1970 and 1971 Plymouth Cudas – Which is the best? Muscle Car Of The Week Episode #355
By 1970, the Barracuda received a major redesign by Chrysler stylist John Herlitz. Herlitz knew a thing or two about what a cool car should look like, as he had penned the awesome Barracuda SX concept car a few years earlier. The third generation Barracuda had to look great, but also be a hot performer to compete in the escalating Muscle Car wars. Herlitz took the B-body chassis, stretched the nose and shortened the deck, but the secret sauce was to make the car wider.
See John Herlitz Auto Design Art and Barracuda History: https://www.johnherlitz.org/
The 1970 Barracuda came out in 3 sub-models, the Barracuda, the Barracuda Gran Coupe, and the abbreviated ‘Cuda for the high-performance crowd. The fresh ‘Cuda design featured a wide front grille with 2 headlights, and a variety of hood options, including the I.Q.E.C.A.G. scoop… the Incredible Quivering Exposed Cold Air Grabber scoop.. commonly known as the Shaker. Even the base ‘Cuda hood had twin power bulge scoops. The lines were clean and lean, with plenty of options to personalize your ride, including body colored elastomeric front and rear bumpers, body colored or chrome racing mirrors, rallye and road wheels, vinyl tops (including Gator Grain and wild Mod Tops), hockey stick striping, and of course, a wide array of colors.
That new, extra-wide E-body chassis also accepted not only the powerhouse 440 V8, but also swallowed the giant 426 hemi engine with ease. Now we’re talking!
There was another cool small-block version for 1970 only, and that was the AAR ‘Cuda, a street going road race tribute to the Dan Gurney All American Racers Trans Am car. These featured a fiberglass hood dipped in Organosol black texture-paint, lower front spoilers, fog lamps, side trumpet exhaust tips, a rear spoiler, staggered tire sizes, and a hot 290 HP 340 with 3 two barrels under the hood.
Upping the game were the 4 or 6 barrel 440s, with 375 and 390 HP respectively, topping out at the infamous 426 Hemi with 2 4-barrels making 425 HP and 490 lbs. ft of torque. Torqueflite 3 speed automatics and 4-speed pistol-gripped manuals were available either way.
Chrysler’s proven torsion bar front suspension and heavy duty shocks and rear leaf springs provided great handling for 1970, and good road feel even today.
The new 1970 ‘Cuda had just about anything you could ask for.
So how do you improve on something like that? Plymouth decided to turn the visuals up a notch with the 1971 update. New for 1971 was the 4 headlight front design, split by one of the coolest grilles ever designed. It featured a series of 6 forward leaning grille openings centered in an anthracite gray or body-colored surround, and really looked tough when the body colored elastomeric bumpers were ordered. The power bulge hood changed a bit, sliding the scoops back towards the windshield, but the shaker was still a hot item in ‘71. ‘Cuda fenders got a new signature design element… the ‘cuda “gills”, not found on regular Barracudas or Gran Coupes.
New saw-tooth trim jazzed up the rocker panels, and Plymouth went all-out with the optional giant billboard stripes, calling out the engine size for all the world to see! Different high-impact colors were added, and vinyl tops were still on the option list. Add in the rear window louvers, rear spoiler, and a new rear tail light treatment and you can see just how different the ‘71 ‘Cuda was from the 1970 cars. Even the bucket seats were redesigned, along with some cool new options like an 8-track recorder in the dash that either recorded tunes off the radio or your own thoughts with a microphone. All tolled, there were over 75 different options to personalize your ‘Cuda!
The good thing is that they didn’t change the powerplants for 1971. You could still get all the big V8s, but compression and power dropped all but the 426 Hemi. That was just a sign of the times with new measurements and fuel requirements changing the game.
With the dynamite looks, high performance drivetrains, and the wide variety of options making many ‘Cudas unique, it’s no wonder why ‘70 and ‘71 Cudas are hot with collectors. Especially the hemi convertibles, as there was only a room full of them ever produced. And most of those were assembled in one room at the Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals a while back. Check out JohnHerlitz.org to see some of his awesome concept renderings. The Brothers Collection is a virtual aquarium of ‘Cudas, including Mr. Herlitz’ former personal demonstrator car.
#Barracuda #Cuda #Hemi #MuscleCar #V8TV