Plymouth Hemi Cuda (1970 – 1971)
Plymouth Barracuda saga began in 1964 as a fastback coupe based on the Valiant. The first-generation Barracuda was mostly famous for its distinctive wraparound rear glass, but also for being Plymouth’s first sporty, compact vehicle or “pony car.”
No match for the popular Ford Mustang, the Barracuda was redesigned for 1967, when notchback and convertible versions joined the already familiar fastback. Although still Valiant-based, the second-gen Barracuda received new sheet metal and larger engines, including Chrysler’s 7.2-liter, 440 Commando V-8 and the 7.0-liter, HEMI 426 V-8.
The Barracuda reached its popularity peak in the early 1970s, as the heavily redesigned, third-generation model joined the muscle car wars. Longer and wider, the 1970 Barracuda renounced its Valiant roots and adopted an image of its own, while sitting on Chrysler’s new E-body platform.
The third-generation Barracuda also marked the demise of Plymouth’s main weapon against the Ford Mustang. As the oil crisis struck and compression ratios were reduced in performance engines, the nameplate died altogether after the 1974 model year.
Fortunately enough, the short-lived HEMI Cuda, sold only in 1970 and 1971, made a huge impact in the muscle car world, enabling the Barracuda moniker to sit alongside the like of the Mustang, Camaro and Challenger at the top of the pony car kingdom.
Although the original HEMI died 50 years ago and Plymouth got the axe in 2001, the HEMI Cuda lives on as one of America’s most prized collectible car. Read on to find out what makes the Cuda a special muscle