The 1970 Plymouth AAR `Cuda took its name from Dan Gurney’s All-American Racers (AAR) team. This team promoted the Barracuda in the popular Sports Car Club of America’s (SCCA) Trans-Am competition series. The track version of the AAR `Cuda (#42) ran a 440-bhp, 305-cid with a single four-barrel carburetor and was lowered and modified to endure the winding race track of this circuit. This car was driven during the 1970 Trans-Am Championship by Dan Gurney in the first two races and Swede Savage in the final eight races of the season; there was one race (Mid Ohio) that neither raced in.
Although the AAR `Cuda looks the sportiest, it is not the most powerful. It was built to homologate (approve) the small-block engine for SCCA racing production. There were 2724 AAR `Cuda built between the dates of 11 March and 17 April 1970 at the Hamtramck, Michigan assembly plant. There are 1700 AAR `Cuda in the Transamcuda AAR `Cuda Registry as of 22 October 2016.
The document to the left (or above) is a magazine advertisement from back in the day, I sent to Dan Gurney for his autograph, he was gracious enough to provide one, in the lower right corner.
The production AAR `Cuda employed a 290-bhp @ 5000 rpm, 340-cid with three two-barrel Holley carburetors on an Edelbrock aluminum intake manifold. Options include an A-833 four-speed manual or A727 TorqueFlite automatic transmission, with a Sure-Grip axle and standard 3.55:1 or optional 3.91:1 gears. The distribution of transmissions delivered in these cars were 1120 4-speed manual and 1604 3-speed automatic. The engine breathes through a functional hood scoop. The AAR ‘Cuda accompaniments in the interior were modest; however, the exterior certainly was not. With “high-impact” colors, black-matte fiberglas hood, front-to-rear side body strobe stripes with tri-colored AAR Shield and black ‘Ducktail’ spoiler made this one unique fish! Special shocks were added and re-cambered rear springs which raised the tail an additional 1.75” over standard `Cuda specifications to allow clearance for the exhaust pipes that exited in front of the rear tires. This also allowed for the use of Goodyear Polyglas GT G60 x 15” tires in the rear, paired with E60 x 15” tires in the front, making it the first production car from Detroit to roll off an assembly line with a mismatched tire configuration.
All 340-6bbl engines used in the TRANS AM package cars were equipped with a solenoid, which attached to the engine via a special bracket mounted towards the back of the front 2-bbl Holley. The two rear carb-to-intake bolts hold this bracket in place, and the I.D. number, DR1114429, is stamped on the barrel and faces the front of the engine. The plunger should have a brass round head. The solenoid wire, colored medium blue, is incorporated into the wiring harness, and a special nylon clip (either white or black) on the throttle return bracket holds the wire.
The most complete documented history of the AAR `Cuda that I could find was authored by Tom Quadrini, the former President of the Northeast HEMI Owners Association. This article was originally published in CLASSIC CHRYSLER QUARTERLY, Summer 1987 issue; a copy of his article may be found here.
The Ducktail Spoiler (J82) located on the rear of the trunk lid was made of ABS plastic. This spoiler closely bears a resemblance to that found on the track version of the AAR.
Also referred to as 'Eyebrow' or 'Chin Whisker' Spoilers (J78), these spoilers were mounted on the front of the car, both sides, directly below the bumper. Though actual placement of these spoilers varied as they were shipped in the trunk and installed by the dealer.
The AAR `Cuda Side Mounted Exhaust (N44) exited immediately in front of the back tires, on both sides of the car, after being routed through the mufflers. The exhaust tips are chrome, trumpet style, also shipped in the trunk and installed by the dealer.
The large Air Cleaner on the AAR `Cuda conceals three two-barrel Holley carburetors sitting on top of an Edelbrock intake manifold. This set-up on the AAR `Cuda was referred to as the "340 Six Barrel" (F08) whereas its T/A counterpart referred to this as the "340 Six Pack".
The Fiberglas Hood (N94) was a fresh-air induction system using only hood pins (J45) to secure it to the car. The hood, along with the tops of the fenders, the front grill, upper door edges and the tail panel were painted with a textured black paint called 'Organosol' which is no longer available. The paint code in the system at a PPG dealer will be listed as Ditzler DDL 9355.
The AAR `Cuda included Longitudinal 'Strobe' Stripes (V6H) on both sides, running the length of the upper side of the car. The segments, starting at the front of the car, were several inches wide, and progressively reduced in width by approximately 4% to the rear of the car. There it was met with the CUDA logo and the Red, White and Blue AAR emblem.
This chart shows the color distribution of known AAR `Cuda's. The numbers corresponding to each color are a courtesy of Jeff Bangert of the AAR `Cuda Registry, Transamcuda, and are up-to-date as of 22 July 2017; these numbers are subject to change at anytime. The * preceding the color code signifies a High Impact Color.