Barn-find Hemi ’Cuda uncovered in secret Midwest location

By Brandan Gillogly

(January 9, 2023) Ryan Brutt is a huge fan of muscle cars. Mopars, in particular. He chronicles his finds from small towns across the country in his YouTube channel, Auto Archaeology, and among his recent discoveries is one of the most sought-after muscle cars of all time. That’s right — a 1970 Hemi ’Cuda four-speed in the very desirable In Violet metallic.

The 426 Hemi is a legendary engine thanks to its monster cylinder heads that flow a tremendous amount of air and fuel. Combine the 425-hp, dual-quad engine with one of the lightest cars in Mopar’s fleet at the time and thus was born the Hemi ‘Cuda—a ready-made drag strip ruffian that many consider the pinnacle of Plymouth muscle car history. Combine that with one of the most iconic of Mopar’s High Impact colors and you’ve got the recipe for one seriously collectible Mopar. As we’ve seen in the past, the right color can make a Mopar muscle car a truly hot commodity, and In Violet is among the most desirable of all.

There’s a lot to unpack in this find, from the story of the car itself to how it ultimately ended up on Brutt’s channel. Initially, the current owner was in the market for a Dodge Challenger 440 Six Pack convertible but couldn’t find one. Instead he opted for its Plymouth cousin; the example he landed on just happened to be a Hemi four-speed model equipped with a shaker hood.

The Hemi’s air cleaner lid ordinarily makes for a fabulous sight when the hood is closed, but this one has had its twin four-barrel intake and shaker scoop removed in favor of a Hilborn mechanical fuel injection system. The stacks are gone, although it doesn’t take much to imagine a set of eight bell-mouthed stacks poking through the void where the shaker lid once lurked.

We called Brutt to learn more about this find and how it came together. The car came onto his radar back in 2015 but he didn’t get around to tracking it down until March 2018, when this video, posted last month, was filmed. He keeps a careful catalog of all leads and potential locations, with Google Earth and Google Streetview serving as his main tools. Naturally, he keeps a close eye on potential hiding spots in his travels, too.

Has the winter weather put a damper on his auto archeology? Brutt noted that the lack of any seriously heavy snow in the Midwest this season has kept car spotting going a bit longer than usual. “It’s been a real good time to go hunting,” he said. “Leaves are off the trees and there aren’t any bugs. All the foliage is down.” That means longer sight lines and fewer hiding places for cars parked in side yards or down driveways.

“I have 3000 pins on the map from 10 years of doing this,” Brutt added, noting that the majority of his leads are still unexplored; he often can only check up on out-of-the-way leads when plans to travel nearby overlap."

Our own Barn Find Hunter, Tom Cotter, has written and spoken at length about what it takes to turn up cool old cars, and Brutt has his own methods. Digital detective skills come in handy; in the case of this Cuda, he used some GeoGuessr tricks to home in on the location of the ‘Cuda based on a photo he found posted online. “This was probably the most hardcore sleuthing I’ve done,” Brutt told us.

We hope you let all this good advice sink in as a lesson but also as a warning: if you post a photo of your weathered Mopar muscle car online, the Auto Archeologist may come knocking.