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When the SCCA Trans-American Sedan Championship for Manufacturers Series (later known as the Trans-Am Series) was developed in 1966, it was expected that the manufacturers would race assembly line constructed cars that fit within the rules of the sanctioning body. However, what happened in the Trans-Am Series (similar to NHRA and NASCAR) was the manufacturers began constructing special made cars for race only applications to increase their odds of beating the competition. Due to this action of the manufacturers, the sanctioning body introduced new regulations for racing in their series. The result was the manufacturers were forced to build and sell a certain amount of cars to the public that were significantly similar to the race version just to satisfy the requirements of the Trans-Am Series. By 1970, the Chrysler brass was no longer content with Ford Mustangs and Chevrolet Camaros dominating the 5.0-liter class in the Trans-Am Series, so they was decided to bomb the class with a new offering from Plymouth as well as Dodge. The ruling of the sanctioning body was the reason the Plymouth ‘Cuda AAR, including the one covered in this commentary, and its sibling, the Dodge Challenger T/A, became a product available to the average Joe.
To ensure the ’70 Plymouth ‘Cuda was legal for the Trans-Am Series, a production run of 2500 units was necessary. To meet this need, the ‘Cuda AAR was produced from March 10th until April 17th of 1970; a loose production schedule that has been found to be over the years to be more of a guideline rather than a tight timeline. According to reports from AARchives, there were no AARs produced on March 10th despite being the first day of production. There were no AARs produced on March 25th through March 27th, and no AARs were produced on March 30th. Lastly, at least one AAR was produced on April 20th after the end of the official run. An official total of 2,724 AARs were produced with 1,604 being equipped with a TorqueFlite transmission and 1,120 produced with an A-833 4-speed transmission. Chrysler Trans-Am Series team manager, Pete Hutchinson, hired Keith Black to build the engines and Dan Gurney’s company, All-American Racers, to build the ‘Cuda AARs. The series required a factory block, factory heads, and a displacement no larger than 5.0L (305 cid) with a single four barrel carburetor. The legal engine for the series was a destroked 340 cid coupled with a pair of new factory cast iron heads with angled intake pushrods and offset intake rocker arms to accommodate the larger intake ports. Additional requirements to be legal for the series required that the race version of the ‘Cuda retain the same body dimensions and appearance as the production version. That meant the street version of the ‘Cuda received a hood scoop and front and rear spoilers so the race version could benefit from these components at the track. The street version of the ‘Cuda had the same block and heads as the race version but the engine displacement was 340 cid and the engine would benefit from the carburetion of three Holley two-barrels placed upon an Edelbrock intake manifold. To guarantee the street version had a racy look and sound, a low-restriction, side-dump exhaust was installed, which helped the 340 produce 290 horsepower at 5000 RPM and 335 lb/ft of torque at 3400 RPM.