History of the Plymouth Barracuda: In 1970, The 'Cuda Came Into Its Own
Believe it or not, the Barracuda was considered an economy car up through 1969, mostly due to its standard A-body frame. But looking to shed its economy car persona, and put on a real muscle car face, Plymouth engineers went to work on ensuring that the third generation of the car really came into its own. And muscle car fans should be eternally grateful.
The Third Generation (1970-71) The ‘70 Barracuda was built on Chrysler’s popular E-body, which was wider and more compact than the B platform. It shared this distinction with the Challenger, though, in most other ways the two vehicles were unique. Options packages for the 1970 Barracuda included a base unit, a more luxurious Gran Coupe, and the ‘Cuda Sport. Styles were limited to a two-door notch back and a convertible. The third generation had a 108” wheelbase, was 74.9”wide, rose 50.9” high, and stretched 108” long. The ‘70 and ‘71 base and Gran Coupe models included buyer’s choice of two different six-cylinder engines, a 198 cu. in. version and a 225 cu. in. unit. Plymouth also offered three V8 options: A 318 cu. in. model, a 383 cu. in. model with a two barrel carb, and a 383 cu. in. model with four-barrel carb and dual exhaust that turned out 330 horses. The ’Cuda Sport had a 383 cu. in. 335-horsepower engine standard, with optional 426 cu. in. hemi and 440 cu. in. Super Commando packages available as well. The latter two offered both four-barrel and six-barrel carburetors. Horsepower ranged from 335 horsepower in the 383 to 425 horsepower in the 426 cu. in. engine. Transmission choices for the third-generation included both three and four speed manuals and a three-speed TorqueFlite automatic.
The Barracuda gained notice in racing circles in 1970 when Dan Gurney and Swede Savage drove specially modified ‘Cudas in that year’ s Trans-Am Series. Plymouth released a street version of the car that was powered by a 340 cu. in. engine fed by three 2-barrel carbs. Chrysler’s French racing division drove four different 1970 Hemi Cudas from’ 70 through’ 73. One of the cars earned four championships—three on the track, and one during a hill-climbing competition. 1971 saw the Barracuda get a new grill, taillights, seat, and trim. ‘71 also was the only year that Plymouth released a four-headlight version. Other innovations that year included the value-minded Barracuda Coupe and a ‘Cuda with faux gills on the front panels. The company dropped the four-barrel 440 cu. in. option in favor of a six-barrel carb configuration instead. Next week we’ll look at the’ 72-‘74 Barracudas. See you soon.