Muscle Car Royalty: 1970 Hemi 'Cuda Convertible


"When you think of muscle cars, if there's a Holy Grail, it probably has to be this: the 1970 Hemi 'Cuda," said Jay Leno. On a recent episode of Jay Leno's Garage, Leno met with Craig Jackson, the Chairman and CEO of the famous Barrett-Jackson Auction company. Jackson is the owner of this stunning, all-original Hemi 'Cuda, and he explained to Leno how he came to own this very special car. Despite its rarity and multi-million-dollar value, Jackson still drives and enjoys it.

An Extremely Rare Find


In 1970, Chrysler reportedly built a total of 16,710 'Cuda coupes and 548 'Cuda convertibles, making original examples of the latter quite rare today. However, only 652 coupes and 14 convertibles that year were built with the legendary 426ci Hemi V8. Jackson's 'Cuda is one of those fourteen cars.


But it gets even more interesting than that — according to Jackson, this car was the only 1970 Hemi 'Cuda convertible to be exported outside the United States. According to the paperwork, this car was shipped to England as a gift for the chairman of British Steel for helping Chrysler through the steel industry strike. Although it was fully-equipped with options such as High-Impact paint, a power top, and power windows, it remained left-hand drive.

Restored Hemi 'Cuda Convertible


After its return to the United States, the car was fully restored to original specifications with NOS (new old stock) parts. Jackson purchased it in 1999 for a little over $100,000. Today, it could be worth 20 to 30 times that amount. One sold at auction in early 2024 for more than $2 million.


Interestingly, the 426 Hemi under the hood now is not the original engine, it's a Hemi crate motor that came with the car when Jackson bought it in '99. Luckily, Jackson was able to track down the original engine, but he hasn't installed it because he prefers to drive the car without worrying about damaging or devaluing the original block.


For someone like Jackson, who has owned and experienced many of the most expensive and prestigious classic cars in history, this 1970 Hemi 'Cuda is still something truly special. "This car means something to me... I've had almost all of the great muscle cars of the era, and a Hemi really is a cool car."

Check out the full video on this beautiful Hemi 'Cuda from Jay Leno's Garage:

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