When it comes to Trans-Am racing, the first car most people think of isn’t what you’re staring at right now. In fact, it’s usually a blue and yellow Chevrolet Camaro, which is of course one of the most highly celebrated Trans-Am cars of all time. If you think of a Mopar, a Challenger may come to mind before one of these. However, Dan Gurney and his cronies crafted three ‘Cudas–and this one is one of those three, and after some further research, this is a car with some technology that could rival the infamous Smokey Yunick.
This year, Amelia showed a cadre of Trans-Am race cars right at the back entrance, and this ‘Cuda absolutely stood out, looking like an oversized Hot WHeels car (especially with its requisite decals everywhere). Gurney acid-dipped the body to drop the curb weight for the track, and the roll cage was computer-designed to fit the E-body’s chassis, one of the first of its kind. When Chrysler did their pre-season promotional photography, this car was the beauty shot car and it did its job once again on the show field. Why, it even sports a Dan Gurney for President sticker on the back–certainly a cool touch.
Of particular note is the transmission on this race car–the casing is aluminum, but to pass tech, the casing was sprayed with a cast-iron filing to pass the magnet test and therefore pass the Trans-Am safety inspection. Driven by Dan Gurney and Swede Savage, this ‘Cuda was restored to full race-spec condition in 1982 for vintage motorsports. This is my first time ever seeing a Trans-Am ‘Cuda, after being in the presence of Henri Chemin’s Hemi Cuda (used in Europe against BMW 3.0CS and contemporary Porsches) and plenty of other ‘Cuda street cars. Enjoy the photos of this bad-ass Mopar legend.
-Albert S. Davis