There’s no such thing as putting a ’70 AAR ‘Cuda exactly where you want it. The road may wind and traffic may swarm, but it makes no difference. The ‘Cuda isn’t interested in such things, for they require finesse. Finesse asked the ‘Cuda out to dinner once, but the ‘Cuda stood it up to go drink beer under an overpass with your hot little sister. As far as this car is concerned, finesse can go stuff itself.
You learn this when you try to get on the throttle in a straight line, hit a pothole, and suddenly find yourself in the next lane. You learn it as you watch the pinned-down, blacked-out hood bob and weave over perfectly smooth pavement. You grab a fistful of the pistol grip Hurst shifter, hold on, and just accept that the ‘Cuda is going to go wherever it wants.
It gets better. The 3500-pound Plymouth’s overboosted brakes don’t really stop it, and the recirculating-ball steering reacts about three days after you tell it what you want. The “heavy-duty” suspension has all the poise and composure of a rhino on crack. Until you stand on the throttle, all you get is noise and violence. After you stand on it, there’s even more noise and violence, but the difference now is that your head explodes. Suddenly, in spite of its endless faults, the ‘Cuda is brilliant. It’s a missile with no guidance system. It’s riding a shopping cart down Pikes Peak. It’s an absurd lack of control and an artificial speed rush and a silly kind of drug all at once.
Built by Chrysler in response to the Chevrolet Camaro Z28s and Ford Boss 302 Mustangs that were racing in the SCCA’s Trans-Am series, the AAR ‘Cuda eschewed creature comforts and visual subtlety in the name of becoming a homologation special. AAR stood for Dan Gurney’s All-American Racers team, and although true road-racing success ultimately was outside the ‘Cuda’s grasp, the production car remained a heady street weapon.
All told, some 2724 examples of the AAR ‘Cuda rolled off the assembly lines for 1970. A Sure-Grip differential, a 290-hp small-block V-8, and a fiberglass hood were among the standard equipment. Although the ‘Cuda does little well except make lots of noise-it’s not even remarkably fast-the charm lies in its presentation. That, and in reining in your cackling laughter as you bomb down the road.