B5 Beauty: A Cool Cruisin’ 1971 Plymouth ‘Cuda

When Stephen Poe decided to buy his 1971 Plymouth ‘Cuda, he decided not to overdo it like he had done with his previous car: a Hemi-powered 1967 Barracuda that was better equipped for the 1320 than local cruise nights. The ’67 was a fun car, but taking it out to local shows and general cruising was a bit of a chore. The dual-quad Elephant was finicky, and as you might guess, it didn’t sip fuel – it drank it in gulps.

That car was sold, and Stephen picked up a slightly newer model, wearing similar paint and powered by an even bigger (but less thirsty) 440 cubic inch Mopar mill. “I wanted something I could cruise in, the other car was fun to drive but it was too much for the street,” he told us.

Despite loving all cars, Stephen seems to have a deeper love for Mopar A-bodies, and when he saw this one he knew it was coming home. He said he just stumbled upon it, but that was all it took for him to make the decision.

One of the features of this car that made it more desirable was the fact that it was a frame off restoration, and as you can see the bottom of this car is just as nice as the top side. Of course, this means that it’s going to require extra care and cleaning, but Stephen doesn’t seem to be distracted by that considering what he brought home.

Under the hood, despite the soon-to-be-corrected billboard on the body side, resides Mopars biggest production V8 available: the 440 cubic inch big-block. It’s a stock build, with a few dress up components.  A set of Edelbrock Elite Series valve covers complement the matching air cleaner, and a smattering of anodized fittings and custom parts can be found here and there.

Then there’s the go fast goodies to add some pep. Sandwiched between the Edelbrock air cleaner and Torker intake manifold is a Proform street carburetor to fuel the beast. A set of Doug’s Headers gives the big-block the sound of a potent musclecar, and the TTi Exhaust keeps thing looking clean and tidy underneath.

As you might guess , having a big block and a few ponies under the hood, that power brake booster could use a little help when it comes to vacuum. The cam is pretty aggressive, and to put the power back into the brakes Stephen installed a Master Power Brakes‘ electric vacuum pump. This pump is so quiet it’s actually installed inside the car, near the steering column. Stephen says that after a couple minutes he is so used to the sound of the engine that he doesn’t hear the pump turning on and off.

To keep all 440 cubic inches cool, the ’71 Mopar relies on a Champion Cooling Systems all-aluminum radiator and a pair of electric cooling fans. That helps to keep the temperatures down on even the hottest Southern California day.

Champion Radiator Profile

Behind that Mopar big-block, you’ll find a factory four speed transmission, and a Dana 60 rearend. with 3.55 gears. With all of the restomods we’ve seen in the past few years, it’s pretty cool to see the old school Cragar SS wheels, and beefy meats wrapped around the rear 15-inch wheels.

The only cosmetic upgrade that he’s made to the ‘Cuda was a steel hood to replace the fiberglass hood. It does make it easier to show off the engine when the hood doesn’t have to be lifted off and placed on the roof of the car.

What Is The Difference Between Barracuda And ‘Cuda?

The Barracuda began as a trim package on the 1964 Valiant. In 1965, the Barracuda became it’s own model and continued on through two more variations. In 1969, a new package was added to the Barracuda: the ‘Cuda was an option that had specific engine choices; the 340, 383, and the 440 Super Commando V8.

The following year, the Barracuda was all new, and migrated from an A body to the E body, and along with this new car was also the previous year’s ‘Cuda option. The ‘Cuda was the sport option, only this time around the famed Elephant mill was also an option, maintaining the 340, 383, and 440 as other choices for 1970-1971. From 1972-1974, the ‘Cuda was also available with the 318, and the 360 in 1974, but the big blocks were no longer available, nor was the 426 Hemi.

The sport package typically included better suspension and braking systems, and included the rear valance exhaust cutouts, which were also available on some regular Barracudas. The bottom line here is that if it’s a ‘Cuda, it’s just a little more badass than the Barracuda.

Future Plans For The Cuda

If you’re checking the images closely, you might notice the Hemi billboard lettering, and the fact that the car has a 440, not a Hemi. It’s a bit of a sore spot, one that Stephen wants to correct as soon as possible. The car had a Hemi, but it was replaced with the 440 before Stephen bought it.

As for other upgrades, Stephen’s pretty happy with what he has for now, but he would like to install an EFI system – preferable a six-pack EFI. We hear that one of our friends has a system coming out soon, so you never know.

Stephen is a retired Fire Apparatus Technician, and at near 70 years old he’s certainly enjoying that retirement in classic musclecar style – one that has us a little envious. He tries to attend as many car shows and cruises as possible, enjoying every bit of his latest acquisition.

If you see a bright, B5 blue ‘Cuda cruising around the Laverne area here in Southern California, it just might be Stephen. You certainly can’t miss the bright B5 blue paint, so stop and say hello.

Written by Michael Harding

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