A car from the golden age of muscle cars …
If you’ve read any of my posts, you know that I love cars with big V8 engines, especially the ones from the late 1960s and early 1970s. Of course, my dad having worked for American Motors, I’m partial to AMXs and Javelins, but I love them all like this week’s spot, a 1970 Barracuda.
Like the AMC Gremlin, it debuted on April Fool’s Day, but in 1964. Plymouth took a page out of Ford’s book, speeding up development time and keeping costs low by using the Ford Falcon, but in this case, the Cuda was based on Chrysler’s A-body Valiant.
This was the beginning of the pony car era, started by the Mustang, but soon after joined by the Camero, Firebird, Cuda, and Challenger.
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The new model used the Valiant’s 106-inch wheelbase along with the Valiant hood, headlamp bezels, windshield, vent windows, quarter panels, doors, A-pillar, and bumpers. Only the trunk and some of the glass were new. It wasn’t until the third generation, debuting in 1970, that anything left over from the Valiant was finally gone.
Consisting of coupe and convertible models, the all-new Cuda was built on a shorter, wider version of Chrysler’s existing B platform, the E-body. Dodge saw an opportunity and launched the Challenger and although it shared the same platform there were differences. They shared no exterior sheet metal and the Challenger, at 110 inches, had a wheelbase that was two inches longer, and a body five inches longer than the Barracuda’s.
Buyers had a choice of ten engines (image that) ranging from the base slant six all the way up to two 440s. Now you’d be lucky if you had two options.
|340 Six Pack||340ci||3x2bbl||290 hp @ 5000 rpm||345 lb-ft @ 3400 rpm|
|340||340ci||1x4bbl||275 hp @ 5000 rpm||340 lb-ft @ 3200 rpm|
|383||383ci||1x4bbl||330 hp @ 5000 rpm||425 lb-ft @ 3200 rpm|
|383||383ci||1x2bbl||290 hp @ 4400 rpm||390 lb-ft @ 2800 rpm|
|426 Hemi||426ci||2x4bbl||425 hp @ 5000 rpm||490 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm|
|440 Six Pack||440ci||3x2bbl||390 hp @ 4700 rpm||490 lb-ft @ 3200 rpm|
|440||440ci||1x4bbl||375 hp @ 4600 rpm||480 lb-ft @ 3200 rpm|
According to TopSpeed.com, a Cuda mated to either a four-speed manual or a three-speed TorqueFlite automatic, with a 426 HEMI got from 0 to 60 mph in only 5.8 seconds, the 0-to-100-mph sprint stood at 13 seconds, while top speed was rated at 117 mph. On the quarter-mile strip, the HEMI Cuda was one of the fastest muscle cars available, needing only 14 seconds to complete the run.
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So what are they worth now?
1970 was the best year in sales with 55,499 Barracudas sold, 25,651 base Hardtops, 1,554 base Convertibles, 18,880 ’Cuda Hardtops, 635 ’Cuda Convertibles, and 2,724 AAR ’Cudas. Obviously, the droptops command the most.
In 2015 a 1970 Plymouth Hemi Cuda convertible, one of just 14 produced, sold at auction for $2.5 million bucks but ones like this week’s spot are much more affordable. According to Hagerty, one in Fair condition will fetch just over $45,000, Good condition, $54,000, Excellent, $74,500, and $92, 200 all very reasonable prices for a piece of American automotive history. Because of the energy crisis in 1973, the end of the line for Cuda came in 1974.
But before that, this really cool concept had been produced featuring a Superbird-inspired aerodynamic body and it came close to being built. According to the website Chrome Fin Restorations, the prototype was taken to Cincinnati to be viewed by a consumer group for feedback and the results weren’t great, they weren’t even good.
“That wild body went to Cincinnati of all places, and it was a disaster,” remembers designer Milt Antonick. “I came back from Cincinnati and realized it was all over; management didn’t want muscle cars anymore. It was the saddest day of my career at Chrysler.” This would have easily rocked anything else in the market!
It’s really sad that the pony car era, which came back in 2008, is riding off into the sunset again with the emphasis on cars going green. Certainly electric cars with their fake ICE sounds will never replace the excitement and rumble of these cars.
Thanks for stopping by and be sure to check back next Friday for another one of my car spots along with some history behind it. Have a great weekend.