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Big Block Project: 1970 Plymouth Cuda

The Plymouth ‘Cuda is a car with styling that embodies a real muscle car. It bulges in all of the right places and is the automotive equivalent of Arnold Schwarzenegger at his best. This 1970 example has seen better days, and returning it to its Schwarzenegger-like glory will be a significant undertaking. We have seen cars in a worse state revived here at Barn Finds, so maybe you need to take a look and see if this is a project that you would be willing to tackle. Located in Millen, Georgia, you will find the Plymouth listed for sale here on eBay. The owner has set a BIN of $7,850. It is a car that has generated plenty of interest because there are currently 172 people who are watching the listing.

There’s really no way of sugar-coating this. The Sub Lime ‘Cuda has more than a few rust issues for the next owner to tackle. Starting with the positive news, and that is that the front frame rails are in good order. The owner says that the rear rails are okay, but given the amount of rust present in the surrounding metal, I would examine them carefully. Moving on to the question of rust, and all that I can say is that it is a good thing that glass isn’t prone to this problem. All of the lower extremities have been significantly impacted, and the welder and grinder will be working overtime on this one. All of the floors look like Swiss cheese, and the floor and trunk pans will require replacement. There is rust in the rockers, lower front fenders, bottom corners of the doors, and the rear quarter panels. Throw in rust in the roof, around the back window, in the filler panel below the rear window, and in the tail-light panel, and I think that you’re probably getting the picture. The windshield is smashed, but what remains of the glass looks okay. There are plenty of trim pieces that are missing, and most of what remains is beyond help.

The ‘Cuda was originally fitted with Black interior trim, but most of this has gone the way of the dodo. The dash pad is cracked, but the rest of the dash and the gauges show promise. However, I need to qualify this claim as well. The driver’s side section of the windshield is gone, and that leaves the potential for the gauges to be exposed to water when it rains. This is never a good thing, so that leaves a question mark hanging over the most promising interior feature. The owner doesn’t supply a photo of the engine for an excellent reason. Both the engine and the transmission are long gone. The Plymouth originally featured a 383ci V8, which would have been good for 335hp. With the original 4-speed manual transmission bolted to the back, the ‘Cuda would have been capable of demolishing the ¼ mile in 14.5 seconds. The vehicle does roll and steer, but the fact is that the buyer will be starting from scratch here.

So, what do you think? There is no denying that getting this 1970 ‘Cuda back to a roadworthy state is going to take a lot of work. The buyer will need to have deep pockets because it isn’t going to be a cheap undertaking. It is worth remembering that it will also never be a numbers-matching vehicle, which will impact its potential value once it is restored. It is possible to find the occasional tidy 383-equipped ‘Cuda on the market today for around the $55,000 mark, but these cars tend to be 100% original. With that in mind, would you take this one on?


  1. MoragaPulsar

    BarnFind for sure. More rusty, decaying, soon to be ignored Mopars are coming out of the woodwork it seems, I guess while their ideal demographic is still interested (barely). Another ten years and these crude machines will be, well history. The Muscle Cars are about as interesting to my son as 50’s cars are to me – that is, not. Maybe the prefect ones, but this kind if stuff? Just so much junk in these rusty hulks for sale that seem to grow like the weeds around them. Fight me.

    Like 17
  2. PaulG

    At first glance it almost looks like an AAR. A check of the fender tag shows it’s not. I believe someone will pay the ask, there’s almost enough there to work with, probably a labor of love but finished it’ll be stunning…

    Like 13
  3. gbvette62

    I’m a little confused by this one. I’m no Mopar expert, but if the stripes on it are original, and they sure look like they’ve been on this car for a very long time, then it’s an AAR Cuda, which only came with a 340 “Six Barrel”. Looking at the roof, this car had the rear window louvers, which Plymouth pushed as an AAR option.

    With all of the various stripe and graphics offered on 70 Cuda’s, it seems strange that someone would add AAR stripes to a 383 Cuda? I wonder if this car gave up it’s AAR trim tag, to a Cuda body in better shape?

    Like 8
    • Jeff


      I believe you hit the nail on the head, the AR stripes on this one are 100% accurate. Check the cowl, and radiator support to make sure the tag matches the VIN.

      Like 9
      • Arthell64

        The car has been repainted. You can see the different shades of green inside the door jam.
        Auto Metal Direct (AMD) will make a lot of money on this car.

        Like 2
    • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

      AAR dealer clone perhaps?

      I’m reminded of the Packard Dealer in Arlington VA [Dubois, Inc.], who began selling Packard cars in 1956. The Packard factory allocated the rare Packard Caribbean convertibles and 2-door hardtops, based on how many Caribbean convertibles that a dealership sold in the previous 3 years.

      As Dubois was unable to obtain Caribbeans, they decided to take the regular Packard 400 2-door hardtops and turn them into Caribbean clones that they marketed as Packard Esquires. An estimated 14 hardtops and one Patrician sedan were turned into Esquires.

      So back to 1970. Perhaps the selling Plymouth dealer was unable to obtain an AAR Cuda, or wanted a big block AAR, so they created a clone. So it’s possible to have bought what was sold new as a 383 4-speed AAR Cuda.

      Perhaps in 1971, with a regular Cuda sitting on the lot for way too long, the selling dealership chose to add some bling, to make the car sell!

      No one back then would have checked the fender tag! If it looked like an AAR Cuda, and it was fast [or faster], it would sell!

      I worked for a BMW and Datsun dealership in the mid to late 1970s. With the popularity of the 280Z cars soaring, and the dealer able to sell all the Z cars they could order, They found it was very profitable to customize their 280Z cars with mag wheels, intense audio systems, sunroofs, bolt-on wheel arches, side stripe kits, and many more non-factory add-on parts & equipment.

      Today, restoring one of those early 280Z cars, means deciding if it is better to restore it to what it left Japan, or what it was like when it left the selling dealership.

      And as for Dubois Packard, since there was already a large Studebaker dealership nearby, when the 1957 Packard was actually a Studebaker, Harry Dubois found himself without any Detroit built Packards to sell, and he closed after only about 18 months as a new car dealership.

      Like 0
      • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

        Forgot to mention; Google “Packard Esquire” for examples.

        Like 0
  4. Arthur

    Better send this car to Mark Worman and his Graveyard Carz associates. He would know how to fix this Cuda.

    Like 3
  5. Mike

    Crush/ recycle

    Like 5
  6. DON

    Plymouth called this color Limelight ; Dodge called it Sublime

    Like 2
  7. JOHN

    I bought a 49 Plymouth deluxe for $180 bucks, in the 80’s. The floors were gone, but the rest of the car was all there, and 100x better shape than this Barracuda. I drove it in a demolition race and scraped it. It’s amazing what people will buy these days. I wouldn’t buy this car, even if I owned a metal shop. Can you say Bondo?

    Like 2
    • piston poney

      the last this car needs is bondo, after a while it will crack and ruin the car, in my town there is a 1969 mustang numbers matching cobra jet 4 speed car, but it’s from the north, and it rusted out so the whole thing was repaired with bondo and from a distance it looks great but up close the bondo is cracking, worse than a dash pad in a car from arizona that has been outside for 20 years, it just looks horaible, tip don’t use bondo to repair rust

      Like 1
  8. Aaron

    Is there any part of the body that will be left after you restore this? Heck it looks like even the hood and roof have rust thru. All this seem good for is an episode of Roadkill.

    Like 2
  9. Sheldon

    It doesn’t have the same hood scoop as an original AAR would have which could suggest that it isn’t a true AAR but it could just be a customisation. If that isn’t the case then it is still a great car. The only problem would be with cash.

    Like 0
  10. Super Glide

    Commit this Cuda to the brinny deep and may God have mercy on it’s tortured soul. Davey Jones awaits it’s arrival.

    Like 0
  11. Gibson

    It will be bought for the VIN, the rest will be scrapped. YMMV

    Like 0

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