Pretty in Pink: Unique 1970 Plymouth AAR 'Cuda Fetches Record-Breaking Sum at Auction

Even though it was introduced a couple of weeks before the 1964 1/2 Ford Mustang, the Plymouth Barracuda doesn't get much recognition as America's first pony car. But that's not exactly surprising given that it wasn't as popular as its Falcon-based competitor.

But the fact that it didn't sell by the millions plays to the Barracuda's advantage nowadays. The Mopar is notably rarer than most of its competitors from the golden muscle car era and certain versions are quite valuable and sought-after. The HEMI 'Cuda is the first that comes to mind.

The Barracuda didn't get the mighty 426-cubic-inch (7.0-liter) HEMI V8 until 1970. Well, Plymouth built 50 HEMI cars in 1968, but we're talking about a drag-prepped vehicle and not a typical muscle car available in showrooms.

While the Barracuda was somewhat popular in 1970 with almost 49,000 units sold, only 666 customers went with the HEMI option. That number decreased to only 114 units in 1971, the engine's final year on the market. In all, Plymouth sold only 780 HEMI 'Cudas over two model years and this low production number translates into six-figure stickers on the classic car market today.

But some of them cross the auction block for much more than that. I'm talking about the HEMI 'Cuda Convertible, arguably the rarest Barracuda out there. That's because Plymouth made only 14 in 1970 and just seven in 1971. How expensive can they be, you ask?

Well, one changed hands for $3.5 million in 2014, and another one failed to sell despite a $4.8-million high bid in 2021. Yes, "daaamn!" doesn't even begin to cover it.

But the HEMI isn't the only 'Cuda that's fetching big bucks nowadays. While not quite as expensive, the AAR 'Cuda is also moving deeper into six-figure territory. Far from surprising given that the AAR was only offered in 1970 as an homologation model for the Trans-Am series and production included just 2,724 units.

Come 2023 and many of them are no longer around or spend their retirement years in junkyards. As a result, restored examples have changed hands for more than $100,000 in recent years, while some have been auctioned off for almost $200,000.

Well, Mecum's Kissimmee 2023 auction just set a new benchmark for the AAR 'Cuda, moving an unrestored, all-original example for $308,000 (including fees).

Still wearing its factory Moulin Rouge paint and white upholstery, this AAR 'Cuda packs a numbers-matching 340-cubic-inch (5.6-liter) V8 under the hood. It's also a one-family-owned example with lots of options and the only known example in this drivetrain and color combo.

It's actually the white interior that makes it a one-of-one because all the other surviving pink AAR 'Cudas have black upholstery. Or at least that's the case with other examples I know of.

All told, this is the finest unrestored AAR 'Cuda out there and currently the most expensive of its kind when it comes to public auctions. And you can see it crossing the pond for more than $300K in the video below.

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