The Plymouth 'Cuda (1970-1974)
From the Barracuda to the 'Cuda, As 1970 rolled around, another redesign was in order for the 'Cuda. This new design looked quite a bit different than the previous models. One of the reasons was that it was now built on a new, slightly shorter and sportier version of Chrysler's existing B platform, the E-body. This new generation eliminated the fastback, but kept the two-door coupe and convertible versions. It also had a Dodge twin known as the Challenger; however, not one body panel interchanged between the two cars. They were bulky, but aggressively and cleanly styled, although they were clearly influenced by the first generation Chevrolet Camaro. After the switch to the E platform, which featured a larger engine bay than the previous A-body, Chrysler's famous 426 in³ (7.0 L) Hemi would now be available from the factory in the 'Cuda.
Race car drivers Swede Savage and Dan Gurney drove identical factory-sponsored 'Cudas in the 1970 Trans-Am Series, although with no success. With the 440-6 and 426 Hemi, the performance from these production 'Cudas ended up being legendary. The 1/4 mile times for these were 13.7 s @ 103 mph and 13.4 s @ 108 mph - both among the fastest times of the day. These engines were very easy to slightly modify and drop into the 12s, but either way - stock or modified - one could virtually have a 5-passenger race car. 'Cudas also came with decal sets, hood modifications, and some unusual colors ("Go Mango", "Plum Crazy", and "Panther Pink").
The 'Cuda was changed slightly for 1971, with a new grille and taillights. This would be the only year that the 'Cuda would have four headlights, and also the only year of the optional fender "gills". The 1971 'Cuda engine options would remain the same as that of the 1970 model, except for the fact that a 4-barrel carbureted 440 engine was not available; all 440-powered 'Cudas had a six-barrel carburetor setup instead. The 426 Hemi option would remain, and the Hemi-powered 1971 'Cuda convertible is considered one of the rarest and most desirable collectible automobiles in the world, with a recent example selling for over US$4 million. An owner of one of these examples turned down a firm offer for US$5 million in 2004. Exactly 7 of these were made with this body style and engine combination (two with four-speed manual transmissions, and five with three-speed automatic transmissions). All are currently accounted for, and are in perfectly restored condition.
After another grille and taillight redesign in 1972, the 'Cuda would keep its overall look the same through 1974, with dual headlights and four circular taillights. But like other muscle cars of the time, these years showed a major decrease in the 'Cuda's power due to stricter emission laws. New safety regulations would also force the vehicle to have large front and rear bumper guards in 1973 and 1974. The 'Cuda hung on through 1974, after which it was discontinued in the midst of the 1973 oil crisis. Production ended ten years (to the day) after it had begun.
Although today they are considered one of the most sought-after muscle cars of all time, the third generation was a marketplace failure and never successfully competed with rival offerings from Ford and General Motors. The rarity of specific models and combinations today is primarily the result of low buyer interest and production at the time.