Following its rediscovery after decades in storage, the 1970 Plymouth ‘Cuda 440 Rapid Transit concept sold for $2.2 million at Mecum’s 2023 Indianapolis auction.
The customized ‘Cuda is one of four show cars built for the Rapid Transit System Caravan, an extension of an ad campaign of the same name that toured auto shows and car dealerships in 1970 and 1971 promoting Plymouth’s muscle cars. Along with the ‘Cuda, the Caravan included customized versions of the Plymouth Duster and Road Runner, plus drag-racing star Don Prudhomme’s Plymouth funny car.
Based on the second-generation Plymouth Barracuda that debuted for the 1970 model year (performance models had the name shortened to ‘Cuda), the Rapid Transit Caravan show car got a paint scheme by Hot Wheels artist Harry Bradley, with custom bodywork by Chuck Miller, a Detroit-based car builder who had previously won the prestigious Ridler Award in 1968 and built a life-size version of the then-famous Red Baron hot rod model kit.
For the Plymouth, Miller added mud flaps and created a new nose and a new front pan with split spoilers—all made from steel. Other modifications included low-mounted driving lights, custom taillights, side pipes, a fake parachute, wheelie bars, and Cragar wheels with wider tires in back.
An early-build example, the ‘Cuda Rapid Transit is powered by a 440-cubic-inch V-8, which is believed to be the factory engine, and it inhales through a Shaker hood scoop.
Following the conclusion of its promotional duties, the show car fell off the radar. It’s thought to have gone into storage in 1976, and didn’t emerge until earlier this year. The auction listing said it was in mostly original condition, with 976 miles on the odometer and the original paint. That explains the $2.2 million hammer price, which is a lot even for a ‘Cuda. Then again, it is part of Mopar history.
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