1970 Plymouth 'Cuda
Sales - Design/Build - Restoration
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So when this absolutely stunning 1970 Plymouth ‘Cuda showed up, we realized that someone had just moved “the top” and beating this one will be a tough job indeed.
Nicknamed “Conviction ‘Cuda,” this car was built for the 2008 SEMA show in Las Vegas and is a take-no-prisoners, cost-no-object build that has resulted in one of the most visually and technologically stunning pro-touring cars we’ve ever featured. With contributions from all the biggest names in the business, this is a professionally built car that will win every show in which it is entered, and drives like a modern machine. Just pulling it out of the trailer drew a crowd in the parking lot, as if the rhythmic sound of the exhaust was the Pied Piper or something. You could study this car for 8 hours a day for a whole month and not see all the detailing that went into the construction, and you might want to bring an expert to see how deep the craftsmanship reaches. No corners were cut, no shortcuts were taken, and this car stands at the pinnacle of the pro-touring movement today. This car even has its own website at www.convictioncuda.com. In short, if you want to get to the top of the mountain, this is the king you’re going to need to de-throne. Good luck with that.
First off, all of the body modifications—and there are many—have been done in steel. No fiberglass, no flexible stuff pulled from a mold, not even OEM pieces that have been adapted, just hand-formed steel. The first things I noticed were the subtle beads on the rear valence that mimic the rocker panel blisters. Then I saw how the rear spoiler had been molded into the fender, and the custom made hood with OEM-looking nostrils. Heck, we have photos of them laying out wooden blocks on the rear deck to create bucks for the spoiler fabrication. Look closer and you’ll see flush-mounted glass, shaved door handles and drip rails, and newly fabricated front and rear valence panels.
Of course, the basics are 100% ‘Cuda, starting with an original car and built from a bare steel shell. The car was stripped bare and every panel that wasn’t perfect was removed and replaced with an exact reproduction. New quarters were installed, but they weren’t installed stock—the side marker lights were shaved and the upper areas were adjusted to fit the giant tires. Of course, you’d need a stock ‘Cuda next to this one to see all the modifications, but the total of the work is a car that keeps everyone guessing and absolutely steals every show it enters.
Part of the show-stealing is certainly due to the paint job. Done in PPG Silver Star and Vibrants Purfect Purple with a lot of airbrush work, the car is visually arresting in person. You think you’ve seen show-quality paint? Guess again. If there’s a flaw in this paint job, I can’t find it. The finish is the result of hundreds of hours of bodywork, top-quality finishes, and another several hundred hours of wet sanding and buffing every square inch—hell, it even appears that the underside of the hood has been wet sanded and buffed. Then there’s the unique strobe stripe, which is paint, not a decal, and is a combination of air brush techniques and pinstriping that gives it an almost three-dimensional look that seems to be vibrating off the metal.
Out back, you’ve undoubtedly noticed the custom-made rear panel that houses custom taillights that look an awful lot like standard ‘Cuda items, but are actually hand-made LED lights that give it a modern look at night. Up front, Harley-Davidson twin-bulb modular headlights are brilliant in any sense of the word, and a custom grille insert has been created to mimic the original, but with turn-signal indicators molded into the grille itself. Brake cooling ducts have been integrated into the lower valence, while out back, diffuser ducts evacuate air from under the car and generate downforce at high speeds. Mirrors are from a Chrysler Crossfire, and, well, I’ll let you spend some time with the car and discover the rest. There’s just so much to see, we can’t possibly include it all here.
There was never any doubt when this project started that this car would be Hemi-powered. But that’s not a 50-year-old chunk of cast iron in the engine bay. No, a car of this caliber needs cutting-edge technology to go with the horsepower, so a modern 6.1-liter Hemi was selected instead. It’s an Arrington-built piece that cranks out more than 525 horsepower (that’s 100 horsepower more than the legendary 426 Hemis of yore), and does it in a smaller, lighter, and more user-friendly package. Forget tuning carburetors and fouled spark plugs, the only thing this car needs from you is someone to turn the key and press the red START button on the center console. Continuing the strobe stripe theme under the hood, you’ll find some custom covers for the radiator and coils that mimic the three-dimensional detailing on the body. The intake has been polished for a little bit of eye candy under the hood, while the wiring and plumbing has been carefully hidden for a super-sanitary look. Power steering and power brakes are definitely part of the equation, as is a high-output alternator to keep the car’s electronics happy.
Just as a carburetor would be out of place on the engine, a 4-speed just wouldn’t do underneath. Instead, there’s a Keisler 5-speed with overdrive that makes the most of the engine’s prodigious horsepower. Out back, a Chrysler 8.75-inch rear holds 3.91 gears on a limited slip. This will accelerate hard enough to break fingers, and can still climb to speeds once reserved for aircraft on the big end. The suspension features massive sway bars and cockpit-adjustable air shocks from Air Ride for a 21st century ride inside that vintage 1970 shape. Brakes are from Baer, and feature massive vented and cross-drilled rotors at all four corners. Those openings in the front fascia aren’t just for show, either—they actually feed the front brakes a steady supply of cool air. Long tube headers dump into a stainless steel X-pipe and Flowmaster mufflers before terminating in custom tips molded into the rear valence. The floors are undercoated because the original intent was to build a car to drive before things got, well, a little out-of-hand. The perfect hot-rod profile and stance is achieved by a set of polished 18- and 20-inch Bonspeed Quasar wheels on 245/40/18 front and 295/35/20 rear Nitto Invo tires.
Open the door and the first thing you’ll notice is that the graphics from the exterior continue into the doorjambs—always the sign of first-rate paint work. Then you’ll notice the Corvette bucket seats that have been custom upholstered with a mesh insert to really hold you in place. Door panels were specially fabricated for this car, and hold matching mesh inserts to really tie the whole interior together. A custom console was fabricated to resemble the original ‘Cuda piece, but it now features a carbon-fiber insert, controls for the Air Ride suspension, and a big, red START ENGINE button that brings the monster to life. A billet pistol grip shifter controls the 5-speed, a cool update on the original that looks exactly right in this 21st century interpretation of the Hemi ‘Cuda. The original dashboard has been reshaped and molded to hold a set of new Mopar Performance analog gauges. A leather-wrapped steering wheel with carbon-fiber accents sits atop a Flaming River column, and delivers razor-sharp feedback. In back, the rear bench has been reshaped to resemble the front buckets, and cool speed blisters with built-in speaker pods have been molded into the package shelf behind the headrests. An Alpine head unit is nestled up front, while massive Kicker speakers in their own custom enclosures in the trunk provide the support. Liberal use of Dynamat throughout the interior ensures that you’ll stay cool and comfortable behind the wheel of this amazing car.
On a build of this magnitude, you know there’s a ton of documentation. We have extensive build photos, drawings, sketches, and other development details that are seldom seen in the finished product—concept cars often go directly from the designer’s imagination to the show floor. You can see how this car evolved and the designer’s intent throughout the process, and it’s fascinating to compare it to the finished product. Build photos take you through every step of construction, from a bare shell to finished product on the stand at the 2008 SEMA show.
There’s no question this is a very special car and that its existence has moved the bar for top-line pro-touring customs. If you’re the sort of person who wants to own only the best, and understands that quality doesn’t compromise, then you’re already familiar with what this car has to offer. Stunning to look at, thrilling to drive, and exceptional to show, Conviction ‘Cuda is the current state-of-the-art in pro-touring. This is a car that will remain timeless thanks to smart design and immaculate craftsmanship, and in 20 years, it will still draw crowds like it does today—great cars are like that. It’s expensive, yes, but I’ll wager it cost even more to build and that there are no more than a handful of craftsmen in the country who could duplicate it. If you missed our last few pro-touring Mopars, you can count yourself lucky, because you now have the opportunity to own the best. Don’t miss it and call today.
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