Last year I built the wonderful ’70 Plymouth ‘Cuda by Revell, and it was and still is arguably one of the best they put out. I know, I say this often but just think of it like this – they set a bar and consistently reach it with more and more releases, this one included. And yet again I find myself thinking “Damn, if only I could’ve done it differently”.
Then I realize, oh hey, eBay exists! And Keith Marks exists! And I got loads of spare parts to make what I wanted to do for a while now actually happen! The ’70 ‘Cuda release actually isn’t even all that old, hailing back from 2013 as a totally new tool with the 426 HEMI engine, which incidentally is also a new tool and not taken from the Charger kits. And the thing allows for two different builds by itself, the good ol’ 426 HEMI powered ‘Cuda with the roaring and rumbling shaker hood and this sleek all-body-color AAR-ish ‘Cuda with giant rims and such with the ram-air hood.
I built the 426 HEMI in apple green and left it for what it was, nothing extra about it. Since then I’ve been pining to make it a soft-top 440-6 cubic inch equipped zinc yellow(or “lemon twist” if you wanna go by brochure names) ‘Cuda that I once saw at a car show in Germany. I also had the awesome opportunity since to work on a 1973 ‘Cuda since then, with the very same 440 Six Barrel engine underneath so it’s only been growing on me to get started on this kit. Sadly, the kit only comes with the HEMI engine for either option, the only part dedicated to something different is two different air cleaners.
So I wanted to make it a proper six barreled 440, I had a set of 440 R/T engine blocks from 1968 and 1969 Charger kits and some spare bits from the 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T kit that came with a Six Pack engine but then it struck me… Shit, that was a small block 340 cubic inch V8 with the Six Pack carbs on top(and at most a 383 Magnum, still nowhere near the 440). I at this point had a choice; buy a 1970 Dodge Coronet kit from MPC/AMT Ertl just to grab the engine or go down the same route that I did with the 1969 Camaro SS 396 and just roll with the in-box engine(HEMI in this case) and just make it look on the outside that its a 440-6. I uh, I did the latter.
But despite it having the wrong engine for what I wanted, I figured I was gonna use the extra customizability of the vehicle and not glue the air cleaner stuck to the model cause the ‘Cuda 440 also had the choice of a Shaker or a simple air-cleaner. Instead I was gonna glue the carburetors to their cleaners and be able to swap on the fly if I so desired. The kit definitely allows this and thank God for it cause making my mind up was hard, I love the shaker hoods on the early seventies Chrysler cars and the twin ram-air hood is fancy and all but nothing beats the brutal look of a loose shaker on a engine poking through. Hell, shakers are loved so much that it even saw a comeback on the modern Challenger as a popular aftermarket part. But, since the hood for the Shaker was warped some, for the sake of pictures and looking cleaner, I for now got the ram air hood on there.
Thanks to Keith Marks, I got my hands on the final piece that allows this kit to be a 440-6 instead of a HEMI on the outside at least: the iconic hockey stick stripes. Handily, the decal sheet also covers higher quality side marker lights, logos and so forth but the 440 decal is what completes the picture. And it helps to have some spare air cleaner decals for the future!
I also took the wing from a spare ’71 Cuda kit I had sitting around(though the scale is one step larger and is a bit… too big but it matches) and the wheels from the ’69 Charger Daytona kit. I am a huge fan of Magnum 500’s and boy do I hate the standard Chrysler wheels from the seventies, they are the definition of boring for me but luckily I had spares lying around. I felt the same way when I made the ’71 GTX kit and applied the Magnum 500’s, it made the car look a hell of a lot sportier, same with the ’71 Cuda kit though that one I messed up fiercely paint-wise. Ah well… I also applied the same wheel treatment as I’ve done to nearly any model kit these days and attached some Road Hugger Radial G/T tire decals courtesy of Fireball Modelworks to give ’em some personality.
One thing, or two things I did mess up was my first attempt at getting a vinyl top using the painters tape/masking tape method, which is simply layering the roof with masking tape, cutting away the extra and painting over it with satin black paint. There’s advanced methods to this but I already screwed up the most basic way so I figured, y’know what, it doesn’t look horrible, I’ll roll with what I got.
Gotta say, the ’70 ‘Cuda kit might be one of my favorites. It’s got loads of customization options, it looks utterly fantastic, has the beautifully gargantuan 426 HEMI engine and well, I might be somewhat biased due to the 1970 and 1971 ‘Cudas being my favorite car, bar none. I adore Camaros and Mustangs, but none came close to the ‘Cuda, especially once it moved away from the Plymouth Valiant platform. Sadly, the car was ‘too good‘ for its own good in real life, being too expensive to compete with the cheaper Camaro, Firebird and Mustang and coming in too late to deal with the already very established brand names.
And then of course, the 1973 fuel crisis nailed that coffin shut and the ‘Cuda name was put to rest forever along with the E-body Challenger in 1974. Luckily, this kit keeps some of the legacy of one of the most badass and impressive muscle cars in history very much alive.
’70 Plymouth ‘Cuda 440-6 specifications:
Skill Level: 3
Molded in: White