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The Incredible History of a $1.8M Repo

HOT ROD logo HOT ROD 2015-07-31 Jerry Heasley
1970 Plymouth Barracuda - Crazy Custom

In 1972, somebody lost one of the great muscle cars for $51.45, the sum for which the Bedford National Bank of Bedford, Iowa, repossessed this real R-code 1970 Plymouth Hemi Barracuda convertible.

Wade Ogle ran across a copy of this old lien in the files he inherited as he prepared his 'Cuda for Mopars at the Strip this past spring. He credits Galen Govier for sending the Iowa DMV a couple bucks for a title history in 1992.

Wade is perhaps the preeminent collector of E-Body Hemi convertibles in the world. He owns a '70 'Cuda convertible, a '71 'Cuda convertible, and a '70 Challenger R/T, also a Hemi, also a convertible. Production figures total 12 for the '71 Hemi 'Cuda convertible and 18 for the '70 model. Many sources incorrectly record the '70 Hemi 'Cuda convertible total as 14. There were 14 built for domestic sale, but three more were built for export to Canada and one for export to England.

Wade breaks down the 18 further into 12 automatics and six with four-speed transmissions. Wade's ride is one of these six four-speeds, fitted with a select few options. He figures the first owner ordered the car with performance in mind, but "on a budget." The car has "no power anything," Wade says. In fact, aside from the Hemi motor and convertible body style, the original owner paid extra just for the four-speed, In Violet High Impact paint, Rallye gauge package, AM radio, tinted windshield, undercoating, and Track Pak, consisting of the maximum cooling system, Hemi suspension, and Dana 60 axle fitted with the base 3.54:1 gears in a Sure-Grip differential. Even the convertible top on this multimillion-dollar 'Cuda is manual.

1970 plymouth barracuda front driver side © Provided by Hotrod 1970 plymouth barracuda front driver side

"It's almost irresponsible that a car like this could exist," says Wade. "With this much power, but inadequate suspension, tires, user controls, and braking system, this particular car should have been wrapped around a tree on its first day out."

In 2007, Wade bought the car from Steve Klein who, with his partner, bought it in 2001 for roughly $375,000 from longtime owners Kevin and Sandy Faris. This six-figure price was unheard of at the time for an unrestored, color-changed car. However, less than two years later a '71 Hemi 'Cuda convertible sold for a cool million dollars even. Prices would go on to double and even triple, reaching three to five-plus million at their zenith.

The Farises found the car in 1972 at Bryant Motors in Plattsmouth, Nebraska. Joe Bryant had purchased the repossession from the Bedford National Bank for $750. The 'Cuda was believed to have been sold new to a heavy-footed 18-year-old through Baxter Chrysler/Plymouth in Omaha, which later sold the car, now with 8,000 miles on it, to a Roger Davison in the summer of 1971. A friend bought the car three weeks later and owned it for six months before the bank's repossession.

The very night Bryant's dealership got the 'Cuda, the owner's brother-in-law spun a bearing. Bryant pulled the wounded Hemi and transmission and, with 10,223 miles on the clock, sold the powerless car to the Farises as-is for $850. Bryant also sold off the Dana 60 but installed a B-body Dana 60 as part of the sale. Kevin Faris installed a 340 Six Pack motor and covered the Shaker opening in the hood with a Super Stock scoop.

A year or so later Bryant called the Farises and asked if they would like to buy the original 426 they kept tripping over in their shop. The price was $325. Money was tight, but the Farises said yes and also agreed to redo the wiring in Bryant's house in exchange for the original transmission.

A couple of years after the Farises bought the 'Cuda, the paint became an issue. Wade believes Chrysler had quality problems with the In Violet because the paint decayed rather rapidly. The Farises took the car back to Bryant Motors for a custom paintjob—a psychedelic deep silver metalflake on top and purple with multicolored metalflake flames along the lower side—that remained on the 'Cuda even after the sale to Klein. Wade recently put the car back to stock but was criticized for removing the custom paint.

This ’Cuda became famous in its metalflake silver paintjob. The car had this paint from the early ’70s until the recent Roger Gibson ground-up restoration to concours stock. © Provided by Hotrod This ’Cuda became famous in its metalflake silver paintjob. The car had this paint from the early ’70s until the recent Roger Gibson ground-up restoration to concours stock.

Wade says, "The paint became like folklore because it was on this car so many years. That was the custom one, the crazy custom one."

As it turned out, the custom paint helped save the car.

The Farises pulled the motor and painted the entire engine compartment and trunk silver. They painted the transmission and the driveshaft bright orange. All that thick and expensive paint, and the care the Farises subsequently took with their customized prize, protected this 'Cuda from the harsh conditions that ate away at so many other cars.

Roger Gibson restored Wade Ogle’s ’Cuda to the assembly line workmanship standards of 1970. Owing to Roger’s experience and expertise, Wade’s car may be the best-restored ’70 Hemi ’Cuda convertible in the world. © Provided by Hotrod Roger Gibson restored Wade Ogle’s ’Cuda to the assembly line workmanship standards of 1970. Owing to Roger’s experience and expertise, Wade’s car may be the best-restored ’70 Hemi ’Cuda convertible in the world.

Wade says, "Although they were going the full custom route, the Farises had the foresight to preserve as much of the car's originality as possible." The 340's custom motor mounts left the Hemi's K-member intact; they kept the manual steering components when they converted to power steering; and as they made other performance improvements over the years, "they wisely kept the original components, including the original bellhousing, starter, distributor, and idler arm. I got the car virtually intact, with all its factory parts."

Prior to applying the psychedelic paint, the Farises carefully removed and kept the original Shaker decal from under the hood, the door VIN decal, the tire pressure decal from the driver-side quarter, and even the jack instruction decal from the trunk lid. They also kept the original fender tag and repainted it silver, preserving the metal in pristine condition.

At the Mopars at the Strip show in Las Vegas, Wade displayed these original body parts with the old custom paint. He also included a copy of the Shaker, VIN, tire pressure, and jack instructions decals that the Farises had removed. These decals came off with little problem because they were removed when the car was just a few years old. © Provided by Hotrod At the Mopars at the Strip show in Las Vegas, Wade displayed these original body parts with the old custom paint. He also included a copy of the Shaker, VIN, tire pressure, and jack instructions decals that the Farises had removed. These decals came off with little problem because they were removed when the car was just a few years old.

When Steve Klein bought the car, he contracted Galen Govier to perform a comprehensive inspection. Per Govier's report, the points of contention were the incorrect paint and general wear, plus the incorrect B-Body axle. In the car they found two pristine copies of the factory broadcast sheet, and Govier confirmed that the engine, transmission, broadcast sheets, fender tag, and body codes were factory correct for the car.

During Klein's seven years of ownership, the colorful 'Cuda adopted the name The Bass Boat, as its metalflake paint was similar to the finish found on many fishing boats. One year at the Mopar Nationals, Klein's friends filled the 'Cuda with fishing poles.

Wade had no qualms about the repaint to stock, and neither did his restorer, Roger Gibson. The early custom paintjob, and the foresight of the Farises, preserved the car's originality to the point that Gibson said this was one of the best bodies he had ever seen. The car was restored using its original parts whenever possible and primarily treated to N.O.S. and excellent date-code-correct used parts when not. To correct the 'Cuda's only flaw, Wade found a pristine E-Body Dana 60 axle assembly with a date code to match the 'Cuda's February 1970 scheduled build date.

As a nod to the car's eclectic history, Wade wisely kept some of the psychedelic components—the metalflake-slathered Shaker bubble, trunk lid, and grille assembly—and mounted them on a special display to honor the car's colorful past.

Wade bought the 'Cuda for slightly less than Klein's eBay asking price of $1.8 million. He sees value here for several reasons, primarily the unique character of the E-Body Hemi convertibles, particularly in the 'Cuda.

Believe it or not, at one time you could have owned this ’Cuda for the princely sum of $51.45. Wade found this lien paper in the documents that traveled with his car. He blacked out the name of the owner who had the convertible repossessed. © Provided by Hotrod Believe it or not, at one time you could have owned this ’Cuda for the princely sum of $51.45. Wade found this lien paper in the documents that traveled with his car. He blacked out the name of the owner who had the convertible repossessed.

"Chrysler did what nobody else did. They put the best engine they had into their pony car convertible," he says. "Chevrolet didn't make a Camaro ZL1 convertible. Ford didn't make a Boss 429 Mustang convertible. Pontiac offered their Trans Am in a convertible in 1969, but none were ordered with the exotic RA-IV engine."

Wade says, "The 'Cudas and Challengers were the smallest body style with the biggest engines. That's what a muscle car is all about: small body, big engine. And although the Challengers are more rare, the shorter wheelbase and arguably sportier styling of the 'Cuda are why they garner the most attention from collectors today."

While the Hemi 'Cuda convertibles soared in value alongside other muscle cars through the first decade of this 21st century, reaching up to $2.2 million for an orange automatic at Barrett-Jackson in January 2006, rarity and desirability appear to be keeping these drop-top pony cars immune to economic pressures. Earlier this year one of the other 12 automatic '70 Hemi ‘Cuda convertibles, a white-on-red, no-excuse example, sold at auction for $1.705 million.

And to think somebody in Iowa let the car go back to the lien holder for $51.45! That's the kind of provenance few multimillion-dollar collectibles can boast. MCR

For a while, there was a 340 Six Pack under the ’Cuda’s hood, but the original Hemi is back where it belongs. Wade believes the sparkle in this shaker is what inspired the custom paintjob. © Provided by Hotrod For a while, there was a 340 Six Pack under the ’Cuda’s hood, but the original Hemi is back where it belongs. Wade believes the sparkle in this shaker is what inspired the custom paintjob.

At a Glance
1970 Hemi 'Cuda
Owned by: Wade & Aster Ogle, San Jose, CA
Restored by: Roger Gibson Restoration, Scott City, MO
Engine: 426ci/425hp Hemi V-8
Transmission: A-833 4-speed manual
Rearend: Dana 60 with 3.54 gears and Sure-Grip
Interior: Black vinyl bucket seat
Wheels: 15x7 steel with dog dish hubcaps
Tires: F60-15 Goodyear Polyglas GT
Special parts: Track-Pak, Hurst Pistol Grip shifter, Rallye gauges, In Violet High Impact paint, AM radio, tinted windshield, undercoating

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