Trans Am Project: 1970 Plymouth AAR ‘Cuda

The AAR ‘Cuda was Plymouth’s entry into SCCA Trans Am racing for 1970. The sanctioning body required that participating manufacturers build at least 2,500 street versions of the cars used on the track. Plymouth accomplished this feat by assembling a ‘Cuda 340 with a 6-Pack carburetor set-up. The car would turn out to be a one-year wonder, so coupled with low production, these hot rods turn up less often than any other Barracuda, excepting convertibles and the Hemi. This car seems to have the credentials to back it up, including its tags and build sheet. But it no longer has an engine or transmission, so the Plymouth’s a roller for now. Located in Brentwood, California, this ‘Cuda is available here on craigslist for $37,000.

The Barracuda was an all-new car for 1970, finally losing its association with the family-oriented Valiant. The ‘Cuda would be the muscle car version of the automobile, with several powerful engines offered. The smallest would be the potent 340 small-block, with a 4-barrel carburetor that was rated at 275 hp and the public would buy 6,256 equipped this way. The AAR ‘Cuda would also use the 340 engine in another 2,724 copies, but with 3X2-barrel carbs which would be good for at least 290 hp.

But the AAR ‘Cuda was different in other ways, as well. It had a unique stripe called a strobe, which encased the special AAR ‘Cuda logo. It also had a light-weight fiberglass hood with a unique hood scoop. The car had spoilers fore (sort of) and aft and the AAR’s exhaust came out the sides near the back wheels. These cars, which were built over a five-week period in March and April 1970, were potent performers. An AAR ‘Cuda could do 0-60 mph in 5.8 seconds, 0-100 mph and the standing quarter mile in 14.4 seconds, and had a top end speed of 137 mph. Oh, baby!

This AAR ‘Cuda may be a bit unusual in that it came with the factory with a column-shifted automatic. 1,614 were said to have the TorqueFlite, but I’m betting more of them were floor shifted rather than on the tree. This enabled the buyer to select a bench seat rather than buckets, which also strikes me as something which would have been ordered on fewer occasions. The ‘Cuda is equipped with a Rallye dashboard with an eight-track radio (was there ever such a thing?). We’re told the Plymouth has its original fender and Trans Am tags (which seem to have rusted off the car), along with sticker and body stamps plus the build sheet, so the car appears to be the real deal.

The car wore one of Plymouth’s Hi-Impact colors when it left the factory, FJ5 Limelight (called Sublime at Dodge). But it looks as though another hue of green was applied in later years. The body looks a bit rough, but we don’t note any see-through corrosion, just a lot of surface rust underneath, on the floorboards and there is some trying to brew around the rear window. The seller says the car comes with the A21 Elastomeric front bumper, but the photos show a regular Barracuda bumper that sits somewhat askew. The hood and rear spoiler are reproduction, not factory.

While it’s great that the correct AAR steering box and torque boxes are intact, the fact remains that the car no longer has its 340 (with a 6-pack or otherwise) or transmission, so the buyer is getting a roller that will need a lot of work. But the online price guides point to these being six-figure cars in the proper condition. Given that a only few hundred of these cars have likely survived, it would be great to see this AAR ‘Cuda back on the road once again!

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  1. Steve R

    Based on the amount and type of original parts that are missing this looks like it was previously someone’s parts car.

    Steve R

    Like 20
  2. sir_mike

    Sad…best of luck to whomever tries restoring her….sad

    Like 4
  3. gaspumpchas

    Yea Mike sad to see in this condition, and Steve R correct its picked over like a turkey carcass after thanksgiving. Guess its only worth what someone will pay for it..seems pricey, the AAR option might make it worth more. At the risk of beating a dead horse, to get the correct mill and tranny and a resto you are pushing 100k, IMHO. Good luck and stay safe.

    Like 5
  4. Tooyoung4heyday Member

    Great color but weird combo. Can’t say I’ve ever seen a bench seat column shift AAR. Seems like there have been quite a few Cuda/Barracuda’s popping up on this site for sale optioned that way. I’ve always felt that these should’ve been offered as 4 speed cars only like the Z/28 and Boss 302 cars were. Its a shame this one looks like it has been picked over, doesnt seem all that terrible to have been restored on its own. The powertrains are out there but that would obviously turn this into a non numbers car. Would be nice to have correctness with this oddball. Another couple more things of note that are unique to the AAR’s is the rear mounted radio antenna and they came with staggered tires. E60 up front and G60 in rear on 15″ wheels. Also the shadow treatment of grille rear panel and hood. Hope it goes to a good home.

    Like 1
    • PaulG

      I’ve left this comment before when the AAR or a Challenger T/A pops up here; I was fortunate to purchase a “70 Duster 340 that came w/ a trailer full of additional MOPAR parts from the same era (from a GM only guy…) and once home discovered in this vast collection a nearly complete and original 340 AAR engine. I contacted Barry Washington who runs the Hamtramck registry and after taking note of all the numbers including the partial VIN stamped on the block, found it’s rightful place: a fully restored AAR in N California. A deal was struck and it’s now where it belongs. SO, a numbers matching motor for this car may still be out there somewhere!

      Like 15
      • stillrunners stillrunners Member

        Correct – the Mopar forum has a section for parts such as motors – trans – and rear ends with that all important vin # stamping – trying to reunite separated parts – to their rightful home.

        Like 2
    • PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

      Bench seat in a Barracuda – that’s a new one on me, and I thought I knew these cars pretty well.

      How many years did they offer that, and was it an option over the buckets?

      AAR is my favorite model, and I agree about this not being the ideal configuration. My stripper ’73 Barracuda was like this one – auto on the column – but had buckets, so nothing but a plain transmission hump.

      Like 1
  5. MorganW MorganW Member

    Interestingly, the 340 motor in factory form was ineligible for the Trans-Am series due to the 5 liter size limit…they had to be de-stroked to around 303 CI.

    Like 3
    • Steve R

      That was the case with every other 1970 model car running the series that year except for the Boss 302.

      Steve R

      Like 3
  6. Slantasaurus

    A buyer could not order a AAR ‘Cuda or Challenger T/A, the factory optioned all these cars on their own. You could buy what the dealer had on the lot or search for one optioned close to what you wanted but you couldn’t build your own.

    Like 5
  7. JohnfromSC

    This one is way overpriced, and I speak as an AAR owner. Hemmings has a decent driver, matching numbers AAR with a low 50’s ask right now. This one easily would cost $30K to get right but without matching drivetrain would be a $50 -55K car max when done.

    BTW, this wasn’t a one year car, rather all were made in a short six weeks starting mid March 1970. There were a few 3 on tree examples. The best ones have add ons such as rallye gauges, deluxe light group, elastomeric bumper, rear defog and rear window louvers. I’ve yet to see one with every one of those.

    Like 6
  8. erik johnston

    I bought a barracuda Gran Coupe with the elistac bumper. Found in the sunday paper $350. Neat car

    Like 2
  9. Poncho

    Hmmm. Missing motor and trans. Needs plenty of bodywork and finish items. Even though I know where I could find a correct 340TA motor for this, I’m out at the price and the fact that it is green. Holding out for a Blue one. Missed opportunity back in the 80’s to buy a Vitamin C Orange one off the original owner for $5k. He owned a machine shop and rebuilt the engine himself, so probably threw in every secret he knew to squeeze more juice out of that Orange. $5k seemed a little out of reach back then, so bought a 69 Firebird off the original owner instead. Still have that car.

    Like 5
    • Doc Member

      Check Hemmings. Blue AAR up for auction right now $51,500

      Like 3
  10. Greg Millard Member

    Interesting background on 1970 Trans Am Chrysler product

    Like 1
    • Bmac777 Member

      Thx for the link
      Good read, interesting how they got the 340 down to 303 ci.

      Like 1
  11. Tooyoung4heyday Member

    A family friend had one up until the mid 90’s. It was In-Violet (plum crazy) with black vinyl top and black interior. Was a good looking combination that i wish i couldve got my hands on. He sold the car back then for a down payment on a new house. Car went to the east coast, I think Vermont. The new owner was supposed to send restoration pics back but never did. Within the last ten years one like it popped up for sale through Legendary Motorcars, i thought just maybe it was the car but i never pursued it. Amazing what cars sold for before the boom in early 2000’s.

    Like 1
  12. SJMike

    I thought- wow, looks like a nice project can’t imagine selling it. Then saw the price. You would be a fool not to sell if you can find somebody dumb enough to buy it.

    Like 1
  13. Kevin

    It’s very sad that such a collectable was allowed to rot like this,looks like a job for graveyard cars,which I hope comes back to t.v.soon.

    Like 1
  14. Richard L Van Dyke Member

    The price, IMHO, is ridiculously high for this car. If they take a picture of that much rust what does the rest of the underside look like?

    Like 1
  15. stillrunners stillrunners Member

    Picked over ???? Can you guys read and see ???? Basically just missing complete motor/exhaust and a trans. All the other spec parts are there including the rally dash which all did not come with. AM/FM 8track is as rare as the am/fm cassette with microphone to record option. Floors look good and the seat aren’t bad either – just shows this car was taken care off some what. The truck floor pan are always bad.

    Like 1
    • Steve R

      The hood and spoiler are reproduction, as stated in the ad. It’s also missing the optional radio and rubberized front bumper. The only spec part remaining is the steering box and VIN numbers, there is no mention of what rear end is in the car. To me, that means it’s been pretty well stripped of valuable parts, except for the rally dash.

      Steve R

      Like 2
  16. Arthur

    I suspect it would take a lot of hard bargaining for a professional hot rod builder to get the seller to lower the price that would make it economically feasible to turn this Cuda into pro-touring project powered by a Hellcat engine.

    Like 1
  17. Jim Davis

    Ok, I thought somebody would chime in more on the bench seat. I’ve read what I could find on these; from what I understand bench seats were standard and buckets were an option on at least on e-bodies. Considering how few bench seats we see this wouldn’t seem right but it makes sense to me.
    Since seats are quick and easy to swap, they could have been swapped in from the car that took the buckets.
    Anybody weird like me and follow 67-68 Mercury Cougars? They have the same thing with seats, most are bucket but a few are bench. It’s an odd occurrence in that time frame of cars….

    Like 2
    • Michael Moceri

      I owned a 70 Cuda U code. Bench seat, auto on the column. Rallye dash, AC. 3 speaker dash. R35 radio.

  18. George Mattar

    As usual every Mopar owner thinks he has gold. This heap is way over priced. Restored like GYC would do it and these are only worth $75,000. Good luck. At least the fender tag didn’t rust into oblivion.

  19. Steve

    About the bench seat and auto on the tree. I was at my local Plymouth dealership purchasing parts back in the mid ’70’s. I took a stroll through the used car lot. A ’70 440 six pak ‘Cuda with the bench and auto on the tree. I thought, really! Who would want that. Although my friends ’68 Hemi Road Runner is the same way.

    Like 1
  20. Hemidavey

    The matching numbers stuff is long gone right? I think I’d put a Hemi in it! I know its sacriligous but wait a minute- When you consider cost of the special 340 block, heads, rocker gear, intake, carbs and absurd air cleaner it may be cost effective to do a nice aluminum headed hemi! I put one in my 72 Cuda and it doesn’t handle any different than the 340 I took out!
    By the way I found one of these in a field in Farmington Mi in 1978, nearly stripped to the bone but still had the dash and all tags! My friend got the glass hood. Probably went to the scrap yard…

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