Saturday, January 29, 2005

I ♥ Cuda

1970 Plymouth 'Cuda

Near the corner of Little West 12th and the West Side Highway—just blocks from my apartment—there is a large cold storage warehouse. It’s a nondescript location, with the exception of the trannie prostitutes who congregate after-hours in the adjacent parking lot. There’s no attempt to hide the hooking and petty drug sales. But there is an even more shocking blasphemy hiding behind an old green and red semi-trailer:

A faded and rusted 1973 Plymouth Cuda.

Confession: I’m a muscle car fanatic. (Ha! You thought I was going to say something else!) Like all fans, I have my druthers. Some guys like old Chevy Impalas, others swear by Pontiac GTOs. Not me: it’s all about MOPAR—Dodge, Plymouth and Chrysler. And my wet dream is the Cuda, one of the sexiest muscle cars ever built.

The Plymouth Barracuda was the first pony car, and debuted in ’64. It premiered two weeks before the Ford Mustang, which quickly left the Barracuda in the dust and became a pop icon. But the tables were turned in 1970 when the Barracuda was re-designed. Now called the ‘Cuda (yellow, above), it was available with an engine its competition could only dream of—the legendary Hemi.

1971 Plymouth 'Cuda

The Hemi sound is unmistakable. Many engines purr, or hum. Not the Hemi; it growls, like Vin Diesel in Pitch Black, or Bokeem Woodbine’s supa-sexy Brooklyn accent. In the early 70s, the oil crisis forced Chrysler to drop production of the Hemi . The muscle car era vanished. But a generation later, in 2003, Dodge re-introduced the Hemi with tremendous success. The new 2006 Charger can be ordered with an optional 340 HP Hemi. It's a solid car, but I prefer vintage Detroit steel.

Of all the 'Cudas, the standout is the ’71 (green, above). It’s larger than the previous year’s model—the front grill and headlights were restyled. Do you remember Phantasm? As a child, that’s how I stumbled across the car. The horror movie cult classic is less than memorable for cheesy acting, a flying killer orb, and a stunning black 1971 ‘Cuda. That car has sex appeal to burn. The chassis is long, sleek and muscular. The rear-end is taut and high. The car rides low, so at slow speeds it seems cocky. The styling is aggressive, yet seductive. Over-the-top, just how I like it.

I ♥ Cuda