Big Hemi


There are plenty of legends in the muscle car world, but a few names stand taller than most, with “Hemi ‘Cuda” being one of the giants. Rare, fast, and outrageously expensive, even when they were new, the one everyone universally acknowledges as the one to own is the 1971 version. The only year for quad headlights, the ’71 has a distinctive look that’s still one of the best shapes to ever come out of the Chrysler design studios.

Now, that’s not to say that a good thing couldn’t be made better, and this absolutely stunning 1971 Hemi ‘Cuda takes everything that was awesome about the original and turns it up to 11. More power, more handling, more brakes, more style, it all comes together in one of the most incredible Pro-Touring machines we’ve ever seen. The build cost more than a quarter-million dollars and has been featured in magazines around the world. It has won virtually every show it has entered and with just 2500 miles on the build plus a freshly installed FAST fuel injection system from Bair Customs, it’s totally sorted and ready to rock and roll. This car simply stops traffic everywhere it goes and flat-out stomps anything this side of a Viper out on the streets.

Don’t get me wrong, this ain’t no stock ‘Cuda, but after you see the quality of the build and the hardware underneath, you won’t care a bit. It was built by Street Concepts in Anaheim, California, who are noted for building show cars that stop people in their tracks at places like SEMA and NAIAS, so it should be no surprise that this car is jaw-dropping in person. The DNA is pure ‘Cuda and there’s no mistaking the shape or the details, but once you’re up close you will start to see the little differences. The first that you’ll likely notice is that the door handles, side marker lights, and mirrors have been shaved. The net effect is to make the ‘Cuda look incredibly sleek and smooth, which is the point, I suppose. There’s a correct Shaker hood scoop on the hood and the “gills” in the fenders remain, a particularly appealing design element that is a big part of the ‘Cuda’s look. Park this one next to a stock ‘Cuda and you’ll start to notice a few other tricks, including modified bumpers that are smoothed, shaved, and tucked in tight to the body for a clean look. There’s also a custom tail panel with flush-mounted taillights, keeping the stock look but just different enough to cause a lot of double-takes. And the original rear valence, which had exhaust cut-outs, is now a smooth piece that integrates neatly with the undercarriage, offering a very sleek look.

Of course, it goes without saying that the workmanship is exemplary, and when people see this car, their first comment is usually, “Wow, that’s some straight bodywork!” There’s not a ripple or wave anywhere on the car, the gaps are remarkably tight, particularly for a Mopar, and the paint is miles deep. That only comes with time and time equals money, and there’s obviously a huge amount of both invested in this car’s sheetmetal. Some of the body panels are original, some are new, but they’re all beautiful and at this point, this car has passed beyond the realm of pedigrees, so quality is really the only barometer that matters. The paint is PPG Lava Red and it’s just about the most perfectly red paint we’ve ever seen. It’s deep, rich, and nearly flawless in every way, ready for the show field any time but also happy to prowl the streets. It’s high-visibility, and make no mistake: every driver with an ounce of testosterone in him will lock on to this car like a homing beacon. The blacked-out hood treatment and adjustable Go-Wing out back certainly help, and it comes by its HEMI hockey stick graphics honestly.

The interior got a full makeover as well. Most of the surfaces that were originally vinyl are now covered in black leather, all beautifully stitched together with red thread for a very custom but subtle look. Original pieces like the door panels and dash pad were likewise wrapped and tailored for a custom look and those gorgeous Cobra Sidewinder seats are all-day comfortable but perfectly happy to hit the track as well. Even the back seat was stitched to match, so it all has a very cohesive look. The original instruments are still in the dash, but now wear silver faces with red lettering so it’s familiar yet modern and they’re all wrapped in a carbon fiber fascia. There are also Stewart Warner dials for oil temperature, transmission temperature, and oil pressure down low on the right, with controls for the A/C on the left. A custom center console was fabbed up and wrapped in more black leather, and it includes the trick Kenwood touch-screen entertainment system that powers a set of MB Quart amplifiers in the trunk plus speakers throughout the interior. The console also houses power window switches, and a big, red ENGINE START button in the center. The B&M shifter manages a TorqueFlite 3-speed automatic transmission and you’ll note the little black button on the shifter—hit it and the Gear Vendors overdrive drops into gear and the LED indicator on the console goes from red to green. Cool right? The trunk is fully outfitted with custom side panels with access to the amplifiers and a small panel with the battery cut-off switch and access to the electricals inside.

Building a car like this means pushing boundaries, and while you might expect to see a late-model Hemi motor, you’re in for a pleasant surprise. Yes, it’s a Hemi, and yes, it’s fuel injected, but this is a 540 cubic inch ALL ALUMINUM Hemi and opening the hood will stop traffic at any car show you attend. There are acres of polished aluminum under the hood, as everything from the block to the accessory drive was smoothed, filed, and buffed to show levels. A custom Magnumforce engine plate holds it in place, augmented by a set of anti-torque straps that tie into the custom front subframe. Up top, there’s a brand new FAST fuel injection system, replacing a finicky 4-barrel carburetor, and thanks to the pros at Bair Customs, it starts quickly, idles easily, and doesn’t mind sitting in traffic—try that with your dual-quad Hemi! All told, it makes somewhere north of 600 horsepower and probably an equal amount of torque. There’s also plenty of eye candy to be found, with all the plumbing and electrical wires neatly trimmed and stashed out of sight whenever possible. A giant BeCool aluminum radiator and electric fan keep it cool and the brakes are hydro-boost assisted. And, of course, it goes without saying that the inner fenders and firewall were smoothed and finished to the same standards as the bodywork, giving the engine bay a show-worthy look.

The car was built on a rotisserie, so the underside is as spectacular as the top. The front suspension is from Magnumforce and uses a tubular K-member and A-arms with a set of adjustable coil-over shocks, while out back you’ll find an ultra-trick Speedway Engineering quick-change rear end hanging on a Streetwize 4-link system. There are currently 3.55 gears inside the quick-change, but as the name implies, you can change that pretty easily, but with the overdrive and the Hemi’s massive torque, we can’t imagine anyone wanting more than this car delivers. And if you’re familiar with quick-change rear ends, it has the most awesome mechanical gear sound this side of the drag strip, making this car sound formidable before you even get on the throttle. When you do, it barks through a set of beautifully made TTI ceramic-coated headers and a custom Bassani exhaust system that uses side-exit trumpets, AAR-style. There’s a Wilwood disc brake the size of a trash can lid at each corner with six piston calipers in front and four piston units in back for truly massive stopping power. And speaking of massive, the wheels are one-off forgings made just for this car by GFG, measuring 20×8.5 in front and 20×11.5 in back and shod in fresh 255/40/20 front and 315/35/20 rear Toyo Proxes performance radials. Even with the trick suspension and massive 20-inch tires, the car rides rather well without crashing and banging over bumps.

Copyright Big Hemi. All rights reserved · Formerly Big Hemi Customs