Quite a few years ago, there was a B5 Blue, perfectly restored, HEMI ‘Cuda Convertible for sale on eBay. When it’s price hit the $950,000 mark and the reserve was still not reached, speculation was that the owner was merely price marketing his ‘Cuda. In 1970, there were 14 HEMI ‘Cuda convertibles made, and in 1971 that number was reduced to only 11. Some say there was only nine, and one person claimed to have the supposed 12th car, a third that was sent to France with the other two. Suffice to say, the HEMI ‘Cuda was a very rare gem; some of these ‘Cudas are valued at $2 million, while a couple of them have sold for over $3 million. Trump change, literally.
Even more rare, was the 1970 HEMI Challenger Convertible, at a mere 9 units built. But for some reason, the ‘Cuda fetches twice that of the rarer Challenger. Nonetheless, when it comes to the car itself you can either run with the big dogs and spend over $500K to more than $3 million for one of these rare E-body convertibles, or you can build the car from a willing donor vehicle, which is what happened with this HEMI Challenger RT convertible clone that we found on eBay recently.
No matter how you slice it, the early HEMIs were the bomb. Even just the name HEMI is like that old commercial where someone talks and everyone listens. So this nice tribute to the rare, nine-only, HEMI Challenger convertibles is going to cost you far less than the real ones, and considerably less than the ‘Cuda.
So what makes this car more special than some of the other clones we have seen? We know the word ‘clone’ should conjure up negative thoughts when it comes to other, lesser-valued vehicles. But for a car that most of us will never be able to buy this clone is as close to it as you can get. Working with experts and doing his best to get every detail right, the owner re-created this car rather than just slapped some cool parts on it and called it a clone.
Starting as a barn find in Lakewood, NJ, it had only 37,000 miles and was stored, covered, for over 23 years. While it may not be a numbers-matching car, it is however, a very good example of how to really build a clone – from the ground up, and on a rotisserie. This Challenger isn’t just a clone, however, it’s an improved clone with wider wheels and tires (thanks to a B-body Dana 60) and a 472 crate HEMI putting out 410 rwhp through a TCI Street Fighter A-727 Torqueflite trans.
All in all, it’s a great looking car with a much lower price tag than a real one. The fact that it’s a clone should only matter to those who are purists, because let’s face it: $500k+ for a real one? Way out of our league! Many of us may not be able to afford a car like this, but if you can - it all rides the same when you’re cruising down the street and nobody gets to ask you, “is that a real one?”