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Ask any Mopar fanatic what were some of the best possible options bestowed on a Plymouth or Dodge during the heyday of factory muscle cars and you will be pummeled with a multitude of juicy choices. Engine selections like the legendary 426 Hemi or the potent 440 six-pack wedge motor would probably be tops on that list for many of the fans, as well as options like the Track Pak, Super Track Pak and the durable A-833 four-speed transmission that helped Mopars put power to the pavement.
However, the top choices of many weren’t just mechanical. Aesthetic selections, like the multitude of wings and stripe packages to adorn the exterior of your ride with would also rate high. That's not to mention the assortment of High Impact colors that Mother Mopar featured to help amplify her cars already mighty presence in public. These in-your-face visual style accoutrements were commonplace on muscle rides and in high demand back in the day.
However, there was another option, though limited to the ’70 and ’71 model years, on the E-body platform that has hit a home run in the hearts of present-day Mopar fans and hobbyists across the globe. Both mechanical and stylish, this add-on covered all the bases for the perfect street machine must-have. Yes, it’s that air-breathing protrusion bulging through the hood on your favorite ‘Cuda or Challenger...the famed Shaker Hood.
The Shaker Hood option, denoted by an N96 on the fender tag, has become a huge selling point for E-bodies over the years, so much so that several aftermarket kits have been available to turn a standard flat hood into a clone of the original N96 option. Needless to say, these kits are quite popular with loyal Mopar restorers and brand followers. However, if your car was born with this sporty add-on, it has been blessed with a strong selling point that raises the car’s value to Mopar consumers exponentially for the last five decades.
When Mopar collector Steve Siegel was in the market for an eye-grabbing E-body, he was lucky enough to find a restorable In-Violet 1970 Plymouth ‘Cuda built with the rare 340 cubic inch small block and the N96 Shaker hood combination from the factory.
Steve Siegel is no newbie to the automotive scene. The muscle car aficionado spent some of his formative years as a tech editor for a major Mopar magazine and has continued to pursue top-notch Mopar collectibles as well as other rare muscle rides throughout the following years. Collector grade cars that have passed through Siegel’s hands over the last four decades include several 1969 to 1971 426 Hemi-powered Dodge Chargers, as well as a handful of notable ‘Cudas. These E-bodies include a real, documented, 1971 Hemi ‘Cuda convertible (FY1 Lemon Twist with white interior, automatic), and two 1971 440-6 ‘Cuda convertibles (an EV2 Tor-Red, four-speed, and an FE5 Rallye Red automatic). All these rare cars now reside in top collections around the world.
The 'Cuda was in pretty good shape, having been stored off the road after the original engine was blown up sometime in the 1970s. It had passed through a succession of owners for years until Siegel purchased it.
A few years back, Siegel decided he needed a new 'Cuda in his life. “For years I have been searching for an original FC7 In-Violet ‘Cuda but had never been able to locate a suitable project car. That was until a friend down in Texas found this low-mileage example in 2018. When he discovered it, the ‘Cuda was in storage and had been through various owners since it was taken off the road in the mid-1970s. The reason it was sitting was that the original owner blew up the engine in the early 1970s and then proceeded to forget about the car. It was sold off and went through a series of owners without ever being put back together until I decided to bring the car back to all its 1970 glory,” states Siegel.
This ‘Cuda made for a perfect candidate for a full-blown restoration. Not only was this a nearly rust-free High Impact color car in FC7 In-Violet paint, it also was a four-speed ride. The pistol grip shifter was important to Siegel, as he wanted to manually row his ‘Cuda through the gears.
However, it was another option that was the kicker in the purchase. This particular ‘Cuda was one of the scarce 1970 340 motivated cars born with the N96 Shaker fresh air hood package. Though not a deal breaker if it was optioned with just the sport hood, the Shaker was definitely a welcome add-on to his new ride.
When it came to the Shaker, paint and body expert Dave Molnar had to source the one-year-only 340 Shaker base plate. "It's not interchangable with the 1971 cars, because in 1970 they used a Carter AVS [carburetor]. In 1971 they switched to a Carter Thermoquad. Once we found all the original parts, I sprayed the bubble in the correct textured argent silver," states Siegel.
The N96 option first saw light for the 1970 model year on 340, 383, 426 Hemi, 440 4-barrel and 440 six-barrel model Dodge Challengers and Plymouth Barracudas and 'Cudas, though it’s a rare site on the 340-equipped cars. “While the total production run of 340, four-speed versions of the ‘Cuda was 3,492, only 17 are known to have been built with the N96 Shaker Hood option in 1970,” states Siegel.
The explanation of their scarcity boils down to one main factor. “The reason they are so rare is that the Shaker option was not permitted to be ordered on 340-powered ‘Cudas until spring of 1970, with the actual production availability not occurring until April, 1970. Prior to that point the Shaker Hood was reserved for the 426 Hemi and 440 six-barrel ‘Cudas,” continues Siegel.
Once he had everything he needed to bring this rare ride up to snuff, he started the full blown nut and bolt restoration process on the 'Cuda.
When putting together the look he was after, Siegel decided on these rare Motor Wheel Spyders. "They were manufactured between 1968 and 1973. One of the coolest musclecar-era mags ever made. They are nearly impossible to find nowadays, and the center caps are literal unobtanium. I hand-sanded and polished the aluminum back to its original finish, then masked off and applied the correct black to the centers," Siegel says. Tires are F70x14 Goodyear Polyglas repop tires.
For the rebuild, a date-correct 340 block from another E-body was acquired by a previous owner and built up using the proper date sourced components, including the correct December 1969 dated, 3464828 cast-iron intake and L9 date coded, Carter 4933S AVS carburetor. As for the rest of the drivetrain, the A-833 four speed was the original numbers matching transmission to the car, and was rebuilt to spec. The 8.75-inch, 3.23-geared Sure Grip rear also received a rebuild, along with the 11-inch drum brakes at all for corners.
When it came to the ‘Cuda’s body, the car’s sheet metal was in relatively good condition, needing just minor metal massaging to get it back in tip-top shape. A trunk lid did have to be sourced due to a factory flaw in the outer surface which was easier to replace than fix. Once the body work was done, the flawless paintwork was laid done by Dave Molnar out of Texas. It’s a stunning skin, as the FC7 “In-Violet” looks a mile deep out in the sun.
"In the interior, I installed a 1972 Mopar Parts factory tachometer on the steering column. I have had this tach since buying it new from my local Plymouth dealer in 1979. It works perfectly." Other interior additions include a full white interior swap-out, an early 1970s Sanyo AM/FM/Cassette stereo and vintage Kraco 6x9 speakers.
From this point Siegel took some liberties with the design of his ‘Cuda, as he wanted it just the way he would have set it up back in the day. “I added the elastomeric bumpers to the front and back. I kept the original chrome pieces but just felt the A22 optioned bumpers complete the look of the car”. Other changes to the original build include adding the white upholstery to the interior (originally black) and adding an interesting set of shoes to the four corners.
“I wanted a true day-two look to the “Cuda, so I bought a set of wheels that were an aftermarket add-on at the time. I went with a set of Motor Wheel Spyders. They are truly one of the rarest and coolest aftermarket mags ever made,” states Siegel. Shod in re-pop Goodyear Polyglas F70x14 tires, the combo is the perfect add-on to this vintage ’70 muscle ride.
Once finished, Siegel wasted no time getting the ‘Cuda out on the street were it belonged. With its High Impact paint, Shaker, and perfect day-two look, the Plymouth stands out, even at Chrysler only shows. When Siegel was asked what it was like to drive his stunning ride, he put it simply: “Looks like a Hemi 'Cuda but drives twice as good, without all that extra weight in the front end!"