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Stories from Steve: 1971 Hemi Cuda – 4 Speed – Black on Black

Updated: Mar 11

It was 2002 and, in the summer, we were loaded with company orders, and it seemed there was a show somewhere in the country every week. Anyway, I got a call that there was an ad in the Plymouth section of Hemmings that read only this: “1971 Hemi Cuda for sale.”

I called, expecting nothing, and a woman answered the phone and in a gruff voice said, “That ad has been in Hemmings for a month now and I’ve had over 75 calls about the car”. I simply said, “Have you sold the car yet?” The woman said “no” then flew off the handle about how abrupt I was and not to call her back and then she hung up the phone.

Boy, I had a bunch of questions, but number one was “how do I get past this woman’s negative attitude.” Fortunately, a friend owned a garage nearby and we talk at most of the large classic car shows in New England so I called him next.He said that he knew the car was going to be sold in the future by the original owner and that I probably knew him from Oxford Raceway since we both raced there in the late 60’s and early 70’s. I asked if I could reach the owner where he worked. He said, “That’s easy this is his work number.”

So, I thought I was on “easy street” as I called him at work. Yes, he remembered my car at the race track but we never raced each other because he raced in the modified class and I raced in the super stock class. As far as his Hemi Cuda was concerned – it had not been sold – in fact he knew very little about the progress of the sale because he had turned the sale of the car over to his wife and she had been mum on the subject. I said she was not a friendly person - he agreed, but said she’d get top dollar for the car and it would go to the correct collection.

It was late in the week so on Friday I called his wife to set up a time and date for our first visit to see the car. She responded that I should be there by 8am on Monday morning because two men from down south were set to arrive on Monday afternoon. I gulped – one last question “Was one of the fellows from down south named D.P.?” – “Yes” she said. “I’ll be there at 8am”, I said.

I knew I was in trouble since D.P. and several other Mopar collectors lived in the South. I followed the instructions and arrived at her house just before 8am on Monday. This woman met me at the door and proceeded directly to the car in the garage. I looked at the VIN below the windshield and started to look at the engine code along with the transmission code. She turned into her true self and said, “You’re here to analyze the overall condition of the car – not here to check every little assembly number.” I said, “ok – ok you talk to the Southern guys and I’ll call you tomorrow to see if the car is still available.” I left.

Well, she was equally rough on D.P. and his associate. After they arrived, she produced an 8” x 11” notebook that she had entered every caller about the car and a brief synopsis of whether the caller was a good candidate for the car and its high price. Upon hearing the phone ring, she left the Southern guys alone with the car and more important she left the notebook with the car. They immediately started taking pictures of every page which had all the callers; their names, her impression of each caller, their phone numbers, and addresses. She returned via a different door – caught them taking the pictures, threw them out, and never discussed the car with them again.

I called her on Tuesday – she relayed the above story to me – I told her I’d be there the next day if she was available for me to extensively compare numbers against their and our paperwork. Her answer was “yes.”

Therefore, one of my employees, Kevin, and I were off for my second trip to see the rare 4 speed Hemi Cuda made in 1971. This time she sat and watched us look up every number we could think of plus she allowed us to access the broadcast sheet under the rear seat. Her husband had bought the car on 3/25/71 from Bodwell Chrysler-Plymouth in nearby Brunswick, ME.

I was impressed with the car and decided to negotiate the price with her right on the spot. She said “no, not today, we really don’t know how much to ask for the car at this time. You’ll have to have a discussion with my husband before we can figure out the price.” He was the man behind his wife after all, so I gave her a retainer fee and asked when I should call. She said in two days they’d have their figure. That’s fine, I’ll have my figures by then also – I’ll call in the evening.

I called Wednesday evening and got the word that they were ready with their figure. Kevin and I had the enclosed trailer with us on this trip so within one hour we had hashed out a feasible price, loaded the car, collected all the pertinent paperwork and were on our way home. It took three trips but it was well worth it!

Written in 2013 by Steve Ames

Note: Specific details/names were purposely changed to protect personal privacy.

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