In 1964, Plymouth introduced the original Barracuda, marking its entry into the pony car segment. Alongside the Ford Mustang, the Barracuda was among the pioneers of this new class of compact, sporty cars. As the years went on, it transformed, evolving from a sporty pony car into a full-fledged muscle car, a transition that mirrored the changes occurring in the automotive industry at the time.
In 1970, Plymouth introduced the third-generation ‘Cuda, which is widely regarded as the ultimate iteration of this iconic nameplate. Built on the new E-body platform, shared with the Dodge Challenger, the 1970 ‘Cuda featured more aggressive styling and an array of powerful big-block V8 engine options.
Among the engine choices were not only the four- and six-barrel versions of the 440-cubic-inch (7.2-liter) RB but also the mighty 426-cubic-inch (7.0-liter) HEMI V8. However, the HEMI-powered ‘Cuda wasn’t as popular as other variants, with only 666 units sold in 1970 and 114 in 1971, making it the rarest and most expensive version of the third-generation ‘Cuda.
Despite the HEMI’s impressive power output of 425 horsepower, some enthusiasts argue that the AAR ‘Cuda is just as cool, if not cooler. While the AAR’s 340-cubic-inch (5.6-liter) six-barrel engine produced 290 horsepower, it had unique features that set it apart.
The AAR ‘Cuda was a one-year wonder, produced for just a few months during the 1970 model year. It was created to homologate the Barracuda for SCCA Trans Am racing and was discontinued as soon as Plymouth withdrew from the series.
The AAR ‘Cuda boasts exclusivity with its 340 V8 engine featuring a trio of two-barrel carburetors, a distinctive stripe package, and a fiberglass hood. Its suspension setup is also tailored for better track performance, making it more nimble than the HEMI-powered version on twisty tracks.
Furthermore, the AAR ‘Cuda is a rare gem, with only 2,724 units produced before production ceased, accounting for less than 6% of total Barracuda production for the 1970 model year.
To celebrate this iconic ‘Cuda model, YouTube’s “Dead Dodge Garage” recently showcased a Burnt Orange AAR ‘Cuda in a captivating 10-minute video. The video provides a full walkaround and captures the melodious small-block V8 engine sound, reminding enthusiasts why the AAR ‘Cuda deserves its place in muscle car history.
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