1970 Hemi 'Cuda convertible
This amazing 1970 Hemi ‘Cuda convertible indirectly became the start of RPM’s association with Hemi Mopars and locating them back in the early 90’s.
From America to Chiswick and back to America
The car was originally sold new by Warwick Wright in Chiswick (this was the only 1970 Hemi ‘Cuda convertible exported from the States) to a British Steel executive. The car later appeared in this 1973 Autosport advert on sale for £3,000 ono - the car would have cost just under $5,000 new in the States. This car is one of 14 Hemi ‘Cuda convertibles built in 1970 and is a very rare car indeed, it’s scarcity matched only by the 1971 version, of which only 11 were built.
The ‘Cuda next appeared on the dragstrip being raced at Santa Pod by Mustapha Errol in the Pro Stock class, then at some point in 1974 the Rose brothers acquired the car and took the Hemi engine out for their “Cracklin Rose” 1971 race ‘Cuda, replacing it with a 340ci block.
Dave Rose then sold/swapped the car (for a Triumph Stag and some cash) to Sue and Gary Mills in Hornchurch with the 340ci engine, plus a Hemi engine and associated parts. The cars registration at this time was AME 465H. Gary was driving the ‘Cuda to work in the eighties and in 1988 decided to sell the car.
Meanwhile in the States Russell Myers a well-known American cartoonist (he drew “Broom Hilda”) was looking for a companion car to his 1971 Hemi ‘Cuda convertible - putting two and two together Peter Jordan introduced both parties and the sale was made. A grateful Russ Myers invited Peter and Chris White (who still does paintwork for RPM) over to his ranch in the States - they stayed a week and saw the car delivered in October 1988.
They also had an opportunity to see it alongside the ‘71 Hemi ‘Cuda convertible (which later went on to fetch $3.5 million at auction). Russell held onto the 1970 ‘Cuda until 1992 when it was sold eventually ending up with Craig Jackson (of Barrett Jackson Auctions), another Mopar enthusiast and collector. In order to maximize its appeal and value, Jackson restored the 'Cuda to a high yet authentic standard. His purchase included many of the NOS parts required for the job. "I'd been looking for one for several years and passed on several that weren't as nicely optioned or weren't colours I liked.
This one pressed all the buttons for me," he said. There was only one problem, where was the original Hemi engine? Jackson put the word out that he was looking for the original engine, at the same time Galen Govier well known Mopar expert) had been asked by someone in England about the history of the Hemi fitted in his AC Cobra kit car. Guess what - it was the ‘Cuda’s original matching numbers Hemi! Craig Jackson was told and after much hard bargaining acquired the engine. Because he drives his cars on a regular basis, the 'Cuda currently runs a factory replacement 1969 Hemi long-block and the original engine has been rebuilt, dyno'd, and sits on an engine stand at the Barrett-Jackson shop, awaiting installation should Jackson desire to do so.So the ‘Cuda has come a long way over the last 45 years, £3,000 to what’s it worth currently - hard to tell, a similar 1970 Hemi Cuda convertible went for over $2 million in 2006 and the 71 Hemi ‘Cuda convertible for $3.5 million at Mecum last year. Following his involvement Peter got the bug and in October 1988 joined up with Martin Savill and RPM’s Hemi hunting began - next target - a 1970 Hemi Dodge Challenger convertible that Peter had heard about in Sweden, but we’ll save that story for later.