A TEENAGED DRIVING DREAM COMES TRUE BEHIND THE WHEEL OF A 1970 ‘CUDA 440

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Don McLean wrote one of the most famous adolescent angst lines when he penned ‘American Pie’ and included “I was a lonely teenage broncin’ buck with a pink carnation and a pickup truck” in the song’s long set of lyrics.

The fact that I was too young for a driver’s license when the ‘Cuda hit the Plymouth showrooms was secondary to the fact the car was way out of my league, not unlike the entire cheerleading squad at my high school in 1970.

A 1970 ‘Cuda 440 was the kind of car that might have helped me date cheerleaders back in my high school days, even though the car angle was likely balanced out by the fact I had limited social skills and could have taught advanced introvert classes during the early 1970s.   

Consequently, I will never know whether a 1970 Cuda would have enough to move me up the high school food chain during the early Seventies, but I never stopped thinking about the car itself.

Many decades have passed since the 1970 Barracuda debuted in any form, including the street monster 440 model, but I still loved the car, despite the passage of time.

My younger brother Don was still in the early stages of grade school when the ‘70 Cuda hit the streets in the early 1970s. Nevertheless, he was bowled over by the third-gen Barracuda because of its remarkable style so the iconic E-body ‘Cuda also made a huge impression upon him over the years.

Don was able to fulfill his dream of ownership in late 2023 when he bought an immaculate 1970 ‘Cuda 440 from a local car collector who had a reputation for owning only the best in Mopars. The former owner realized Don would really look after the car and was not a flipper. He was correct on both assumptions.

What Don bought was a fully restored 1970 ‘Cuda 440 that is better than factory because of the high quality of restoration. The ‘Cuda is also better than factory because it has a friskier cam and a shift kit.

The net result is a car that is nothing short of brute force power in one of the coolest pony car designs ever built by Mother Mopar. The ‘Cuda retains its original 440 big block coupled to Chrysler’s famous 3-speed Torqueflite automatic transmission-only both are now capable of optimum performance on the road.

The brief history of Don’s 1970 ‘Cuda 440 brings me to a personal achievement because I was finally able to get behind the wheel of this magnificent beast of a car and take it out for a sprint.

The first thing I noticed was the Cuda’s ability to go from 0 to a traffic court appearance in the blink of an eye. The car was fast and furious beyond the shadow a doubt. In fact, it shot out a cloud of black dust from the rear tires every time it shifted into second and woke up the dead with its incredible exhaust music.

A 1970 Cuda 440 is a brutally honest machine built to conquer the street and track during its heyday. It was fast enough to justify my high school infatuation with these muscular Mopar pony cars, and plenty fast enough to make me happy I didn’t get to own one back in the day when common sense was a very rare commodity in my teenaged world.

BY: Jim Sutherland

Jim Sutherland is a veteran automotive writer whose work has been published by many major print and online publications. The list includes Calgary Herald, The Truth About Cars, Red Deer Advocate, RPM Magazine, Edmonton Journal, Montreal Gazette, Windsor Star, Vancouver Province, and Post Media Wheels Section. 

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