Big Block Project: 1970 Plymouth ‘Cuda

Plymouth’s Barracuda “E” body pony car underwent a bit of a metamorphosis in 1970. The prior version, in production from 1967 to 1969, had more of a performance vibe than its awkward predecessor (1964-1966) but it still lacked machismo that was inherently endowed on the 1970 version. Found here on eBay, and located in Mesa, Arizona, is a 1970 Barracuda ‘Cuda version available with a current bid of $15,100.

The “E” body was known as the Barracuda but when optioned up with a 340 CI engine or a big-block version in 383 CI with 335hp, 440 CI or Hemi (426 CI) engine form, along with other features, it gained performance cred and was referred to as a ‘Cuda. This particular example is an all original and complete example but will require a lot of restoration work. Let’s take a closer look.

Under the hood of this ‘Cuda is a familiar powertrain, the tried and true 383 CI V8 good for 335 HP backed up by ChryCo’s A727 three-speed automatic transmission. The seller states that it runs and drives but will need restoration so there’s no telling how well it runs but at least he makes some mention regarding its motivation. The engine compartment looks original and dated, as expected. The seller does mention that he had the radiator rebuilt and had the exhaust manifolds cleaned and painted, seems like an unusual starting point for a restoration.

There is only one shot of the interior and it is not very good. It reveals torn & worn upholstery with bare steel floors and a trashed dash pad. The floors have surface rust but the seller states that there is no rust in the floors (I guess he means the “invasive surface rust” type of rust) or frame but the trunk pan has a problem and the cowl is seriously day-lighted.

I’m not going to use the dreaded “P” word to describe the exterior (I get a similar reaction that follows the use of the term “Frau Blucher” every time I do) so let’s just say it’s worn out looking. The paint is burned off on most of the horizontal surfaces, there is some evidence of road/other vehicle caused rash and damage revealed where the vinyl top covering was removed. But hey, the rear bumper has been re-chromed! Again, seems like another peculiar place to start a restoration.

The completeness of this ’70 ‘Cuda is encouraging, it also appears to be very original and we know it runs, at least well enough for a mail-run according to the seller. But these “E” bodies (and most Mopars of this generation) are rust magnets and this one is no exception – yes, it appears to be mostly clean but that rusted cowl has me concerned, those can be a bear to repair. I had a high school friend that had a brand new ’72 ‘Cuda and I liked it OK though it had a cheapness of materials about it and an unfinished feel (it also has my 9/16” socket in the crankcase as it fell off of the ratchet handle doing a cam swap and went all the way to the bottom).

I think I actually prefer the Dodge Challenger from this era as it seems a bit more grown-up. That said, a pre-emission controlled ‘Cuda (though this one is supposed to possess the California-only 1970 smog requirement), regardless of condition, is always a big draw. And based on some recent seller’s postings that I have reviewed, I think this listing has been pretty forthcoming with the car’s description, though lacking in photo quality. That said, there are still a lot of unknowns with this Plymouth. Knowing what these sell for in nice or restored condition, would you take a chance on this ’70 ‘Cuda?

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Comments

  1. Classic Steel

    So what is it going to folks to stop 🛑 removal of vin tags?
    Maybe confiscated vehicle? Hand removal (ok a bit much) but …….why remove??? Ebay shows the separation of tag..

    I like the car but is it real?

    3
    • jerry

      ever notice when a mopar turns up for sale here its called a rust magnet! but if its rust bucket mustang its good starting point or praise the lord its junk yard gm that needs every thing o what a rare find! what crap! just look at this mustang for sale on here you gotta have rocks in your head to even give this heap garage space!

      3
  2. Classic Steel

    So what is it going to take to stop folks from removing vin tags?
    Maybe confiscated vehicle? Hand removal (ok a bit much) but …….why remove??? Ebay shows the separation of tag..

    I like the car but is it real?

  3. Paul Z

    That’s the fender tag, not the VIN tag. You can see the VIN tag at the base of the windshield.

    2
  4. Will Fox

    `Scuse me, but I take exception of the “awkward” remark concerning first-gen (`64-`66) Barracudas. As owner of the sixth `65 model built–complete with extremely rare factory finyl top ( a la Dodge Dart), the car has served me well, and has remained in our * ‘household’ since new in `65.
    (*Mom’s car new; I got it in `76 when I turned 16. Sis now holds the title)

    5
    • Dave

      You have to admit that the first generation models had that huge rear glass grafted onto a Valiant body. While great to display Hemis under, it made the car look somewhat contrived.
      I’m a fan of the second generation models myself, as they looked on par with the Camaro and Mustangs. In that era, the 383 fared well against the 396s and 390s.

      2
    • Doc

      Would “homely” be better than “awkward”? That generation just isn’t an attractive car.

      1
    • stillrunners stillrunners Member

      With ya Will….there’s even a magazine test drive picture of the early Cuda off of the 4 wheels wheels like they brag about the first GT350 Shelby all wheels in the air picture. As an owner of many first gen Cuda’s and 2+2 Mustangs…I’ll take the first, second and third gen over a Stang any day….sorry.

  5. Gaspumpchas

    Pics are lousy,and the rust you do see is troubling. up to 12.6. Sure is a ruffian, and from what I see the roof had vinyl. Get the darned boxes off the roof and take some pics. She’s a ruffian that needs a good inspection. Good luck to the new owner.
    Cheers
    GPC

  6. Johnny Demonic

    The write up should include that when Plymouth started work on the third generation of the Barracuda, they just decided to ape the looks of the first generation Camaro.

    2
  7. Troy s

    Between the two I also like the Challenger a bit more, not that that makes one bit of different. 383 has good power although I consider it at the bottom of the performance options. Right below the 340. Still not that bad compared to some of Keith’s favorite mopars!

    1
  8. Pete in PA

    Looks like it didn’t sell . Fender tag shows it is a LA built car (last year for that) and did have a black vinyl top. I only drove an E-body cuda one time and it was a very fun ride. 383-335 with the pistol grip shifter and a shaker hood. Must have had least 3.55 years because it *really* took off as you went through the years. I’d kinda like to have an E-body but even project prices are way, way out of reach for me.

    1
  9. TimM

    I think this car could be a good starting point for someone but it will be a lot of work and money!! The rust around the window is concerning but it can be fixed!! However where did that water go??? A couple pictures of the trunk would be nice if not maybe the underside????

  10. Woody

    Owned two ‘69 Barracuda fastback one was original 383 -M code. This western ‘Cuda would be a nice project but numbers,vin.and cash,make perfect sense when there is big block Mopar on the line. In central PA these cars hardly exist,buy it when you find it, and yes 383 Barracudas are fast.

    1
  11. Del

    Another rust bucket.

    Advert says no rust but usual rust

    Stay away. Unless you need those 3 parts for 20 grand.

  12. Pete

    My heart skipped a beat, there before me was a 70 Cuda ,I owned one ininterior 4 with the 340, 391 gears, automatic, painted Hemi Orange, white interior, a sweet little runner

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