1968 Chevrolet Corvette L88 vs. 1971 Plymouth Hemi Cuda

The two-seat 1968 Chevrolet Corvette, designed as a true local sports car to compete with European imports, may not fit the muscle car label for many American muscle car aficionados. To the world at large, however, the car’s huge-block V8 engine options and low price made it a prime example of an ideal muscle car.

At the height of the muscle car era, the Corvette C3 Stingray debuted in 1968, featuring a race-specific L88 big-block engine variant. The 7.0-liter V8 has an estimated output of around 430 horsepower, while many believe production models have well over 540 horsepower when they leave the factory. Other improvements to the L88 included a heavy-duty 4-speed manual transmission, upgraded suspension and brakes, and the removal of air conditioning, heater, and radio options.

The Plymouth Barracuda debuted a few weeks before the Ford Mustang in 1964. Notably, while the Mustang competitor boasted sporty styling and low cost, it however spent most of its existence in the shadow of the much more successful Ford. Nonetheless, the iconic Hemi-powered ‘Cuda was among the most sought-after muscle cars of the classic era.

Related: 10 Classic Muscle Cars That Would Be Perfect With A Modern Engine

The Hemi ‘Cuda, released in 1970, featured a 7.0 lite V8 engine that produced 420 hp and could accelerate from rest to 60 mph in just 5.6 seconds. Additionally, its parts were designed with cartoonish colors and a “shaker hood scoop” protruding through the hood to help pump air into its engine.

Plymouth didn’t want to kill off their iconic Hemi V8 to satisfy new pollution laws, so the model was canceled in 1971 just after 115 vehicles were sold. Of course, this Hemi ‘Cuda is now a hugely collectable car, the rarest being the convertible variants, and it costs huge sums of money.

1968 Chevrolet Corvette L88 vs 1971 Plymouth Hemi Cuda: Under Their Hoods


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Via Motor Trend

The 1968 Chevrolet Corvette L88, like any racing vehicle, lacks a choke, fan shroud and, in some cases, a heater system. Without exhaust and running on racing gasoline, the L88 developed 600 horsepower, more than enough to win the 1967 12 Hours of Sebring. On the highway, the L88 could produce between 550 and 570 horsepower in factory version.

The L88 was more than just an engine upgrade. A Muncie M22 or M20 hydramatic drivetrain, a heavy-duty F41 suspension with redesigned shocks and coil springs, heavy-duty power-assisted brakes, a G81 positraction rear axle, and a single-cowl induction hood were all necessary factory additions.


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Via Mecum Auctions

The stock A833 4-speed manual transmission combined with a Hurst Pistol Grip shifter is one of the many reasons the Hemi Cuda is amazing. This option was only available on three vehicles. A vicious 7.0-liter Hemi 426 V8, which produces 425 horsepower and 490 pounds of torque. It comes standard with the A33 Track Pak, which features a sure-grip Dana sixty rear differential, 3.54 final drive ratio, as well as a heavy-duty engine cooling system.

Related: Plymouth Cuda Drag Races Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 in Total Wipeout

Their race-inspired interior and exterior designs


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Via Pinterest

The exterior and interior of the Corvette were extensively revised for the 1968 model year. The automobile was still available as either a convertible or a coupe, however, the coupe was now a hatchback with a nearly vertical removable rear window and removable roof panels. Convertibles came standard with a folding soft top, but an additional hard top with a glass rear window was available at extra cost.

Grab straps, along with a set of vinyl covers used to hold the roof panels in place, were included with coupes, as was a rear window storage tray above the luggage space. Disguised headlights on the durable new body moved into place using a vacuum-operated mechanism instead of being electric as on the previous generation, while new concealed wipers used a vacuum door embarrassing.


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Via Wallpaper Flare

The massive, baffled grille with the round headlights, pronounced rear fenders and horizontal three-bar taillights distinguish the 1970 Hemi Cuda. Compared to the second-generation Barracuda, the bumper is now fused with the body, and the roof is also slightly lower, blending in with the car’s relatively low and wider stance. All Hemi-equipped Cudas had the shaker hood option, along with race-inspired hood pins. Other decorative options for the HEMI Cuda included a variety of decal kits and high impact colors.

A minor facelift in 1971 included a redesigned grille and quad headlights for the Cuda’s front-end behavior, while the rear fascia featured single-piece taillights. Plymouth also incorporated four vents into the muscle car’s front fenders. Rubber bumpers as well as shaker hood variants remained.

1968 Chevrolet Corvette L88 vs 1971 Plymouth Hemi Cuda: dazzling performance


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Via Mecum Auctions

The L88 story begins with the introduction of Zora Arkus at Chevrolet. Duntov was the first to persuade Chevrolet to include a manual transmission and larger engine in the Corvette, turning the 1956 model into a true sports car. Duntov was later persuaded by Don Yenko and the Sunray DX Motorsports team to compete and modify the Chevrolet to the L88. This vehicle had to be a normal factory option to qualify for SCCA A-Production and FIA GT competition, which is why GM surreptitiously released it to the public.



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Via Mecum Auctions

Since its inception, the Corvette L88 has performed exceptionally well, and now it holds NCRS Top Flight, Performance Verification, Bloomington Gold and Duntov Mark of Excellence certifications, and has made it to MCACN for trifecta, receiving awards Gold and triple diamond contest.

The 1971 Plymouth Hemi Cuda is also a sports car that has had some very outstanding performance over time, and due to its iconic performance it is on its way to becoming one of the most expensive muscle cars ever sold.


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