What Is a 1970 AAR ’Cuda, and Why Do I Want One in My Driveway?

With race-bred styling and a cool backstory, this Mopar has what it takes to make this Chevy guy change teams.

Time to kick down that annoying fourth wall and go a little first-person—recently we were working on some Mecum auction stuff, and I was asked by another editor what car I would want under my proverbial Christmas tree. Now, I used to run Super Chevy, and although my car choices would lead people to believe that I’m a die-hard Chevy guy, the truth is that I like cars in general, even if I do get pulled into the Chevy gravity well most of the time. After browsing the Kissimmee, Florida, Mecum listings, I found the car I would want: a 1970 AAR Plymouth Barracuda! A Mopar!? Yeah, but not just any Mopar.

How Many E-bodies Were Built in 1970?

Before we look specifically at the AAR variant, we should get an idea about how special the 1970 Mopar lineup was. Many consider 1970 to be the high-water mark for E-bodies, and in terms of sales, it certainly was. Chrysler was hoping to sell nearly a quarter-million E-bodies that year, and although it didn’t hit that number, the company did sell a ton of cars, with 55,499 Barracudas and 83,032 Challengers leaving the factory. The Plymouth Barracuda (shortened to ‘Cuda by the cool kids), like the Challenger, offered three lines, as well as three body styles: the base coupe, a hardtop, and a convertible. A whopping nine engine options were on the menu, ranging from the base 145-hp slant-six to the iconic 455-hp 426 Hemi V-8.

What Is an AAR Cuda?

Anyone who knows me would tell you that I’m into the whole pro-touring deal, so that might be why the AAR ‘Cuda flips my switches. The AAR ‘Cuda joined the Plymouth family in March of 1970, and was a tribute to Dan Gurney’s All American Racers (AAR) Barracudas being run in the SCCA Trans Am series. The track version the team fielded was powered by a 440-hp 305-inch V-8 topped with a lone four-barrel carb; the “civilian” AAR ‘Cuda was built to approve (homologate, in fancy talk) the small-block engine for SCCA racing use. Only 2,724 AAR ‘Cudas were built in 1970 at the Hamtramck, Michigan, plant. The AAR was only produced for one year, making it a fairly rare piece of automotive and racing history.

What Engine Was in the AAR Cuda?

The street version of the AAR ‘Cuda got a 340-inch (4.04-inch bore / 3.31-inch stroke) iron-block V-8 with iron heads, solid lifters, and three two-barrel Holley carburetors sitting on an Edelbrock aluminum intake. The 340 Six-Barrel was rated at 290 hp at 5,000 rpm and 350 lb-ft of torque at 2,800. Not the most powerful offering, but no slouch either.

What Else Made the AAR ‘Cuda Different?

Though the interior was fairly standard, the exterior was anything but. It was offered in many of the “high-impact” colors of the day, and given a racy look with a functional matte black fresh-air fiberglass hood and distinctive strobe-stripes that incorporated the tri-color AAR shield logo. The trunklid received a unique black “ducktail” spoiler, and the rear of the ‘Cuda was raised nearly two inches to allow for the side-exit exhaust.

Related:1970 ‘Cuda Returned to the Track after 30 Years in Storage

The AAR had special stocks and rolled on Goodyear Polyglas GT 60 15-inch tires in the rear and E60 15-inch tires in the front. This gave the 1970 AAR ‘Cuda the distinction of being the first Detroit production car with staggered wheel-sizes. 1,120 were equipped with the A-833 four-speed manual trans, and 1,603 had the three-speed A727 TorqueFlite automatic. You know which one we prefer.

The car I put on my wish list, Lot R191, is red-on-red, has been fully restored, and is being offered a the Kissimmee, Florida, event as part of the Lindley collection. Yeah, it’s numbers-matching, but more important is the four-speed trans option. As a fan of pro-touring cars this to me is the pro-touring factory car of the day, and it just looks like a car that says, “Come on, drive me—preferably in anger!” So, if you’re thinking about what to get me as a small token of appreciation, then click on over to Mecum and register for your bidder’s card. I’ve been good. Well, mostly.

1970 AAR ‘Cuda Specifications: