Back in 1970, buying a used race car from "Cheapie Charlie" didn't make it. Buying a new, ready-to-race car from your local Chrysler-Plymouth dealer made it.
That's because Ma Mopar not only included the 340 Magnum, 440 Magnum, 440 Six-Barrel, and 426 Hemi on the new that year E-Body Barracuda option list; the list also included the Super Track Pack option. Check code A34 when you ordered either of the RB engines or the Hemi, and you'd get a Dana 60 in back for $235 extra on the sticker.
Add (or leave off) the options needed to keep the weight down and the power up, and you'd have a 'Cuda priced under $4,200 on the sticker, ready for needed safety equipment, aftermarket tach and gauges, lighter-weight wheels and tires in front, and the biggest rear rubber the Stock class rules allowed in back. (Maybe add a set of headers and unbolt the OEM exhaust while you're at it.)
Such was the case of this F8 Ivy Green Poly 'Cuda creation. Three-plus decades later, to say that it needed help is an understatement. "It needed to be restored," Mauro Brocca says from his Oakville, Ontario, Canada, shop. His inspection showed that its original mileage likely added up one quarter-mile at a time. "It seems like the car was heavily drag raced," he says. "We were able to tell from the K-frame modifications, and some structural damage/twisting within the framerail and the rear was from the car hooking up.
"It had been very well used," Mauro adds. That structural damage may have been spotted over the years by tell-tale paint cracking along the sides, or windshield cracking whenever it was run hard, thanks to the original E-Body unibody not having its front and rear subframes tied together during assembly. (Flying windshields on hard launches were also a symptom of this problem.) Mauro says, "It didn't have any of that, but if it did, it would have helped it. That's what a lot of people left out back then-frame connectors."
One big item in this Fish when Mauro found it nearly a decade ago was the original, numbers-matching powertrain. Fortunately, they (the 440 Magnum, the 18-spline A-833, and Dana 60 rear end) were still in the car, and fortunately, the fender tag identified this particular 'Cuda as one of the 100 or so U-code 440-powered ones that had a 4.10-geared A34 Super Track Pak installed at Hamtramck Assembly.
Once Mauro and shop partner Jeffrey Cabot had it in their shop, it was clear that it was time for a full-on restoration, which took three years. "We [basically] built that car from scratch," Mauro says of the job they started by getting the E-Body down to its bare unibody. "We took it all apart, dipped it, and put it back together again. Every component had to come off that car, or the acid stripper would burn away all the wiring, gaskets-everything," says Danny. "Once it's down to the bare steel, you have to treat the steel that's not exposed and make sure all the acid is out of the car, or it'll burn through the metal eventually. It's a big process."
Then Jeff went through the process of repair (including the torque-tweaked as well as rust-damaged unibody parts). By "restoration," the car was rebuilt exactly the way it was ordered back then, and not turned into a Hemi 'Cuda tribute or something else that it never was.
When completed, what was it like to drive? Says Mauro, "Taking it down the track was the best part about it. It's as smooth as an Imperial, but when you get on it, it'll let loose like a lion. It's a nice car to drive."
Standard 'Cuda gearbox was...
Standard 'Cuda gearbox was a three-speed, with this Hurst Pistol-Grip-equipped four-speed optional.
The numbers-matching 440 wears...
The numbers-matching 440 wears its correct for the U-code four-barrel, plus plenty of date-coded and correct-numbered (and colored) parts.
How did he find this car in the first place? To quote baseball great Yogi Berra, "You can observe a lot just by looking. "I do a lot of looking around, and I get a lot of phone calls from people who know that I've been [working on cars] for a while. That, and a good friend, Glen McMeeken, called Mauro to tell of a 'Cuda that he'd found.
At the Mopar Nationals in 2009, this car scored the OE Gold award in recognition of the job done to restore it to its original condition-and glory.
The U-code 440 got its share...
The U-code 440 got its share of attention during the three-year resto.
Since then, this 'Cuda has found a new home in Danny's garage. "I showed it at Performance World in Toronto, and I did really, really well," he says. "One of the good things about that show was there was a car that came in from France, a Hemi 'Cuda. We went up against it, and we seemed to do a lot better than he did."
If you're interested in "garage archaeology," hoping to discover an ultra-rare Mopar, or at least one that's worth building the way you want it, Mauro has this advice: "Always look for something that's a seven out of ten, or an eight out of ten" he says. "On this car, we couldn't have started with a worse project to restore and go down to the Nationals with. Being our first one, and being really green at it-no pun intended-that made it a lot harder. We were surprised that we actually made it through with that, but it all went into part of being hard on ourselves to get to that point."
No matter how you measure...
No matter how you measure trunk volume, there isn't much of it. Full-size spare was correct for the standard '70 'Cuda.
Danny echoes his cousin's advice. "You've really got to watch what you buy. You've got to make sure, because you don't know how much money you're going to end up spending. That's the biggest problem. You could be into a car for a lot more than it's worth."
1970 Plymouth Barrauda 440 hardtop
Owned by: Danny Spinosa, Oakville, Ontario
Restored by: Mauro Broca and Jeffrey Cabot, Oakville, Ontario
- Engine: The original, numbers-matching U-code 440 Magnum was in the 'Cuda when they found it, and it's been rebuilt to its original configuration.
- Transmission: Same story with the 18-spline A-833 four-speed and factory Hurst Pistol Grip shifter--worn out when found, then restored and re-installed.
- Rearend: The original Dana 60 that came with the 'Cuda's Super Track Pak option was restored and is again running 4.10 gears like it did when new.
F70-14 Goodyear tires are...
F70-14 Goodyear tires are reproductions of the OEM tires, which, along with the steelies and poverty caps, usually came off when it came time to prep for the drags.
- Suspension: Just like it had when it rolled off the line at Hamtramck Assembly: heavy-duty longitudinal torsion bars and sway bar in front, heavy-duty leaf springs in back, and heavy-duty shocks all around.
- Brakes: Restored original front discs and rear 10-inch drums
- Wheels and Tires: 14-inch OEM steelies wear correct '70 Plymouth dog dish caps and repro F70-14 bias-ply Goodyear Polyglas tires.
- Body: Not only was the 'Cuda's unibody suffering the effects of rust and rot, it had also been twisted by many a non-subframe-connector-equipped starts. They had to remove the old paint and rust, then unbend the underpinnings, while replacing rusted-out sheetmetal with repro panels.
- Paint: Once the bodywork was done, a new application of the original F8 Ivy Green Poly color went on.
- Interior: Restored to low-option goodness with new seat covers, carpets, dashpad, and not much more. (AM radio was the car's only interior option.)