Big Nasty Fish Project: 1970 Plymouth AAR Barracuda

Project cars are our bread and butter here at Barn Finds. We remain steadfastly committed to the nuts and bolts of owning cars, you know, the fun part. Part of that fun, of course, is whatever potential a given project might have. If cool, rare and valuable muscle cars interest us, then this one has lots and lots of potential. A 1970 ‘Cuda is hard enough to find in it’s own right, but how tough is the coveted AAR model? This one currently appears here on eBay, is located in the town of Pacific, Missouri, and at this writing, with a little less than five days left, is bid up to $18,600 with the reserve not met.

This certainly isn’t the first basket case Barracuda we’ve featured here, but this one is a stand-out because of it’s relative completeness, pedigree and related documentation. The seller has written this car up proper, with a lengthy, thorough description, and paired it up with dozens and dozens of photos, only a few of which we’re able to show you here.

Non-knowledgeable nay-sayers will note the copious amounts of rust, and current state of disassembly, and may miss the importance of the rarity and relative completeness of the car. In other words, the seller has a lot of the important missing parts included with it, many of which are extremely hard to come by (read: expensive).

First and foremost, is the original numbers-matching drivetrain. This one is a 340 cubic inch six pack with three Holley two-barrel carburetors, and the 4-speed close-ratio manual transmission. The seller says the machine work has been completed on the engine block, and the quality of it is excellent. While I’ve mentioned only a few of the highlights here, many of the engine parts are apparently included.

What makes any car interesting, at least for me, are the numbers and documentation. The seller has provided plenty of it, detailed photographs, the build sheet, a clear title and more. The photo above shows this, and this is one of the better eBay listings I’ve seen in awhile.

One of the many unobtanium parts included is the original fiberglass hood. In good condition, and apparently with special light duty hinge springs to compensate for the lightweight fiberglass panel.

A look underneath that hood, and a quick double check of the documentation, confirms this car was not originally red, but EK2 “Vitamin C” orange, with black interior.  Also visible in this shot, is rust, and lots of it. This is where the car will fall out of favor with a lot of people. No car is for everyone, of course, but the serious rust repair this one needs will put it out of the question for many potential buyers. But if a real AAR ‘Cuda is your thing, and paying six figures for it right out of the gate is not your preference, then maybe you’re still with me. Other buyers prefer the hands-on experience, and want to walk it through a proper restoration done to their own standards, instead of buying the mystery associated with someone else’s completed project car. Rough ones like this get lots of derisive comments about them being nothing more than “a cowl and VIN tag for sale.” Sort of, but the parts included definitely lift this one out of that particular category. Despite the extensive rust-through under the hood, the car is said to have a solid unibody structure, and floors and roof.

This is where it gets downright bizarre. From the looks of it, sometime in the late ’70s-early ’80s, this car was the hapless victim of some very ill-advised customization. The original orange paint was covered with bright red and whatever you’d call this graphics job. Underneath the paint, electrical conduit was used to ‘flare’ the wheel wells, and take a look at this crazy frenched antenna in the right rear quarter panel. Wow. To go along with it, apparently a large Daytona/Superbird-type wing was fabricated, and attached to the rear, which thankfully, has since been removed.

The seller tells us just 2,724 AAR ‘Cudas were built, and that only 1,120 of them came with the 4-gear manual transmission. It’s all kinds of rough, and all kinds of rare and desirable. It will be worth big bucks some day, and it’s not a question of ‘if’, it’s ‘when’. So what’s your guess? When the hammer drops, what will the final price be?

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  1. Paul

    What a fantastic advert.
    Be great to see this bought back to it’s former glory.

  2. Jeffro

    Atleast it’s closer to 98% than the Vette! I hope this car finds its savior!

  3. Tom Member

    Wow! I am not a mopar guy but wow! call the crew at Graveyard Cars….this one deserves a 100 point resto for sure. BIG money. One last….WOW!

  4. Dan

    Graveyard car boys your table is ready…

  5. Joe Backer

    I don’t think your going to see your money back. Its more work then we all think.

  6. John H from CT

    With the exception of a 10K mile car, fully restored numbers matching AARs are available for $80K. This car will be difficult to be restored in the money, even if you can do it yourself. Many of the parts are 70 only and suspension parts are AAR/TA only. If missing, a simple date correct restored jack will set you back $400. Compact spare? Forget it. Restored 70 only console with rechromed woodgrain insert and shifter insert is $600. In contrast to GM, Mopar date coded virtually everything. I know, I restored one of these and am still chasing down the date coded minuteia. While the bones are there, this is one long, expensive project.

  7. irocrob

    I sold a AAR in about 1993. Mine was a 4 speed,no engine,trans or hood but the body was better than this car for $4000. Love the TA Challenger and AAR….

  8. Jay E.

    The fun part of this car is the reaction of fellow Mopar guys when you tell them you have a numbers matching Vitamin C AAR Cuda you are working on. That alone would be worth 20K sitting in your garage. It probably wont get cheaper to buy this any time soon and may look like a bargain one day. Cool barn find, there were my favorite back in the day, even more than a Hemi Cuda.

  9. Superdessucke

    Neat but can’t see how the numbers would work out. How much is a mint one? 60 grand? Bidding’s already over 20. It would probably cost you at least 20 more just to get the body sorted and painted. Then you’ve got engine, transmission, suspension, interior, all the special parts…..

  10. Paul

    have to agree with both John H and Suerdessucke. Unless you want to experience the journey and do the resto, you can probably buy one for less or close to it by the time you are done. Panther Pink are my flavorite AAR’s. Air filters for these things are $100!

  11. stillrunners lawrence Member

    Some mopar guy some where has what it takes to build this….that’s why the bidding is where it is…find a Trans Am Camero or Stang with an as built motor….what will that cost you with a numbers matching motor ? Is there such a thing in the FoMoCo or Bowtie world ?

  12. Albert Gilliam

    Finally finishing mine been parked since 76 I am second owner rotted everywhere BIG job!

  13. erikj

    Mark Whorman,I hope it gets to you or some one that will put it back to its glory!!
    Sorry about the spelling. I am working on a 71 twister duster,fc7 stick shift, bucket seat and 8 3/4 rear.I Wish mark could do his magic to mine, but I don’t have those funds. I will hope to get mine as a cool driver at least though!

  14. Gabe Dellevigne


    Great article. BTW, I’m the owner/seller of this particular AAR. If you’ve spent any amount of time in the vintage muscle Mopar world…you’ll know that these cars started rusting shortly after they left the dealer’s lot. I grew up in Newark, Delaware, well known for the heavy use of salt on the roads and plenty of snowfall. By the time the early 1980’s rolled around, these cars could be extremely rusty and crusty assuming they were still on the road. Cars like this were driven hard, thrashed and abused. Their great handling, snappy small block engines appealed to those that like to drive aggressively…particularly if they were 4-speed cars. If you’ve ever driven one, you know they were and still are exceptional cars from an exceptional era in automotive history. Ignoring the linkage to Dan Gurney and Swede Savage giving them a go in the 1970 Trans Am racing series, it is hard not to take a double take when you see one of these beauties restored back to factory stock. Not many cars from the big 3 had such a bold and attractive look. To me, it was by far my favorite…I even prefer them to the much more expensive Hemi and 440 6-pack cars. If you’ve spent any time around 1970-1971 E-Body Mopars…you know that quarter panels and trunk pans are essentially mandatory replacement items 47 years later unless the car was tucked away in a garage never to see bad weather or spent its life in the dry arid southwestern part of the country. The car is actually a lot nicer than the pictures show…I wouldn’t have bought it 24 years ago if that were not the case.

    Best Regards,

    Gabe Dellevigne

    • Marty Wilke Member


      I’m about 30 miles away from Pacific. I owned a ’71 Challenger, and I too am familiar with how rust prone they are! I hope I didn’t dwell too long on that in the article. I thought you did a great job photographing and describing the car, and I hope you got what you wanted (or more) out of it in return.

      What part of the country (or world) did the car end up going?

      • Gabe Dellevigne


        I very much enjoyed the article…funny to me to read something like this being written about my car without any consultation from the seller (me) but that’s fine…that’s what the internet has brought to modern society. You obviously were able to glean enough information from my E-Bay auction details which was the intent…answer questions for would be buyers.

        The car now lives in Cincinnati, OH with the new owner.

        While the car has spent its entire life in Missouri (well, outside of being built in Michigan), I’ve lived in Southern California for the past 6 years. There was sadly no room for it to be here with me in SoCal…the cost of living here is about 3X of that of Missouri. If you can figure out how to buy a house here coming from the Midwest, you can count yourself as fortunate. No room for adult toys such as the AAR out here.

        Perhaps one day when my children are grown and off supporting themselves…I might be able to go out and buy me one again. By far, my favorite vintage muscle Mopar of all time.

        Best Regards,

        Gabe Dellevigne

  15. SuperSport

    i’m amazed at the final price. Good job to the seller. How much do you think it will cost to bring this to a high driver quality resto? any guesses.

  16. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    Winning bid:US $36,600.00
    [ 37 bids ]

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