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Triple Black Treat: 1973 Plymouth ‘Cuda

Particular paint and trim combinations virtually guarantee that a classic will turn heads. Such is the case with this 1973 Plymouth ‘Cuda. These are inherently attractive cars, but the original owner’s decision to adopt a “triple black” approach helps it to stand apart from the crowd. It looks tired but is a solid vehicle that could be a rewarding restoration project. Adding to its appeal, this beauty runs and drives, allowing the new owner to indulge in immediate motoring gratification. The ‘Cuda is listed here on Craigslist in Lawton, Michigan. It could be yours for $20,000, and I must say a big thank you to eagle-eyed Barn Finder Tony P for spotting this promising project.

I have always admitted a fondness for the Third Generation Barracuda range because I believe Plymouth produced a car with a genuine presence. This ‘Cuda emerged from the factory in 1973, and it would undoubtedly have had many admirers when new. Its original owner ordered it in Formal Black with a matching vinyl top. Time has taken a toll on its appearance, with the paint heavily faded and the vinyl a distant memory. However, there are plenty of positive qualities worth considering. Rust was always an issue with these classics, and this ‘Cuda hasn’t avoided those problems. The vehicle is structurally sound and can be safely used in its current condition. It has the typical areas around the back window and rust appearing in the floors and trunk pan. An in-person inspection would reveal the full extent, but well-crafted patches might be a viable alternative for those wishing to avoid wholesale steel replacement. The new owner can take their time making that decision, allowing scope to assemble the budget to recapture the car’s former glory. The trim condition varies from good to restorable, and the glass shows no signs of problems. The ‘Cuda rolls on a set of Rallye wheels that accentuate its muscular good looks.

The seller supplies no clear interior shots, although the Fender Tag confirms it rolled off the showroom floor trimmed in Black vinyl with matching carpet. The seller states that the front seats have received new foam, but the remaining major interior components appear unchanged. The condition is unclear, meaning including the cost of a complete retrim in the restoration budget would be wise. However, few things are more rewarding than stepping back to admire an interior you have brought back from the brink.

The news improves considerably when we focus on this Plymouth’s drivetrain. The major mechanical components include a range-topping 340ci V8, a four-speed manual transmission, and power assistance for the steering and brakes. That V8 should produce 240hp and 295 ft/lbs of torque, allowing the ‘Cuda to cover the ¼-mile in 15.4 seconds. That made this car slower than the most potent versions of the Mustang Mach 1 or Camaro Z28, but it certainly kept them honest! The news with this numbers-matching classic is excellent for those seeking a turnkey vehicle. The seller states that it runs and drives well, meaning the buyer can enjoy this gem immediately while they plan its future.

Some project candidates are more affordable than others, and this 1973 Plymouth ‘Cuda pushes the upper boundaries of that definition. However, it is a turnkey classic that retains its original drivetrain. Paint and trim combinations can significantly impact the potential value of any vehicle, and this car features one of the most desirable. It needs work to regain its former beauty, but a potential value above $40,000 awaits an owner achieving a high-end result. That leaves room to move with the purchase price, particularly if the buyer is very hands-on in their approach. That makes this ‘Cuda worth a closer look.


  1. Moparman Moparman Member

    The combination of a 340/4 spd manual makes this an attractive project…BUT, the rust holes in the top, and both rear quarter panels, are going to be costly to repair. Not to mention the fact that the decklid will need to be replaced and the trunk floor is suspect. One would need to find a RESTORATION shop, as most body shops won’t touch aa old car, preferring to to do quick insurance in/out repairs. I wanted one of these badly when new, but the deal fell through; now, I’m downsizing and not taking on any projects this major! GLWTS!! :-)

    Like 16
    • Jack Pittillo

      You’re right it’s a lot of work and money it cheaper to buy one already done

      Like 0
  2. Scotty Gilbertson Staff

    An engine photo but not one interior photo? That may be a first. Nice one, Adam and Tony! Given the crazy market and this being a ‘Cuda with a factory 340 and four-speed, that price doesn’t seem that bad to me. It isn’t 1979 anymore.

    Speaking of that, in 1979, my best friend went to look at what he thought was a 1969 Barracuda for $750 and it turned out to be a 1973 Barracuda, which he bought instantly. The quarter panels were rusty after only six Minnesota winters, so he changed them himself and did some incredible bodywork and interior work, not to mention changing the engine to a 340. He still has that car 45 years later and it’s still in perfect condition.

    Like 18
    • Frog

      There’s a couple interior photos in the actual ad. Nothing to help convince anyone into buying it IMHO. I always liked the barracuda better than the challenger and this one checked all of my boxes until we got to the rust. Can’t build a house on sand.

      Like 6
  3. Jay Martell

    Nice Cuda^.Not the best year but it’s worth restoring.From the back,is it a Barracuda or a Corvair?

    Like 5
  4. Mike B

    Looks like that top could use some “Just for Mopar”.

    Like 4
  5. Rustomodrob

    Once knew a “Gal 🎶🎶 in Kalamazoo..zoo…zoo…zoo” 😉

    Like 3
  6. Paul Barger

    I had a nice 73 while in the Navy. It was green, white stripes, white interior, white vinyl top,318 2bb. I went out to sea and when I returned it was gone. I reported it stolen in 1982 but it was never found.
    I paid $1250 in 1980 no rust at all then. Oh to have that car back now. Cannot afford one now,funny how time changes things.

    Like 6
  7. frozenbird

    It’s funny how a lot of restored perfect examples are so under valued considering the work and money it takes to get them to that point. Then you get examples like this and others that are so overpriced due to the work and money needed to get them to a ‘underpriced restored car’. While this car deserves to get restored, at this price you would be so under water by the time you are done just go buy one already done.

    Like 5
  8. Mike Adams

    I was once going to buy a triple black 340 4 speed ’73 ‘Cuda. Only it was a painted to and not vinyl. I was young, however, with not much credit, and the bank wouldn’t finance it because the ’74’s were already out, and the ’73 would be “too depreciated.”

    So I bought a brown 318 automatic ’74 with a white vinyl top.

    Stupid bank.

    Like 4
  9. Dan

    While the potential value of this car when finished will be in the $40K range, it’ll cost more than that to restore it, based on what I see here. No photos of the interior is usually ominous and I don’t like the ginormous rust holes on each quarter panel. But if you’re planning on enjoying it once the restoration is done, this may be a good project because that 340 apparently runs well. Even for the less desirable ’73, in 4 years I wouldn’t be surprised to see prices around $50-55K if this car becomes a #2 or high #3.

    Like 0
    • Frog

      I think what many people are failing to realize is rusty/rusted metal cannot be permanently fixed repaired or restored. In a few short years from exposure to the elements it will start rearing its ugly side like a cold sore on a first date. But live and learn it’s your money.

      Like 0
  10. James

    $20K for the car, with restoration the total cost will more than double that. In the end worth less than what you have into it. Better off searching for one with restoration already completed.

    Like 0
    • Frog

      I agree with an exception. I would only have interest if definitive pictures were taken before and during. Every one has their opinion as to what’s bad or not and the last thing you want to do is spend tens of thousands of dollars on a gussied up rust bucket.

      Like 1
  11. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    GONE, and not too surprised.

    Fixer upper Cudas are getting rare.

    Like 0
  12. erik johnston

    I watch the old reruns of the show”manix”. In some episode’s he drives a cuda convert.It looks like a 70′. The car is a 72-bumpetts on bumpers, the ugly round tail lights.
    This could be a great one to change over to the early look-then you get the looks of a 70-71 cuda.all the parts are there on a shelf-just buy them.I,m sure that has been done 1,000 of times.solid looking car!!

    Like 0
    • PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

      I actually like the look of the 72 – 74 Cuda. But that’s because a ’73 Barracuda was my first car.

      If I had to choose between which was better looking – a 70 or 71 – I would choose the 71. It looks like Plymouth put a lot more detailing into that model year, just to cut it out a year later. Must have been a cost saving measure because even the side markers got a lot cheaper looking.

      Like 0
    • Midway

      Joe’s best car was a 69 GTX convertible. Wish it was ’69 now

      Like 0

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