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Deuces Wild: The 1970 Dodge Challenger T/A and the 1970 Plymouth AAR ‘Cuda

In this edition of Muscle Car Milestones, we’ll take a look at the 1970 Dodge Challenger T/A and 1970 Plymouth AAR ‘Cuda. The Sports Car Club of America’s Trans Am Series racing was extremely competitive during 1970. The Big Three, as well as American Motors, had a factory-backed racecar in the series. SCCA homologation rules dictate that in order to race in the series, production versions of the racers have to be produced. This homologation is what gave birth to the 1970 Dodge Challenger T/A and the 1970 Plymouth AAR ‘Cuda.

1970 Dodge Challenger T/A

The 1970 Dodge Challenger T/A features a 340 cubic-inch Six Pack engine conservatively rated at 290 horsepower and 345 lb.-ft. of torque. This powerplant is equipped with three Holley 2300 two-barrel carburetors resting atop an Edelbrock manifold.

The Challenger T/A comes with an arsenal of standard equipment needed for track duty. Power front disc brakes with semi-metallic pads and 11-inch drums in back provided plenty of stopping power. A Rallye suspension includes front and rear anti-roll bars. An 8 3/4 rear differential with 3.55 gears and Sure Grip limited slip channeled the T/A’s horsepower to the street. The Challenger T/A was also one of the first cars to feature larger wheels and tires out back. E60 x 15-inch wheels up front and G60 x 15-inch wheels in back with Goodyear Polyglas GT tires keep this track star firmly planted to the road. Drivers had the option of a TorqueFlite three-speed automatic or an A833 four-speed close-ratio manual transmission.

The Challenger T/A is unmistakable with its menacing hood scoop, matte-black fiberglass hood, and side-exit dual exhaust. The T/A also features a black rear spoiler, black side stripes with T/A lettering, and a pop-open fuel filler cap. Optional equipment that drivers could check off on the option list include a front chin spoiler, quick-ratio power steering, and Rallye wheels.

Inside, the Challenger T/A is all business. Since the interior is based on the Challenger Highline model, it was fairly pedestrian. Ordering the optional Rallye dashboard, center console, and AM radio helped spiff up the inside quite nicely.

The Challenger T/A could run from 0 to 60 in six seconds and sprint the quarter in the 14-second range. In comparison, the Ford Boss 302 scored a quarter mile time of 16 seconds and the Camaro Z/28 recorded a quarter mile time of 14.2 seconds.

1970 Plymouth AAR ‘Cuda

The Plymouth AAR ‘Cuda got its name from Dan Gurney’s All American Racers. These were produced during a five-week time span that ran from March to April 1970. And just like its Dodge sibling, it received a 290 horsepower 340 cubic-inch V8 with triple Holley carburetors sitting atop an Edelbrock-sourced manifold. It also featured 3.55 gearing, side-exit exhaust, and an upgraded suspension made up of a heavy-duty torsion bar, larger sway bars, and special shocks. The AAR ‘Cuda also received 24:1 manual steering, power front disc brakes, and 11-inch rear drum brakes.

The AAR ‘Cuda’s exterior featured strobe striping with the AAR logo, a black fiberglass hood with hood scoop, and a rear duck tail spoiler. The AAR ‘Cuda also featured a blacked-out grille, 15-inch wheels, and a left-side, body-color mirror. The AAR ‘Cuda could be had in several High Impact colors that included Vitamin C Orange, Tor-Red, In-Violet Metallic, and Moulon Rouge.

Car and Driver tested the AAR ‘Cuda for their July 1970 issue. They applauded the AAR ‘Cuda’s quarter mile time in the 14 second range and were happy with the car’s stopping power. However, the editorial team was less than enthused with the ‘Cuda’s build quality and track performance due to the racer’s 56/44 percent weight distribution. Per Car and Driver, the AAR ‘Cuda was “made up of basically good hardware and forms a basically good package— unhappily rather shabby in detail and assembly. If the Burbank Blue Bomb­ers can just get after those details, they might have themselves a really good street-rod”.

The highest optioned AAR ‘Cuda known to exist crossed the auction block at Mecum’s Kissimmee 2017 auction. This example featured a black vinyl roof, body-color Elastomeric bumpers and mirrors, and rear window louvers. Inside this ‘Cuda you’ll find a Rallye instrument cluster, center console, AM/FM radio with 8-track player, and power steering. This Rallye Red coupe has been owned by some of the planet’s most renowned Mopar collectors, including Otis Chandler and Tim Wellborn. As you might expect, an AAR ‘Cuda of this caliber also commands a premium price. The winning bidder took this ‘Cuda home after shelling out a whopping $195,000.

Just the Numbers

Even though actual production numbers are unknown, it’s been approximated that 2,399 Dodge Challenger T/As were built and 2,724 Plymouth AAR ‘Cudas rolled off the assembly line.

The 1970 Dodge Challenger T/A and 1970 Plymouth AAR ‘Cuda faced some stiff competition in Trans Am racing. At the end of the season, the Dodge Challenger T/A and Plymouth AAR ‘Cuda finished fourth and fifth respectively in the standings.

1970 was a year known for one hit wonders. The rock band Free scored their sole hit “All Right Now” in October and Mountain peaked at number twenty-one with “Mississippi Queen”. The 1970 Dodge Challenger T/A and the 1970 Plymouth AAR ‘Cuda could also be looked at as one hit wonders. After their last place finishes in Trans Am series racing, 1970 turned out to be this pair’s swan song. The good news is that due to their minimal production numbers and overall collectability, they will be coveted by collectors for many years to come.

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