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Old 04-23-2015, 09:28 AM   #1
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81-mile Hemi ‘Cuda set for million-dollar sale?

Tor Red Mecum Indy auction jewel has 81 original miles, five owners, 30 passes at the strip

The 1970 Plymouth Hemi 'Cuda is nothing short of a muscle car legend, born during what were arguably the brightest and the last years of the muscle-car craze. Just a few years before the dark days of the oil crisis, the 1970 Hemi 'Cuda debuted with an all-new design, an incredibly wide body and a range of seriously potent engines. The sight of a 1970-1974 Hemi 'Cuda is familiar enough to just about everyone who's glanced at the car magazine shelf at the local book store -- chances are there's one on the cover of at least one enthusiast publication every month -- but completely original 'Cudas are a bit of a rarity.

But in a couple of weeks, Mecum Auctions will offer a 1970 Plymouth Hemi 'Cuda with just 81 claimed original miles at their Indianapolis auction. How did this example manage to escape decades of use?

This story has a lot in common with mammoths frozen in permafrost during the last few centuries of the ice age. This 426-powered 'Cuda was a special-ordered by one Bill Reardon of Clarksburg, W.V., at Shreves Plymouth-Dodge in June of 1970. The car was built on May 25, 1970 at Chrysler's Los Angeles assembly plant, and was one of the last 10 'Cudas to be completed that year. The 'Cuda is said to have been Reardon's dream car and he ordered it in Tor red over a black interior, optioning it with a Shaker hood with a scoop painted in Argent, tie down pins, vinyl bucket seats, woodgrain console color-matching steel wheels with dog-dish hub caps, a Space Saver spare tire, Goodyear F60-15 Polyglas GT tires and a Torqueflite automatic transmission.

The 62-year-old was buying this car for a special purpose: he planned to take it drag racing and had purchased an extensive amount of aftermarket parts for the car that included a new exhaust system, new intake and carburetors, a new rear end, front shocks, and rear wheels and tires. He removed the stock parts but carefully stored them, taking the newly modified car to the drag strip a few times. But his dream was cut short -- Reardon passed away that very year. His widow died seven years later in 1977, and their son ended up selling the car and the removed stock parts to one Marvin Dillion, who would go on to fit them back on the car. The 'Cuda's odometer at that point in time showed just 42 miles.
Over the next 16 years, Dillion would go on to drive the car even less than its first owner during the car's birth year: he put just under one mile on the 'Cuda. The car continued to accumulate very minimal mileage going through the collections of three more owners, all of whom we imagine as being very patient individuals who must not have been in the habit of even taking test drives. By the time Hemi specialist John Arruza of Thomasville, N.C., purchased the car, the odometer showed a grand total of 61 miles. In Arruza's hand, the 'Cuda reportedly received a freshening that included a carburetor overhaul and a complete fluid change, with its newest owner putting only 12 miles on the car.

The 'Cuda now shows a claimed 81 miles on the clock, with Mecum reporting it to have the lowest mileage of any 1970 Hemi Cuda known to exist. As one would expect, it will be offered with its original broadcast sheet.
Mecum estimates this 'Cuda to bring between $600,000 to $800,000 during its auction on May 12, and we estimate it to gain a mile or two during the next decade or so. This is a bit of an extreme case of muscle-car worship, as three owners put a collective 19 miles on the car during a significant part of its life. With time capsules like these, opinion seems to be split into two camps -- we don't have to tell you what they are.

Fortunately, in this case the odometer doesn't show a high enough number like 7,000 miles for there to be genuine debate as to whether thrashing it on the weekends will make its value go down. The fact that this 'Cuda shows the lowest mileage of any known 1970 example makes it a bit of a special case even among other potential low-mileage examples that aren't necessarily in time capsule condition. The remaining questions in this auction include whether buyers trust the story and whether they will accept its partial disassembly early in life as negligible and immaterial.

We'll just have to see how the market values this time capsule, but it's safe to say that this will be one of the most talked-about cars in the sale.
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