If you're going to clone a high-dollar muscle car, you may as well go all-out and build something completely amazing, something like the rarest, most valuable muscle car of all: a 1971 Plymouth Hemi 'Cuda convertible. Then paint it Plum Crazy purple, put a 4-speed behind the engine, and detail it to show car standards inside and out to really blow people's minds.

Hemi 'Cuda convertibles are the Holy Grail of muscle cars. Most sources agree that there were only eleven 1971 Hemi 'Cuda convertibles ever built, and perhaps only three of those were 4-speed cars. If you can find one of them and then somehow convince the owner to part with it, expect it to cost you somewhere north of $2 or 3 million bucks. But if you don't have the several million dollars it takes to own of those ultra-rare 4-speed Hemi 'Cuda convertibles, try this beast on for size instead. It runs, drives, and looks just like one that might cost several million dollars, but you can actually enjoy this one on the street, all for a fraction of the cost of a real one. This one is probably a lot nicer than a perfectly restored original, too. Such is the beauty of the tribute car.

Starting with an ultra-clean '71 'Cuda convertible shell, this car is built from the ground up to be a top-quality Hemi tribute, with meticulous detailing and a ton of NOS and high-quality reproduction pieces, then finished with an over-the-top paint job that redefines flawless. Don't do any wild resto-mod or pro-touring tricks, just build a super sanitary factory-type Hemi 'Cuda ragtop, and make it perfect in every way. Decode the VIN and you'll quickly see that this was originally a 318 2-barrel car, but at this point, who cares? This car isn't about boring documentation and tag decoding and original equipment; it's about being the top dog of all top dogs.

Let's start with the exterior. First, yes, it's Plum Crazy purple, that wild and eye-grabbing '70s pop-culture hue that practically defined Mopar performance machinery. On this car, it was laid down on top of some immaculate prep work to some very nice sheetmetal. Even though it's not a real Hemi 'Cuda, building a car like this is not an inexpensive undertaking, so doing it right has got to be a priority. This car was definitely done right.

Once the panels were straight and smooth, the paint went on, the panels aligned, and everything was wet sanded to perfection. Then the white HEMI billboards were applied and buried under a few more layers of clear for a seamless, perfect finish. A little more wet sanding to get rid of any orange peel in the paint, then buff it all to a mirror-like shine. What you're left with is a spectacular purple convertible that just glows in the sunlight. It's impossible not to notice this car.

Mechanically, this car is pure Hemi 'Cuda, no two ways about it. The 800-pound horsepower factory under the hood bellows and roars just like they did new in '71, and grunts out great heaping shovelfuls of torque in any gear at any speed. There's an authentic Shaker hood scoop sitting on top of dual quads, just like you'd find on a real Hemi. The engine itself is a real cast-by-Mopar 426 block and heads, dressed in the proper Hemi Orange paint. Details like the valve covers, accessories, wiring and other bits and pieces are done the way the factory would have done it if they'd had unlimited time and resources to make every surface flawless. There's no overspray and no mass-production shortcuts under this hood. The symphony of original colors and textures is still there, it's just so much more melodic when every single component has been polished and fitted with precision and care. And again, this is a tribute car - nobody's looking at authenticity here, just craftsmanship and quality.

The engine is backed by an A833 4-speed manual driving a stout Dana 60 packed with 3.50 gears. You've never experienced acceleration like a Hemi, and this car pulls like a freight train in all 4 gears. Amazing.

The interior is as well done as any top-flight restoration, with new stuff everywhere. The high-back buckets sport new foams under the fresh white vinyl covers that replicate the factory pattern exactly. New door panels look too nice to touch, while the black carpet, dash, and console provide a great contrast to all that white vinyl. The power top is new and works perfectly, with a fresh white boot to cover it when it's folded. The dash is stuffed full of rebuilt gauges and fresh woodgrain appliqu├ęs on the dash and console give it a suitably '70s vibe. The odometer shows 389 miles since the car was completed, just enough to ensure that everything works as it should.

It really is a shame that you can't easily show off the undercarriage of a car like this. Glance underneath, and you'll see a fully detailed show chassis. Again, like the engine compartment, it is done to factory specifications but with ever so much more care taken in the job. The floors are as glossy and smooth as the exterior panels.