. Be that as it may, the latest episode of Jay Leno’s Garage just hit the Interwebz and it features an awesome 1967 Plymouth Hurst Barracuda.
Before the Mopar gearhead in you gets overly excited, this isn’t an original factory car. It’s more of the restomod type, but that’s far from being an issue, as the coupe looks nearly stock on the outside, except for the wheels and the black-and-gold Hurst livery. As with most restomods, the cool thing about it is that it has modern underpinnings and drivetrain. The hood hides a modified small block, while the transmission is one of Hurst’s latest. Add in the racing suspension and its 500-horsepower rating (plus and we’re pretty much looking at a streetable version of the infamous "Hemi Under Glass" Barracuda.
As it usually happens in Leno’s videos, it all becomes a lot more exciting once the former TV show host jumps behind the steering wheel. As you might expect from a 1960s Dodge, the engine sounds breathtaking. In fact, even though it’s far from being as large as an authentic Hemi 426, it’s pretty loud and roars just like a racing unit. Check it out by hitting the play button above.
Racing homologation has provided us with some incredible road-going cars over the past five decades. Be it the 1969 Ford Mustang Boss 429, the 1986 BMW M3 E30 or the Porsche 911 GT2, homologation cars have brought racing to the streets and given birth to some of the rarest and most sought-after production vehicles the world has seen. In the U.S., NASCAR has also been responsible for a great batch of road racers, but none was as spectacular as the 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona and 1970 Plymouth Superbird. The latter was built in less than 2,000 units in 1970, but it has become one of America’s most iconic muscle cars.
Dubbed the "Aero Warrior", the Superbird can now fetch in excess of $300,000 if it comes with the 426 Hemi engine (only 100 units built) and it has been maintained in tip-top shape. The "lesser" Super Commando 440-engined Superbirds sell for significantly less than that, but some of them are known to cost more than a new Porsche 911 Turbo. Such is the case for this Lime Light-painted model that, according to its owner, is the very last one ever built.
The winged muscle car, which comes with complete documentation and registry information and only 57,800 miles on the odo, has just found a new owner on eBay for $165,000. Now that’s a rare bird and likely a future museum piece right there.
Continue reading for the full story.
While modern-day muscle cars can easily surpass the 600-horsepower mark — the Challenger Hellcat and the Shelby GT come to mind — back in the day, anything that had more than 400 horses on tap was labeled as extraordinary. In the early 1970s, the "league of extraordinary muscle cars" included only a handful of vehicles, the most powerful of which were the Chevrolet Chevelle SS 454 (450 horsepower) and the Plymouth Hemi Cuda (425 horses). Granted, the SS 454 had the highest factory rating at that time, but the Hemi racing engine made the Cuda that much more appealing. Both cars have become sought-after collectibles, selling for impressive sums at auctions.
Original parts, unrestored bodywork and low mileage usually translate into stickers in excess of $500,000, which is exactly what the red 1970 Hemi Cuda shown here is expected to fetch at Mecum’s Indy auction between May 12th and 17th.
Mecum estimates the muscle car will change owners for $600,000 to $800,000, mostly because it has never been restored and it was driven for just 81 miles. In short, this is the lowest-mileage 1970 Hemi Cuda known to exist! It’s a superb time capsule that performs as new thanks to renowned Hemi specialist John Arruza, who refreshed it with a complete fluid change and tuneup. Naturally, the vehicle is fully documented and includes the factory broadcast sheet and a recorded verification of the numbers and codes.
Continue reading to learn more about the 1970 Plymouth Hemi Cuda.
The Plymouth Barracuda saga began in 1964 as a fastback coupe based on the Valiant. The first-generation Barracuda was mostly famous for its distinctive wraparound rear glass, but also for being Plymouth’s first sporty, compact vehicle or "pony car." No match for the popular Ford Mustang, the Barracuda was redesigned for 1967, when notchback and convertible versions joined the already familiar fastback. Although still Valiant-based, the second-gen Barracuda received new sheet metal and larger engines, including Chrysler’s 7.2-liter, 440 Commando V-8 and the 7.0-liter, HEMI 426 V-8. The Barracuda reached its popularity peak in the early 1970s, as the heavily redesigned, third-generation model joined the muscle car wars. Longer and wider, the 1970 Barracuda renounced its Valiant roots and adopted an image of its own, while sitting on Chrysler’s new E-body platform.
The third-gen Barracuda also marked the demise of Plymouth’s main weapon against the Ford Mustang. As the oil crisis struck and compression ratios were reduced in performance engines, the nameplate died altogether after the 1974 model year. Fortunately enough, the short-lived HEMI Cuda, sold only in 1970 and 1971, made a huge impact in the muscle car world, enabling the Barracuda moniker to sit alongside the like of the Mustang, Camaro and Challenger at the top of the pony car kingdom. Although the original HEMI died 50 years ago and Plymouth got the axe in 2001, the HEMI Cuda lives on as one of America’s most prized collectible car. Read on to find out what makes the Cuda a special muscle car.
Updated 09/23/2014: A 1971 Plymouth Hemi Cuda just popped up at RK Motors for a price of $1,999,990.
Click past the jump to read more about the 1970-1971 Plymouth Hemi Cuda
The early 1970s was a grand time for American muscle cars with plenty of iconic iron rolling off the Big Three’s assembly lines. But few cars have reached the level of rarity as the Plymouth Hemi ‘Cuda. Production numbers of these legendary street machines were rather low compared to other muscle cars of the era. In the case of this particular ‘Cuda and its combination of options, the number is one.
Yes, out of the total 16,159 Barracudas sold in 1971, only 11 were fitted with the sportiest ‘Cuda option powered by the 426 Hemi and ordered as convertibles. Of those 11 cars, only three came with the four-speed manual transmission. Over 40 years later, one — yes o-n-e — B5-coded “Bright Blue” ‘Cuda is the only numbers-matching, 426 Hemi-powered, four-speed, convertible in existence. Talk about rare.
Updated 06/16/2014: This very cool Hemi Cuda Convertible was auctioned during this week-end’s auctions at Mecum for the amazing amount of $3,500,000.
Click past the jump to read more about the 1971 Plymouth Hemi ’Cuda Convertible.
Oh there are some really, really savvy spy photographers out and about these days and this time they caught the mother of all shots. The Barracuda has been an on-and-off venture for Chrysler for some time now, but we now have proof — via these exclusive spy shots — that it will debut this year at the New York International Auto Show in April. What’s more, it’s nothing like any of us imagined it would be...
We so happen to have a little "birdie" that works in the printing department at a large monthly automotive publication, and he noticed that the "boss man" was making sure only a select few saw the inside of this magazine. When he happened across a stray copy, he was as shocked as we are to see that the Barracuda will return not as a muscle car, but as a rebadged Dodge Dart.... sigh.... Our dreams are now crushed.
He managed to whip out his cell and snap off a few quick pictures, and this was the clearest one he could get, as he worried his boss could come around the corner at any second. We cleaned it up a bit by changing it to black and white, as the colors were a little messy from the poor lighting.
According to our source, the Barracuda features the same Fiat Compact platform as the Dart and Chrysler 200, but with some extra performance goodies. On top of the images, he scanned the page for as much information as he could absorb, and managed to catch that it will feature turbocharged four-cylinder with somewhere in the 250-horsepower and 260-pound-feet range, and that it will debut in New York this year. Unfortunately, that is all the information he could grab in the short amount of time he had alone with the stray mag.
Though the image is blurry, he described it as "a Dodge Dart with SRT aero mods and rims, and a dark grille." He couldn’t tell if it was an SRT model or a Plymouth, but the chances of Chrysler bringing back Plymouth for just this one model are slim to none.
So there you have it folks; Fiat has struck again by releasing another Chrysler icon from the muscle car years as a front-driven sedan, a la the Dodge Dart. We’ll go bury our heads in the sand until the NYIAS is over...
Update 4/1/2014: In case you haven’t figured it out just yet, this is a figment of our crazy imaginations here at the TopSpeed offices. Our rendering artist extraordinaire put a modified Dodge Dart on the pages of some random magazine, blurred the text a little and pasted in a Barracuda emblem and even a swimming barracuda in the background for the added "cheesy" effect. Thanks for playing along, we’ll be here all night; make sure to tip you waiters and waitresses...
The talented videographers over at Petrolicious have once again produced an amazingly-entertaining and informative short segment about a car guy who drives tastefully. In this case, it’s a man by the name of Bob Gough and his beloved 1967 Plymouth Barracuda Formula S.
Having moved to France as a small child following his father’s latest U.S. Air Force assignment, he fell in love with European iron. Aston Martins, Jaguars, Ferraris, and Porsches all caught his attention. Upon moving back to the states, His assumption of American muscle wasn’t all too flattering, that is, until he saw the new ’67 ‘Cuda roll across the Detroit Auto Show stage. He was in love.
Twenty-some-odd years ago, Gough came upon the opportunity to buy his own ‘Cuda. And a special ‘Cuda at that. The Formula S model was like a modern-day track pack that helped this behemoth fish handle like a pouncing European cat. However, he wanted more. Swapping out the original 273 cubic-inch mill for a 340 ci Mopar – plus a little hotter cam – gave this muscle car roughly 380 horsepower. He also swapped out the transmission for a new Tremec five-speed unit and upgraded the stock 14-inch wheels for classic-look-a-like 15-inch steelies that helped handling.
Nitrogen-filled shocks and some BFGoodrich Radial T/A rubber are about the only other modifications Gough has done. “It’ll leave Porsches behind you,” he says. “In Torque We Trust!”
Click yourself into full-screen mode, crank up the volume, and enter HD streaming to get the full effect of this ‘Cuda’s monstrous growl and tires-shredding torque.
NASCAR legend and ESPN racing analyst, Ray Evernham, unveiled a very cool, street-legal 1964 Plymouth Belvedere at the 2012 SEMA Show. The project, called "ForPly," was brought back to life by Sherwin-Williams Automotive and was built on a 1964 Belvedere as a tribute to the year when the car won the Daytona 500 and NASCAR Grand National Championship.
The ForPly features a distinctive Radiant Red automotive matte finish with Graphite racing stripes. For the interior, the tuner opted for a Graphite Grey color combined with carbon fiber inlay and bucket race seats.
The most amazing aspect of the modification was the upgrade for the engine. The ForPly is powered by an updated Dodge R5-P7 race engine with an impressive output of 750 HP. Other special features include NASCAR Sprint Cup shocks, custom 18-inch NASCAR-style wheels, NASCAR-style front splitter and rear spoiler, and an all-digital, backlit dual-display dashboard.
The Plymouth Belvedere ForPly by Sherwin-Williams Automotive will be put on auction at Barrett-Jackson’s Scottsdale Auction in January 2013. All proceeds will go to Evernham Family Racing - a foundation that funds the Autism Society of North Carolina.
RK Motors Charlotte is becoming rather famous for their “Pro Touring” lineup of vehicles. The latest rendition we came across was the 1970 Plymouth Hemi `Cuda, which was featured at SEMA in 2008.
For those that aren’t familiar with RKM’s “Pro Touring” cars, we’ll let you in on the secret. RKM takes a decent looking muscle car – so far we’ve seen a 1967 Sting Ray Corvette and a 1955 Ford Thunderbird – completely guts it, then restores it with mild modernization. So far, RKM has really impressed us with its perfect mixture of classic muscle with modern technology.
Some of the modern touches we have seen included are an LCD touch screen stereo and navigation system on the `55 T-bird, and an LS2 V-8 in the `67 Sting Ray, all while retaining the vehicle’s original character. This specimen appears to be much of the same perfection on the surface, but what does it look like as we pull back the layers?
Click past the jump to find out if the 1970 Plymouth Hemi `Cuda Pro Touring matches the blueprints of the two before it.
The 1967 model year was the debut year for the Plymouth Belvedere GTX, which most enthusiasts simply know as the Plymouth GTX. The GTX was always one of the top performers in the 1960s, but was also a refined muscle car, receiving the nickname “The Gentleman’s Muscle Car” in its early years. Unfortunately, the GTX was a late arrival to the muscle car area and only lasted five model years.
In its debut year, there were 12,115 models built, which makes it a rather rare car in itself. Options were not scarce for the 1967 GTX, as it had two engines available, a 425-horsepower, 426 cubic-inch V-8 Hemi or a 375-horsepower, 440 cubic-inch V-8. It also had two transmission options, a three-speed automatic and a four-speed manual.
In addition to the engine and transmission options, there was also coupe or convertible options available. One would assume that the convertible four-speed manual option with a Hemi would be a popular option combination, due to its raw power and ability to shift with the wind in you hair, but that’s not the case. Only seven of these convertible models with four-speeds and a Hemi engine rolled off of the assembly line in the 1967 model year.
That makes this one of the rarest vehicles on the planet, let alone one of the rarest muscle cars ever built. To boot, it is a natural rarity, as opposed to a planned one, like a special edition. It just so happened that dealers ordered so few of this option combination that the factory only produced a few.
If you want to own one of the most rare mass produced automobiles on the planet, now is your chance, as RK Motors Charlotte has just placed a convertible 1967 GTX with a Hemi and a four-speed up for auction on Ebay.
Now we know that it’s rare, but how has this vehicle held up over the course of the past 45 years?
Click past the jump to read our full review on this rare vehicle.
At one point Jay Leno was a normal gearhead, just like the rest of us. He was working at a car dealership in Massachusetts when he met and befriended a master mechanic and drag racer Paul Annunziata. Jay went on to become a huge TV star and Paul continued on his racing dream.
In the 1970s Annunziata decided he wanted to build a Pro Stock dragster that was also 100 percent street legal. Annunziata succeeded in building his 1,000-horsepower Duster and it went on to win numerous awards.
Sadly, Annunziata was stricken with lung cancer, so he decided it was time to let his Duster go. Instead of selling it to some random collector, Annunziata chose to donate the car to his old-time friend, Jay Leno, under the gentleman’s agreement that Leno would not sell the car.
Jay agreed not to sell the car, but refused to allow Annunziata to just give it to him. In a mutual agreement, Leno paid Annunziata an undisclosed amount for the car and Annunziata did the noble thing and donated the money to a local auto restoration school as a four-year scholarship.
Annunziata passed away in 2011 and Jay decided it was time to feature this beloved Duster on his show Jay Leno’s Garage, which you can see above. You even get to go for a ride in this amazing piece of machinery.
What’s more impressive are the five years that Annunziata spent building this car, so we decided to dig in and really show you what went into building this beast.
Click past the jump to read about the development of this 1,000-horsepower Duster.