A few days back, I mentioned that, for car enthusiasts, there are some cars you "get" without thinking about them, and some cars you don't. And until the first time I drove a 426 street Hemi, I have to confess, I didn't get it. To me, it was just another big engine with all this mythology around it. But it's not. This huge block from 50 years ago, often referred to as an "Elephant," revs like a 2.0-liter Honda. By all rights, it should be a truck engine. Yet, run it on a dyno and you find out with 463 hp. That was in 1965, in an engine sold for passenger cars. That's the magic of driving a Hemi car: This thing under the hood will scream like a sports car and be happy doing it.
According to marque guru Galen Govier, Plymouth built 284 four-speed Hemi 'Cudas for 1970, six in the "high impact" color In Violet (Plymouth's name for the same Dodge Plum Crazy), is being auctioned at Russo and Steele. Predicting what it will bring is entertaining. If you haven't been following along, Hemi cars have had an enormous boom and bust cycle over the last decade. In 2003, six figures was a notable sale for a Hemi 'Cuda, but by 2006, you couldn't touch the same car for $500,000. And a year later, they'd dropped by half, then half again, until this car—highly and accurately restored with good options—was advertised at an ambitious $288,888 earlier in the year. I don't think a coupe has sold for over $200,000 at auction since 2008, although a few really special cars (one owner, original carburetors, and so on) have seen bids up that high.
I hope it goes cheap. When cars get expensive, people don't drive them. I understand the need to preserve King Alfonso's Hispano-Suiza, but this is a Plymouth. And seeing and hearing a Hemi car on the road is good for the soul.