The Plymouth Hemicuda is my favorite car from the Muscle Car era, bar none. It has the perfect engine, Chrysler’s 426ci Hemi V8, the perfect gearbox, a manual with a pistol-grip shifter, and it is the perfect color, bright middle finger green.
The Hemicuda has the brash audacity that I look for in a muscle car. It speaks loudly and carries a big stick. Too many muscle cars were soft-spoken “sleepers,” which is cool in some ways, but I much prefer the blunt honesty of the ‘Cuda. It doesn’t beat around the bush with petty small talk, it just says “Get the hell out the way!”
I’m generally a non-partisan guy when it comes to automotive brand loyalty, but I must admit that Mopars are my favorite of the old-school muscle cars. They had a fantastic lineup of engines, of which the Hemi was king. But even past that, Chrysler cars just had that flavor that embodied the very spirit of the American Muscle car. The Plymouth ‘Cuda is the crown jewel for me, but I always love me a Road Runner, a Charger, a Challenger, etc too.
Seeing a ‘Cuda like this turns me into a little kid every time, and this one was absolutely ideal. We saw it at the Concours of America, just outside of Detroit, MI. Naturally the Motor City area has the cream of the muscle car crop, and I have yet to be disappointed when visiting.
Feast your eyes on the king of Plymouth stock cars. Back in 1970, Plymouth was racing in NASCAR, and the Dodge Charger Daytona was winning big the previous season. Of course, they wanted in on all the fun, and the top brass was only more than happy to oblige, gifting them the Superbird. The nose cone, massive rear wing, and flush rear window all contributed to a massive aerodynamic advantage at the time–allowing these cars to break to nearly 200 MPH on the oval tracks of the day when equipped with the 426 Hemi. They were so dominant that NASCAR got sick of seeing Mother Mopar basically destroy everybody every Sunday afternoon, so 1971 brought in a rule change that forced Plymouth and Dodge to either ditch the aero body or ditch the Hemi–effectively dumping cold water on the party. Continue reading 1970 Plymouth Superbird at the 2015 Concours of America at St John’s→
Fred Williams is absolutely nuts. First, he revives old Jeeps that have been sitting for more years than I’ve been in school. Then, he goes and gets a derelict, neglected old Road Runner, and goes crazy. He’s starting a build which will make Chrysler junkies like me want to pull my graying hair out. This will have a turbocharged Cummins V8, 4WD, and massive mud tires. I’m amused and intrigued.
If there’s one thing I do not see at all among any Concours event I attend it is pre-war Plymouths. They aren’t hugely collectible, not very distinctive, and really weren’t a high-class sort of car during the Depression. However, they were cheap and reliable, and often more stylish then at first glance. Luckily, this little roadster got itself a spot at Radnor last weekend. Continue reading 1932 Plymouth P8 Sport Roadster at the 2015 Radnor Hunt Concours→
Until last month, I’d never been to Detroit. Nick kept telling me as we got closer and closer to the Motor City that the cruise-in scene on weekend nights was absolutely my sort of thing, and I was stoked. Of course, Mother Nature had other ideas. After Nick, Shane, and I got drenched in a freak thunderstorm that gave us the best rainbow I’d seen in a decade, I looked around at the cars that did manage to show up–and I wasn’t disappointed. Continue reading Royal Oak Shell Cruise-In, July 25, 2015.→
My weekend of car shows in Middlesex County, NJ did not stop with the Elks Lodge show. I had been invited to attend the Vipers and Exotics for Victoria show at the local Quaker Steak and Lube down in Edison, NJ by my friend Schen–who was helping to run the event. Schen’s a huge Viper and Mopar fan and I was more than happy to attend and take some pictures. This was a charity event for the daughter of the restaurant’s regional manager, who has a brain disease that needs immediate treatment. All of the entry fees at the show went towards treatment for Victoria.
The people who I met on Sunday were incredible–the show was run tightly and felt very organized. A great contingency of Mopar faithful showed up in late-model Chargers and Challengers, while the Viper club sent along a few people too. Two particularly loud representatives of muscle past and present showed up too–a Shelby Cobra continuation car turned up, shortly after a McLaren-Mercedes SLR roared into the parking lot and set of every car alarm on the way out. All in all, it was a very enjoyable Sunday morning. Enjoy the photos. Continue reading Favorites from Vipers and Exotics for Victoria in Edison, NJ→
This past Saturday, I was in a conundrum. I knew that the local Elks Lodge up the street was putting on a car show, but I wasn’t sure if they’d let me put my Miata in the show. I decided to just drive it over and see what would happen. I was the first guy to show up in an imported car (there was already a Toyota Truck in the show) but they let me in for a few bucks and I gladly obliged, hiding the Miata, in all its scratched-up, four-cylinder glory, in between a few Corvettes. For my efforts, I was rewarded third in class for import cars–which came with a nice $25 gift certificate to the local Italian establishment, Mama Rosina’s.
In all, this was a very well-done show. While the variety of cars was a bit limited, the people made this a very friendly, neighborhood-type show, with people from all over the local area coming out to show off their best cars. We had everything from a 1956 Bel Air (that was all original and awaiting restoration) to a late-model Maserati GranTurismo, C7 Stingray, and a 2014 Super Snake that shook the ground on startup. Enjoy the photos from Riverside Park in Piscataway, New Jersey. Continue reading 2015 Elks Lodge Car Show (Lodge 2414) General Gallery→
When it comes to the Plymouth Road Runner, it’s hard for me to ignore even the ones that don’t look very loud–because the plain-Jane appearance of the ones that look quiet disguises the screamer that lies underneath the skin. The case of this triple-black ’69 model is a study in that field, as it packs the monster motor that muscle cars like me lust after–the 426 Hemi.
Plymouth had a hit on its hands with the Road Runner. It was rather inexpensive for its time (starting at around 3 grand, a low price for a muscle car) but offered the 426 as an option for those with the wallet and the guts to handle what Mopar guys have referred to as the “Elephant Motor”. This particular car was found as a race car and restored back to stock specifications. Not only that, but it won its class at Boca and looked pretty intimidating in the process. Enjoy the photos of this 4-speed equipped Hemi Road Runnner, one of only 234 two-door sedans equipped that way. Continue reading 1969 Plymouth Hemi Roadrunner at the 2015 Boca Raton Concours→
Just because we feature a car here on Mind Over Motor doesn’t mean its fifteen minutes of fame should end. A year and a half ago, a 1970 Plymouth Hemi ‘Cuda with Chrysler badges was making its first-ever appearance at the Greenwich Concours, and took home the Chief Judge’s Award last year on its debut. Fast-forward a year, and the ‘Cuda was back in action, after spending a bit of time in France–the country where it made history.
This is not a normal Hemi ‘Cuda. Most of them are designed to look good and race along Main Street between Maple Avenue and Pine Street against a Chevelle SS-454 (and win). This one fought for space alongside Porsche 911 racers and BMW 3.0 CSLs all over France–one of just four E-body Chryslers to ever do so. Nowadays, it’s retired, but it spent time in France on some of its old tracks during the past year or so. I can only imagine the sound of that thundering big-block V8 ricocheting across the French countryside, both getting everyone’s attention and ticking off the locals, who probably would rather not see such a brash American messing around their French roads. I personally wish that it happen more often. Enjoy the photos. Continue reading 1970 Hemi ‘Cuda at Hershey and the Quail→
When it comes to homologation specials, Plymouth is not the first name that should pop into anyone’s head. However, when all three major American automakers, plus American Motors, were participants in the Trans-Am racing circuit, they all had to produce something to homologate the engine and the body of the car they chose to race. In the case of the Plymouth ‘Cuda, the AAR ended up being the car to take that burden. Unfortunately, not that many were sold in this era of big engines, big personalities, and bigger insurance policies. Only 2,724 were produced and sold in 1970, and they all had a few things in common. All of them sported a flat-black finished hood, black strobe stripes (white was available) down the sides, chrome in the grille, and a set of mean looking side pipes. Side spoilers on the front bumper and a duck tail spoiler rounded out the trim. The look was loud and mean–just the right look for the Plymouth “Rapid Transit System.”
What wasn’t visible to the naked eye, however, was a screaming Chrysler L.A. small block V8 sporting 340 cubic inches of anger, topped off with three deuces–that’s three Holley two-barrel carburetors, for those of you that are not initiated. A four-speed manual was standard, while the three-speed A727 TorqueFlite automatic was an extra-cost option. With better handling than the standard ‘Cuda, the AAR was a corner-carver in a time of straight-line performance–a true rarity coming from an American automaker of the time. This particular car sports a bright paint job (appropriately deemed Vitamin C Orange) with a black interior and the all-important four-speed manual transmission. Everyone knows about the Hemi ‘Cuda. More people need to know about its wild sister. Enjoy the photos from River Edge. Continue reading 1970 Plymouth AAR ‘Cuda at the 2014 River Edge Car Show→