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Plymouth’s version of Chrysler E-Body sports coupe closely resembled the Dodge Challenger, though it shared no body panels except the windshield, and rode on a 108-inch wheelbase that was two inches shorter. As good as the two cars were, they were about a year late since federal emissions and safety regulations gutted their performance by 1972 and the 1973 Arab oil embargo hijacked fuel prices.
E-Body sales never matched optimistic projections of 225,000 cars a year. The year 1970 would be the best for both E-Body models with 55,499 Barracudas and 83,032 Challengers sold. Plymouth Barracuda sales broke down to 25,651 base Hardtops, 1,554 base Convertibles, 8,183 Gran Coupe Hardtops, 596 Gran Coupe Convertibles, 18,880 ’Cuda Hardtops, 635 ’Cuda Convertibles and 2,724 AAR ’Cudas.
Like the Challenger, the 1970 Plymouth Barracuda offered three lines, and three body styles; an entry-level Coupe with fixed rear side windows, a Hardtop and Convertible. There were nine engines available, ranging from a 145 bhp, 225 cid slant-six through the thundering 455 bhp, 426 cid Hemi V-8.
Base gearbox was a 3-speed manual unit, with two 4-speed pistol-grip manual options, depending on the engine ($195), and a 3-speed column-shift or console Slap Stik automatic transmission ($200-$227). There were five performance axle packages. Buyers could order the Performance Axle Package, High-Performance Axle Package, Super-Performance Axle Package, Track Pak and Super Trak Pak. The various packages upgraded different drivetrains and the last two were just for racing.
The base 1970 Plymouth Barracuda and luxury Gran Coupe (somewhat like Challenger’s SE package) could be ordered with the six or 318 cid V-8, and two optional 383 V-8s (290 or 335 bhp, depending on carburetor).
The high-performance ’Cuda came standard with a 335 bhp 383 cid Magnum V-8, with the options of a conservatively estimated 275 bhp 340 cid V-8 (no charge), a 375 bhp 440 cid 4-barrel Magnum V-8 ($131), 390 bhp 440 cid V-8, 6-barrel Magnum V-8 ($250) or 455 bhp 426 cid Hemi V-8 ($871).
The AAR ‘Cuda joined the ranks in March 1970, thanks to Dan Gurney’s All American Racers (AAR) Plymouth ‘Cudas campaigned in the SCCA Trans Am series. Like the T/A Doge Challenger, its 340 cid V-8 was de-stroked to 305 cid for racing, fed by three 2-barrel carburetors. The AAR ’Cuda is easily recognized by its aggressive strobe stripes, 4-speed gearbox and blacked-out cold-air intake hood.
As 1970 is the high point for ’Cudas it’s instructive to note how few high performance cars were built, and why they are so valuable today. For example, there were just 14 1970 Hemi ‘Cuda Convertibles, 652 Hemi ‘Cuda Hardtops, 34 Magnum 440 ‘Cuda Convertibles and 2,724 AAR ‘Cudas.
Plymouth offered 13 standard colors at the start of production, and five High Impact colors. The colors and codes were: Blue Fire Metallic (B5), Lime Green Metallic (J5), Deep Burnet Orange Metallic (K5), Sandpebble Beige (L1), Rallye Red (E5), Burnt Tan Metallic (T6), Black Velvet (X9), Citron Mist Metallic (Y4), Ice Blue Metallic (B3), Jubilee Blue Metallic (B7), Ivy Green Metallic (F8), Yellow Gold (Y3) and Alpine White (W1). Five High Impact colors were: TorRed (V2), In Violet Metallic (C7), Lemon Twist (Y1), Limelight (J5) and Vitamin C Orange (K2). Two more High Impact colors were added mid-year: Moulin Rouge (M3) and Sassy-Grass Green (J6). A “Gator Grain” black vinyl top was offered as well as two “Mod Top” floral patterns, one blue and one yellow.
There were a dizzying number of equipment packages with the Barracuda, Gran Coupe and ’Cuda models, which led to window stickers that could be several pages long, and consequently important to collectors concerned about authenticity. They encompassed everything from dress-up kits, to luxury options and power plant and transmission combinations.