The beautiful yellow Barracuda on Nash Bridges is far more unique than it seems

By: H&I Staff    Posted: December 9, 2022, 4:49PM

Every hip television cop needs a sweet ride. Nash Bridges certainly had the wheels to make even Starsky and Hutch drool. On the police drama, Nash (Don Johnson) cruised around in a vintage Plymouth Barracuda. It was in mint condition considering it was about three decades old.

Nash was always quite protective of his beloved 'Cuda. With good reason. Turns out, the vehicle that this San Francisco Police Department employee would have been worth a jaw-dropping amount. Because it was a rare beast. Let's learn more…

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Only a handful of 1971 Hemi Convertibles were ever made.

The 1971 model was a special one for the Barracuda. It was the only year to feature four headlights and the distinctive fender "gills." Plymouth also modified the grille, taillights and trim. There were other various options, engines, transmissions and styles available, too. For starters, you could get either a hardtop or a convertible, both seen here in this 1971 ad. However, the convertible '71 'Cuda with a Hemi engine was exceedingly rare. By various accounts, only seven (Original Challenger and Barracuda 1970-1974 by Jim Schild) to eleven ( such automobiles were made. Whatever the number, if Nash would have been one of the very, very few driving one around the turn of the millennium.


The color is one "Curious" tale.

Nash Bridges star Don Johnson had a lot of input into what kind of car his character would drive. The actor had a particular yellow 'Cuda in mind he had seen in a vintage photograph, perhaps much like the one above. However, the photo he was using as a reference was deceptive, as it was taken at sunset, giving the yellow a different hue. The original 'Cuda came in a color called "Curious Yellow," which had more of a neon chartreuse tint, seen here. (Other colorful 'Cuda paint names included "Sassy Grass" and "In-Violet.") Unfortunately, that Curious Yellow did not look too hot on camera. So the production painted Nash's cars a brighter school-bus yellow from Sherwin-Williams. (Nash's ride was closer to the "Bahama Yellow" paint option.)


There were actually several cars used on the show.

We say "Nash's cars" with good reason — he had more than one. Some accounts claim four Barracudas were used in filming, others count six. None of them actually had Hemi engines. Nor were they all technically 1971 Barracudas. The primary production vehicle, Nash Bridges #1, was originally a 1970 'Cuda convertible with a 340 V-8 and a four-speed manual transmission. It was aesthetically updated to resemble the '71 model.

Image: The Everett Collection


A real Hemi Convertible Barracuda can fetch millions of dollars today.

It's a shame Nash was not driving a real '71 'Cuda Hemi convertible, because it might have provided a better retirement than his police pension. In 2014, one of the original '71 Hemi 'Cudas sold at auction for a whopping $3.5 million. It was the most expensive Chrysler product ever sold at auction at the time, according to Autoblog.

Image: The Everett Collection


The man who provided the cars also had other creative business endeavors.

Hollywood car supplier Frank Bennetti provided the Nash Bridges production with the Barracudas. In 1992, Bennetti made the pages of The Los Angeles Times for another business endeavor, a drive-thru condom shop. Bennetti and his business partner purchased an old Fotomat booth to transform into a condom supplier with the hope of erasing the "embarrassment" of going into a store, or so the article explained. The paper wrote: "You don't even have to leave your car," Bennetti, 50, an auto body shop proprietor, said. Sadly, the reason the place made the news was that it was vandalized just as it was opening. (That is, assuming this was the same Los Angeles auto shop owner named Frank Bennetti.)

Image: The Everett Collection