Since the earliest days of hot rodding, engine swaps have served as a means for sophisticated gearheads to continually satisfy their need for more speed, better performance and less weight. But rare is the masterpiece that can so seamlessly blend two completely different vehicles as this extraordinary 1971 Plymouth ‘Cuda drop-top. You see, that classic Mopar body is merely an attractive illusion as, underneath its surface, a 1995 Dodge Viper is coiled and ready to strike! Complete with a thundering 547 horsepower V10, a modern 6-speed transmission and a fully independent, track-ready suspension, this stunning Dodge, err, Plymouth is car number three of Time Machine’s well-known Six Shooter Viper ‘Cudas. If you’re looking for a truly exceptional, truly mind-boggling muscle car, you’ve definitely come to the right place!
Like most great cars, the idea for the Viper ‘Cuda was born from a unique combination of stress and innovation. After losing his pristine Hemicuda in a divorce, the future owner of Time Machines decided to take a spin in one of his good friend’s Dodge Vipers. While he was out enjoying Detroit’s brawniest badass, he began thinking how nice it’d be if his remaining asset, a ’71 Cuda project car, drove as well as a modern sports car. And the rest, as we say, is sweet, octane-fueled history! Starting with a clean, complete ’71 ‘Cuda convertible, Time Machine’s Hudson, Florida team gutted, stripped and removed their way through everything but this custom’s front subframe, rear rockers and factory radiator cradle. After the conversion, which we’ll talk more about in a few moments, every piece of the car’s body was refinished to show condition using a combination of original and high quality replacement sheetmetal. And finally, once that metal was primed and ready for art, a glossy silver basecoat was topped with a matte horizontal treatment, and eventually detailed with trick Viper billboards. If you’re going to build a car like this, there’s no point in keeping it subtle; and this incredible topless wonder will attract a TON of attention anywhere you go!
Thanks to its high dollar professional transformation, this Cuda’s crisp shut lines and spectacular panel alignment present much better today than when it rolled off Chrysler’s assembly line almost 42 years ago. At the front of the car a stainless-trimmed, 1971-exclusive ‘Cuda grille hangs four modern headlights above a color-keyed bumper, a factory front valence and clear, sculpted parking lamps. At the top of the car a slick, AAR-style hood leads the eye to like-new glass, fresh stainless trim, and a black cloth top. At the sides of the car, shaved mirrors and shaved door handles ride above correct silver fender louvers and shaved marker lights. And at the back of the car, a satin black valence hangs like-new tail lights between a ducktail decklid spoiler, a second color-keyed bumper and centered stainless exhaust tips.
The foundation for this killer build was a 20K mile 1995 Dodge Viper, which makes this Cuda’s current mileage of 31,906 accurate to its drivetrain. And naturally, every bit of that snake’s mechanical goodness made the transition 100% intact, with the Roe Racing supercharged V10 sending a dyno-proven 547 horsepower and a pavement-splitting 623 lb./ft. of torque to the car’s fat rear wheels. It’s virtually impossible to hurt one of these Viper engines as they are notoriously over-engineered and literally assembled for track time combat. And as a result, weekend warriors have been putting insane levels of boost through stock V10s for years without any difficulties what so ever. But wait, there’s more. Not only does the big mill perform well, it’s also highly aesthetically pleasing as the Time Machines team knew people would want to SEE the world’s largest muscle car engine. And with its monochromatic valve covers, black blower hardware and brushed aluminum Viper graphics, the 488 looks like it would be right at home under the hood of a half-million dollar Italian exotic. All the donor car’s original systems are intact and there’s no sign of dirt, neglect, or leakage. And why would there be? This heavyweight Detroit brawler was designed and built to the same high standards as any other modern production car. It suffers none of the temperamental idiosyncrasies of the overrated imports with which its original shell competed. When you turn the key, it cranks to life swiftly and easily. And when you hit the gas, it pulls like a freight train going up a mountain!
The interesting thing about Time Machines is the way they performed the Viper ‘Cuda conversions. Instead of a simple engine swap, or a pro-touring style adaptation, this ’71 ‘Cuda’s body is actually mated to its Viper donor chassis as one structure. That means the view from under a lift is all supercar, all the time! At the edges of the aerodynamic floors, a beefy chassis is complete with a Borg Warner T56 6-speed manual transmission and a Dana 44 limited slip differential that’s filled with stout 3.55 gears. The car’s frame has been reinforced to improve precision and address concerns about cowl shake, and the cast unequal length double A-arm suspension features revised geometry, updated coil overs and factory sway bars which make the Phase II Viper a little more user-friendly. Pound on the four wheel disc brakes and they’re more than up to the task of reeling in the engine’s 547 horses, lap after lap. Romp on the gas and the center-exit exhaust system I mentioned earlier utilizes a dual inlet Flowmaster muffler to create a much improved roar. Throw the car into the corner, and handsome 18 inch wheels spin 275/35 front Michelin Pilot Sport performance radials in front of 335/30 rear Michelin Pilot Sport performance radials.
As you probably already know, this Plymouth’s interior was the biggest challenge; but the car’s transformation from 5-passenger muscle to 2-passenger sport is pretty much seamless in appearance. And for the most part, the conversion itself was straightforward aside from engineering correct A-pillar alignment. That’s why Time Machines fabricated a special all-steel dashboard, which also happens to house the original Viper’s gauges and provide the right interior proportions to fit the original Viper’s seats. The transition between the car’s dash and door panels is especially well done, with big Sony Xplod speakers helping to blend Viper and ‘Cuda shapes until you can’t even see where one ends and the other begins. The car’s power window and power door lock switches were relocated to the console, and the original Viper’s stubby shifter protrudes just enough to make all the right shifts. Front and center, there’s just nothing like the power of an OEM climate control system, which delivers effective heat and air conditioning that no vintage or retrofit system could ever match. A fresh Sony CD player has been wired to eight more Sony Xplod speakers which are fitted in a rear cargo catch that completely eliminates the back seat, and provides a sleek top-down profile. And the trunk, which houses two Sony Xplod amplifiers behind two Optima gel cell batteries, has been completely upholstered to match the impressive interior.
The sale of this well-done Mopar includes a professional dyno sheet and a couple of pieces of component literature.
This awesome Viper ‘Cuda is an extremely impressive road warrior that’s been professionally engineered to exacting standards. It’ll run the tires off a stock Hemicuda, it handles like a modern sports car. And best of all, with OEM-grade mechanicals it has the ability to be serviced at any Chrysler dealership in the world. Pro-touring has never been this chic, and if you’re the kind of guy who wants something nobody else has, here’s your first class ticket to exclusivity!