Plymouth ’Cuda (1970)

The tough-sounding ’70s ’Cuda was one of the last flowerings of America’s performance binge. Furiously fast, it was a totally new incarnation of the first ’64 Barracuda and unashamedly aimed at psychopathic street-racers. Cynically, Plymouth even dubbed their belligerent model lineup “The Rapid Transit System.” ’70 Barracudas came in three styles—the ’Cuda was the performance model—and nine engine choices, topped by the outrageous 426cid Hemi.

Chrysler’s advertising men bellowed that the Hemi was “our angriest body wrapped around ol’ King Kong hisself.” But rising insurance rates and new emission standards meant that the muscle car was an endangered species. By 1973 Plymouth brochures showed a ’Cuda with a young married couple, complete with a baby in the smiling woman’s arms. The party was well and truly over.

NEAT DESIGN

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The ’70 ’Cuda’s crisp, taut styling is shared with the Dodge Challenger, and the classic long-hood-short-trunk design leaves you in no doubt that this is a pony car. Government legislation and hefty insurance rates ensured that this was the penultimate year of the big-engined Barracudas; after ’71, the biggest block on offer was a 340cid V8.

PINS

Quick-release hood pins were an option.

AIR CLEANER

Unsilenced air cleaners such as this weren’t allowed in California because of drive-by noise regulations.

STRIPING

Optional inverted hockey stick graphics trumpeted engine size.

PERFORMANCE PARTS

Super Stock springs and a heavy-duty Dana 60 rear axle were standard on all 440 ’Cudas.

AIR CLEANER

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The air cleaner vibrated (“shaked”) through the top of the hood, a standard ’Cuda feature.

SALES FIGURES

Total 1970 ’Cuda production was a healthy 30,267 units.

ENGINE

The 440cid “six-pack” Magnum engine cranked out 385 bhp and drank through three two-barrel Holley carbs, explaining the six-pack label. Base engine was a 383cid V8, which pushed out 335 horses.

OVERHEAD STYLING

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Plymouth stylists kept the shape uncluttered, with tapered-in bumpers, concealed wipers, flush door handles, smooth overhangs, and subtly flared wheel arches. Even so, the ’Cuda had ballooned in proportions since the first Barracuda models of the mid-Sixties and, along with the Mustang now started to lose its raison d’être. With the energy crisis just around the corner, its days were numbered.

RACING MIRRORS

Color-coded racing mirrors could be ordered for $26.

COLOR CHOICE

’Cudas came in 18 strident colors, with funky names like In Violet, Lemon Twist, and Vitamin C.

BIG-BLOCK SPEED

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The 440-6 was a $250 ’Cuda engine option that allowed the car to hit the quarter mile in 14.44 seconds. Only 652 1970 ’Cuda hardtops were equipped with the $871 Street Hemi V8.

TRANSMISSION

Quick manual upshifts were possible with the Slap Stik T-handle.

HIDDEN WIPERS

Windshield wipers were neatly concealed behind the rear lip of the hood.

DECLINING FIGURES

plymouth-cuda-1970-rear

Though ’Cuda hardtop models cost $3,164 in 1970, by ’74, total Barracuda sales for the year had slipped to just over 11,000, and it was axed before the ’75 model year.

TWIN EXHAUSTS

Provocative square exhausts left no doubt about the ’Cuda’s grunt.

’CUDA BADGE

plymouth-cuda-1970-logo

’Cuda was a slang name coined by Woodward Avenue cruisers.

INTERIOR

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’Cuda interiors were flamboyant, with body-hugging bucket seats, Hurst pistol-grip shifter, and wood-grain steering wheel. This model has the Rally instrument cluster, with tachometer and oil pressure gauge.

S P E C I F I C A T I O N S


MODEL Plymouth ’Cuda (1970)

PRODUCTION 30,267 (1970)

BODY STYLES Two-door, four-seater coupe and convertible.

CONSTRUCTION Steel unitary body.

ENGINES 383cid, 426cid, 440cid V8s.

POWER OUTPUT 335–425 bhp.

TRANSMISSION Three-speed manual, optional four-speed manual, and three-speed TorqueFlite automatic.

SUSPENSION Front: torsion bars; Rear: leaf springs with live axle.

BRAKES Front discs, rear drums.

MAXIMUM SPEED 137–150 mph (220–241 km/h)

0–60 MPH (0–96 KM/H) 5.9–6.9 sec

A.F.C. 12–17 mpg (4.2–6 km/l)

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