May 02

Cuda: Living Legend

There are many cars that reached legendary status in the muscle car era but one has eclipsed them all in terms of collect-ability, street presence, and status. This was due to the legendary Hemi engine option and it’s reputation as a race car. Cuda’s would have a strong showing and a large fan base in Trans Am racing with the AAR piloted by Dan Gurney and Swede Savage, the drag races, and on the streets. The car’s reputation was so great many owners swapped the badges out on it to denote the smaller engine. Last week we explored the Cuda’s origins with the Valiant and Barracuda, now we will look at the E body Cuda which debuted in 1970.

The E-body which was introduced in 1970 was a shortened and widened B body platform. The Cuda would share the platform with the Challenger however the cars would feature completely different sheet metal with the Challenger being longer wheel base by two inches. The engine bay was wider to accomplish the 426 Hemi and gone was the fastback option of the A body. For 1970 and 1971 there would be three option packages for the Cuda the basemodel and the Grandcoupe which was a luxury version of the car which offered two slant six options a 195 and a 225ci as well as three V8s the 318ci, 383ci with a two barrel and a 383ci with a 4 barrel and dual exhaust. Then there was the Cuda moniker which came with the 383ci standard but the 440ci and 426ci as options. Other Cuda options where Plymouth and Dodge’s hi impact colors and several decal packages.
No matter which trim level was ordered performance options where available such as the shaker hood and the Dana 60 rear end. The Dana 60 was standard on the 440 and 426 if the manual transmission was ordered, but only an option on the automatic cars.
Plymouth Cuda
1972 would bring only minor changes to styling such as single headlights vs the previous dual headlights, and some minor bumper changes. Unfortunately by 1972 fuel shortages, and increasingly strict emmissions regulation meant and end to the big blocks. The 383, 440, and 426, heavy duty rear end, big tires, and heavy suspension where dropped from the options list. Creature comforts were also gone by the way side.

In 1974 the Cuda was dead. Emissions, the fuel crisis, and an economic down turn meant that less and less people were buying muscle cars. Sales had dropped dramatically and it was no longer feasible to continue production. So only 10 years after the birth of the Barracuda production was stopped. Chrysler had intended to bring out a completely restyled Cuda in 1975 but it would not ever see the light of day even though clay models had been produced.

After a very long hiatus rumors have been ablaze of a new Cuda for 2014 which would replace the Challenger. Details are scant but with fuel prices once again soaring it’s generally thought that the Cuda would be a smaller and lighter version of the Challenger. We should know more relatively quick as 2014 model information is likely to debut at next winter’s autoshows.

Sources: Allpar, wikipedia, Motor Trendm alemedacars

1 comment

  1. RenoWrench

    I’d rock an A-body ‘Cuda with a slant 6 all day long, but the E-body cars just don’t seem right with anything but a V8, HEMI or otherwise.

    Here’s to hoping the rumored new ‘Cuda isn’t the travesty that is the current Challenger.

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