Plymouth Hemi Cuda Pro Stock

The real thing is the real thing, and nobody could argue that the people involved in the verification of this 1971 Pro Stock Hemi Barracuda were the right ones. Driver Ronnie Sox (who has since passed), team manager Buddy Martin and fabricator Dave Christie all personally inspected the as-found car and agreed that it was indeed their ’71 Plymouth. As its original constructor along with the late Jake King, Mr. Christie was instrumental in making sure the details were correct during its refreshing, and even assisted in applying the proper lettering before its first public showing. This is the very car the legendary Sox & Martin team raced that season.

Dave Christie was no stranger to drag racing, having come from the west coast as a well-respected mechanic in the Stock and Super Stock ranks.With Buddy Martin aggressively searching for professional-level associates, he and team partner Joe Fisher (Christie & Fisher) both ended up working for the Sox & Martin business as the organization expanded into a full-fledged racing and racecar construction operation in 1970.

As for Sox, how well did he do in 1971? Of the eight final rounds of NHRA Pro Stock that season, Sox was in six of them and won all appearances, meaning he lost just two rounds of racing the entire season! Victories at Pomona, Gainesville, Dallas, Montreal, Indianapolis and Ontario signaled true dominance, one which NHRA determined would never occur again for the Hemi engine when it drastically rewrote the rules for 1972. In fact, Ronnie Sox would never win another NHRA national event following this season, nor would any 426 Hemi win another Pro Stock World Championship. Sox also won five IHRA crowns as well as two open events with the Cuda in 1971.

The car being offered here is noted as the same one that Sox campaigned that year. Beginning with an acid-dipped shell, the vehicle had been very carefully created to allow mild forward movement of the wheelbase to create the exact NHRA legal balance of 48-percent front/52-percent rear weight distribution. It utilized 1971 Road Runner rear wheelhouses for tire clearance, and the thin shell was hard-foam-filled to prevent flexing at higher speeds; for structural reasons, the now-mandated full-roll cage as a result was another big advancement and help made the car consistently fast and able to withstand the abuse of 4-speed-pounded Hemi power. Coupled with King’s precise engine construction and Sox’s lightning-fast shifting skill, the final package was literally unbeatable in NHRA Pro Stock, failing just once mechanically and being outdriven just once, at the 1971 NHRA World Finals.

The car was located while still being actively raced as a sportsman car in 2003 and was first verified by original Sox & Martin team-fabricator Christie as being a Sox & Martin-constructed car, and evidence based on secondary ownership pointed to it being the 1971 Barracuda that Ronnie drove himself. Before the restoration began, Christie signed a letter of agreement that verified that this car is the original 1971 Sox & Martin team car that was campaigned by Ronnie Sox in 1971. The restoration process was done with great care to maintain as much of the acid-dipped body as possible due to the car’s later racing modifications. Still surprisingly intact, fiberglass from the original supplier was secured for the front clip, and attention soon turned to making sure all the details were faithfully represented on the refurbishment. Noted collector, Mike Guarise, consigned the car to Mecum’s 2007 Belvidere auction where it was acquired by the current owner.

For horsepower, a built 426 Hemi iron short-block received all the best circa-1971 parts; these included the authentic aluminum twin-plug Chrysler cylinder heads fired by paired magnetos, dual #6214 Holley Pro Stock-designated carbs with milled-down air horns, the Wieand high-RPM design intake manifold with quenched plenum area, and a Crane cam custom-ground to secret 1971 Sox & Martin specs among others. Behind this went a Chrysler aluminum-case New Process 4-speed, the design Ronnie Sox swore by in taking wins, and a bulletproof Dana 60 with 5.57 gears finish the driveline. Vintage Hurst Airheart brakes still stop the car, mounted behind the Keystone Klassic wheels.

This car began as a 1971 Barracuda shell created and acid-dipped under Chrysler direction specifically for racing and has had a Hemi in it from the day it was built. Based on research, this car was also the final NHRA-winning machine of Ronnie Sox, from the final year that the Hemi engine dominated the class. Indeed, sans the rules revisions, there was no end in sight to Sox’s capabilities in this car; as Plymouth wryly noted in 1965 advertising when NASCAR took a similar tact against the engine—“If you can’t beat them, outlaw them!” Featured among the standard-bearers in the book “Million-Dollar Muscle Cars,” one determined buyer could continue this amazing legacy with this extremely rare opportunity to own a real Sox & Martin vehicle.

Source: Mecum Auctions
Photo Credit: Maggie Pinke

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