Whereas Chrysler did have a Plymouth Barracuda since the early days of the Ford Mustang, it wasn’t much of a Pony car – more of a Valiant spin-off.Yes, the 1967 model was totally restyled, and unlike the Chevrolet Camaro and Pontiac Firebird which were limited to just two body-styles (notchback and convertible), the 1967 Plymouth Barracuda also got a fastback. Unfortunately, sales didn’t come along with the 1967’s more varied body style – just 58,791 units.
The problem, of course, was money. Chrysler did not have the money to put down for a full-fledged Pony car. So, using what they had, Chrysler once more redesigned the Barracuda for 1970, by using the “B” body shell. For those who don’t know, the “B” body was Chrysler’s larger mid-size car, like the Dodge Charger and Plymouth Road Runner, for example, were all based on the “B’” body. That is why the 1970 Chrysler “Pony cars” look a bit long and definitely a bit wider- they are all variations on a theme.
Thus the second and last major restyle of the Barracuda resulted in two body styles, a hardtop and convertible, which were available in three model series, Barracuda, Gran Coupe and ‘Cuda. Wheelbase remained at 108 inches but width increased by five inches. Whereas the previous Barracudas were also a compromise in terms of design, the new Barracuda featured the long hood and short deck that the Mustang popularized earlier, but let’s not forget that they were also five inches wider.
The performance version Barracuda was called ‘Cuda and came with a 335hp version of the 383 c.i. V-8. Optional engines were a 375hp 4V 440, the 3x2V 440 c.i rated at 390hp and of-course, the dual quad 426 Hemi rated at 425hp. Optional, at no cost, was the 275hp 340 c.i. V-8 carried over from 1969.
1970 also saw the introduction of the Dodge Challenger. This car was similar to the Barracuda, save for the name. The AAR “Cuda” was Plymouth’s version of the car designed to race in the popular Trans Am race series.
The AAR ‘Cuda was a mid-year introduction. AAR stood for Dan Gurney’s All American Racers team and the AAR ‘Cuda was designed to compete in the Trans Am series against such cars as the Boss 302 Mustangs, Z-28 Camaros, Pontiac Firebird Trans Am and the AMC Javelins.
Standard equipment included a special version of the 340 c.i. engine with 3x2V induction was rated at 290hp, four-speed manual transmission, Sure-Grip differential, HD shocks and suspension, front and rear sway bars, power disc brakes, and Rallye wheels with E60x15 front and G60x15 rear Goodyear Polyglas RWL tires. The AAR also sported a unique side exhaust system and flat black paint treatment on the hood, cowl and fender tops, and a front and rear spoiler(ducktail type). The AAR ‘Cuda also sported a 23 piece black side tape treatment.
It would have been great for Chrysler to release the car and watch it win races, but unfortunately, it takes a lot more than that to even finish – even with the name Dan Gurney on your side. Although, the Trans Am Series would continue into the 1990s, it is the 1966-1972 Trans Am Series that is remembered today – that’s when the factory teams were involved for some of the most exciting Trans Am racing ever.
Still, the Plymouth AAR ‘Cuda car was moderately successful for street use and a total of 2,714 AAR ‘Cudas were sold.