One of the greatest things about the muscle car era is the sheer number of available models and performance options that were offered. From the late '60s through to the early '70s buyers could choose from an assortment of full-size, intermediate, compact and pony cars upgraded and decked out with a variety of go-fast goodies.
The 1970 Plymouth Barracuda lineup featured versions ranging from a base model to the upscale performance 'Cuda. At the top of the lineup was an exclusive one-off model called the AAR 'Cuda.
These rare machines were produced to replicate the cars driven by Dan Gurney's All-American Racers Team, who were campaigning Barracudas in the Sports Car Club of America's popular competition series, as well as the Trans Am racing circuit. Power came from a J-Code 340 cubic-inch V-8, equipped with 10.5:1 compression ratio, Edelbrock aluminium intake manifold and three Holley two-barrel carburetors. Output was rated at 290 horsepower at 5,000 r.p.m. and 335 lb/ft of torque at 3,400 r.p.m. Transmission options included the Chrysler New-Process four-speed manual with Hurst floor shift or a 727 Torqueflite automatic. The 8 3/4-inch Sure-Grip rear axle could have either the 3.55:1 or optional 3.91:1 gear ratio.
The AAR also used a unique exhaust system, incorporating dual exhaust running through the mufflers to a J-bend exit pipe and chrome tip that sat just ahead of the rear wheel. The rear leaf spring package on the AAR sat the rear of the car up an additional 1 3/4-inches to ensure exhaust clearance.
Visually the AAR carried some very exclusive trim. The hood was fibreglass with hood pins and a fully functional air scoop feeding cooler air from outside of the engine compartment to the three Holley carburetors. The hood and tops of the fenders were finished in matte-black and blended well with the black AAR strobe-stripe running the length of the car on each side. Up front small eyebrow spoilers were placed at the leading edge of the fenders and a full width ducktail spoiler was added to the trunk.
Performance for the AAR 'Cuda was pretty respectable for the day. Zero to 60 m.p.h. came in 5.8 seconds and the quarter-mile ticked by in 14.4 seconds at 99.5 m.p.h. The small-block V-8 weighed less than the larger big-block V-8 engines and offered an improved power-to-weight ratio and better handling in the curves.
With a base price of $4,340 there were only 2,724 AAR models built, 1,604 with an automatic transmission and 1,120 with the four-speed manual. Today, the AAR Registry has tracked more than 1,300 that still exist, with 140 of those currently in Canada,
For Rhonda Reyher of Winnipeg fast Mopars are nothing new. Already the owner of a 440-powered 1968 GTX that's been in the family since she was a teenager, Reyher had wanted to add a 'Cuda to the driveway for about the past seven years. While vacationing in Scottsdale, Arizona in February 2014 she saw an online advertisement at Brighton Motorsports. There was a Lemon Twist yellow AAR 'Cuda on their lot in Scottsdale. After looking at the car three times and getting all of the pertinent information on the full 2007 restoration and a report by Mopar numbers wizard Galen Govier, she made the purchase. A few months later and the 'Cuda was on its way to Winnipeg.
Originally a North Carolina vehicle it was restored to factory condition. The AAR 'Cuda features added extras like power steering, power front disc brakes, fog lamps, black vinyl interior with centre console, AM-FM radio with rear fender antenna, dual painted side view mirrors, Torqueflite automatic transmission, 3.55 ratio Sure-Grip rear axle, hood pins and rally wheels wrapped in B.F. Goodrich T/A radial tires with raised white lettering.
After a few minor adjustments and what seemed like a long wait for summer last year, Reyher was finally able to get the 'Cuda out to a few local shows. "The car is really a good driver and gets plenty of attention," said Reyher. In fact her AAR 'Cuda took the award for Best Plymouth in September 2014 at the Fabulous 50's Ford Club of Manitoba's Flashback Weekend car show at Garden City Shopping Centre.
For a closer look at Reyher's rare Plymouth check it out on Canada Day, Wednesday, July 1, at the Rainbow Stage parking lot in Kildonan Park when the Manitoba Mopar Association presents their annual Mopar and Friends Canada Day Show. Open to all makes and models of classic and special interest vehicles, this great show is always a huge hit with local car buffs. Registration opens at 10 a.m and the show runs to 4 p.m. Net proceeds from the event will be donated to the Movement Centre of Manitoba. For more information contact Paul at 204-853-7939 or visit www.mbmopar.com.