Motorhome Mopar: 1972 Plymouth Cuda

1972-plymouth-cuda

Chrysler’s big 440 V8 found its way into all kinds of vehicles, from muscle cars to boats and even into motorhomes. It’s a versatile and capable engine, that’s for sure! Now why would I be talking about boats and motorhomes while presenting this Cuda? Well you see, this Mopar had it’s 340 swapped out for a 440. Said 440 didn’t come from a sedan or a wrecked muscle car, it came from a motorhome. It feels strange to say that it’s powered by an engine and transmission that came out of something as slow as an RV, but it did! You can find this motorhome powered Cuda here on eBay in Sun City West, Arizona with a current bid of $7,500.

1972-plymouth-cuda-engine

Does it matter that the engine came out of a motorhome? Most likely not, although it might matter where the 727 transmission came from. I doubt they did much to the 440 to make it work in things other than cars, but the gearbox may have been geared differently to help the engine pull a flying box down the road. I’m no RV expert though, so hopefully one of you knows more about what differences there might be.

1972-plymouth-cuda-440-engine

The 440 really is a great engine, but I think I would actually rather have the 340 in this Cuda. The additional 100 cubic inches might add a lot of torque, but it also adds a lot of weight. If going in a straight line is your only concern, than the 440 is possibly the better choice, but if you like changing directions the 340 is a great balance of power and weight. If you decide to keep the 440 though, you may want to install a bigger carb and better flowing intake manifold.

1972-plymouth-cuda-interior

As you can see, the interior is mostly gone. The big bits like dash, center console and front seats are still here, but that’s about it. On the upside, you can see what kind of condition the floors are in. Obviously, someone was using this as a race car at some point. It still has a roll cage installed, which is kind of cool.

1972-plymouth-cuda-440

I suppose turning this into an all out drag car wouldn’t be too difficult at this point. Just finish removing any unnecessary bits, upgrade the 440 a bit and slap some cool graphics on it and you’d be about ready to go! I’d call it something like Motorhome Mayham or M.K.R.V (My Kind Of Recreational Vehicle)! So what do you think of this Cuda? Would you leave the 440 or would you find a 340 for it?

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Comments

  1. Kenny

    “…came out of something as slow as an RV,…” Apparently you’ve never done 100 mph in a 24 ft, ’71 Winnebago (with a 413), pulling a boat.

    • Jeffro

      Only cause I’ve never had the opportunity!

      Like 1
    • Neal

      Noice!!!

  2. Bob's your uncle

    “It still has a roll cage installed, which is kind of cool.”

    Until somebody bangs their head on it.

    • Bobsmyuncle

      In theory sure. With the bar behind the seat back and along the roof this really shouldn’t be an issue.

      Heck in an old car like this any accident is a significant risk and every interior surface a danger in the case of secondary collision.

  3. JW

    Unless I knew his reserve I can’t make a realistic comment with out sounding like a idiot. So I’ll just read everyone else’s. No offense to anyone wanting to comment just not me.

  4. Bobsmyuncle

    I’d say WHERE the 440 came from would be pretty important.

    I wouldn’t assume an RV would have an appropriate cam for a car. What about the heads and intake?

    • Tyrapone

      The rv block is stronger it is rib for strength the cam Needs to be change the heads andhttp://barnfinds.com/motorhome-mopar-1972-plymouth-cuda/ water pump are heavy the bottom end is bullet proof with forged crank exaust manifold are just as good as headers but heavy cast iron a 392 modern hemi

      • Mike D

        I agree, I did hear that swapping a motorhome big block is a poor idea for a road car ( ANY CAR) as it would have to be reconfigured for performance, but I have forgotten what they said, probably pretty close to what you said if I were to purchase this ( tho probably not) would chuck the engine and start from scratch

  5. Jeffro

    Motorhome trans have different tail shafts. Engine should have cam specs for more torque

  6. speedo

    Ditto to Kenny, I had a ’73 20 foot Tioga motor home with a 318, 2 barrel carb. I replaced it with a 360 with a Holley 4 bbl, dual exhaust and Doug Thorley headers. It would go where no man would want to go. I dusted off several very surprised motorists going uphill! We owned it for 23 years and just sold it. Last I knew it was headed for the west coast pulling a loaded car trailer!

    • Neal

      And getting like 8
      MPG. But hey, ya gotta do what ya gotta do!
      Nice rig!!!!

  7. RoughDiamond RoughDiamond Member

    If this ‘Cuda was a drag car at one point, I doubt if it had the factory born with 340. If it did, they should have left the 340 alone and found a body less the engine to play around with. I thought these had ‘Cuda on the tail panel? Unfortunately, the Seller or someone butchered a short throw Hurst Pistol Grip shifter in the process of building this car.

    • Don

      Only the ‘Cuda’ option had the name on the back. They also had the ‘Cuda’ emblem on the front fender behind the tire. They also had the emblem on the front grill. I forget what side it’s on. memory’s getting a little tired.

  8. Mark in WNC

    Roll CAGE ?? Looks more like a roll BAR to me.

  9. Bingo

    Don’t truck blocks have a taller deck height?

    I love the spray paint on the roll bar…NOT!!

    This car has had too much “intervention” for me.

  10. Chebby

    If you haven’t seen it, that Roadkill episode is really fun: the one where they bring a Charger basketcase to life with a motorhome 440.

    • Bobsmyuncle

      Despite the obvious motor home 440 swap I was actually reminded of episode 53 where they cut a 56 Buick out of the thorny underbrush.

  11. Ronald Winowiecki

    Anyone know. about a 440/426 in trucks ambulances it had 500hp from the factory. Early 60,s

  12. rmward194 Member

    Couldn’t the flipper at least have taken current pictures of the car? None of those pictures were taken in Sun City West, AZ, a suburb of Phoenix. We don’t have those types of trees, that much grass or rain.

    Other than that, it’s an interesting car.

    • Jack

      Good eye @rmward194
      I did notice in one picture it was wearing Washington State plates
      Still an interesting car…
      Just wish I knew what the sellers reserve was, might not be interesting at all

  13. Randy W

    Owner says car is running. I say not for long? I don’t see any radiator fan, nor do I see any electric fan setup. I guess if you go 150 MPH it’ll cool itself, right.

  14. HeadMaster1

    440 RV engine is GREAT place to start for a monster build as it’s the strongest factory block and bottom end, but you will need to let it breathe better for car use…..

  15. scooter8

    goobered.

  16. Rocko

    Motorhome blocks are prefered because the cylinder walls are hardened from constant RPM under heavy load!

  17. Doug Towsley

    Washington plates, Washington title and Photos taken in the Washington rain. Why it is NOW in Az is a puzzle, Snow bird thought it would sell for more down there? Regardless would LOVE to have this, but it will go for more than I could afford. Its problems are easily rectified. Plus, while an RV engine has some benefits. I would prefer a small block 340/360. A well setup car like this CAN be a real street terror.
    I still have some old school books, and if serious about a car like this my advice is go searching for them. #1) Racing Engine Preparation By Waddell Wilson. Details blueprinting and modifications for period small blocks. 350 Chevy, 351 Cleveland and the 340/360. Small block mopars DOMINATED circle track racing (Admittedly the torsion bar suspension for short tracks was the main reason)
    #2) Building a Race Car. Uses a Cuda just like this one in this book. Steve Smith copyright 1975 #3) Race Car Fabrication and Preparation antoehr Steve Smith book, #4) Mopar Performance handbook. Factory performance manual similar to the GM Factory performance manuals. Chock full of performance and tips and tricks from factory engineers and race teams. (Pure gold)

    Mopar to Ya!

  18. Rando

    Oh boy, what a mess, Or what a starting point. Depends on your goal. May as well go racing or pro touring custom with this one. Tubs in the back means the rear seat likely isn’t going to fit. Trunk floor has been replaced – how much butchering has been done to this car? probably had a fuel cell? Not sure about spoiler mounting plates under deck lid. Np pics of under body and the “unibody reinforcements”. If you’re looking for a car you can do anything with and not kill it’s value, this may be it. Value is already killed if you want original.

  19. Joe M

    Original red car? If so, put the 340 back in and restore. There is money in red.

  20. Neal

    Side note question:
    Other that 20 cu inches, what’s the difference between a 340 and a 360?
    Is a 340 a bored-out 318?
    Is 360 over-bored even more?
    Isn’t 383 a Mopar number too?
    Is a 383 an over-bored 360?
    Not sure why I’m only just now clicking all this together?
    Help for a newbie?

  21. Doug Towsley

    Ill let the MOPAR experts answer the specifics, But major differences between the 340-360, Bore and stroke, Externally the mounts are the same on one side and different on the other. Basically theres 3 classes,

    Straight 6 leaning tower of power, then small blocks which are typically 318-340-360 and some stuff interchanges but not all. Then there is the Big Blocks,,383, 440, 426. Each has its merits but its not typically just bore size. Long rod vs short rod, torque and bores all configured to do certain things.

    I might be wrong on this, but the 340 has a bigger bore than a 360 IIRC, When doing a motor swap often times you have to have the right K member which is the front clip-subframe-engine-trans cradle. A small block V8 wont fit a 6cyl K member, and a big block wont fit a small block K member.
    Mopar trivia is extensive and only Ford is more complicated,. But thats why GM-Chevy is cheaper and easier but much hated because the interchange is much easier and more parts cross reference.

    You can rebuild a Small block Chevy for a fraction of the cost of a Mopar or Ford…. An EXCELLENT book to get is a copy of Waddell Wilson & Steve Smith “Racing Engine Preparation” and is the bible for performance and engine techniques. (Blueprinting for performance and reliability) Back in the day the kings of V8 racing was the Ford 351 Cleveland, The Chevy 350, and the Mopar 340.

    Chrysler Direct Connection ha several excellent manuals and performance books sold thru dealers on Oval track, and racing car fabrication and preparation. Back when I raced, The 340s and torsion bar suspensions ruled short track circle track racing. Not because of more power, but the Torsion bar suspension.

    A little known fact is that suspension and handling win more races than HP.

    Like 1
    • Neal

      Thanks for the breakdown, Doug. I appreciate your time in responding. I’m starting to piece some of that all together.

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