1985 Plymouth Cuda - Pg. 1
by Mike Wolterman
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In January 1985, Chrysler's Belvidere Assembly Plant hired 8 engineers fresh out of college and the plant manager gave us an assignment, to develop a Plymouth performance car based on the 2-door Plymouth L-Body to complement the Dodge GLH and Shelby Charger. We could use any parts as long as they were production or Mopar accessory parts. I was the person in the group who had some background on older Plymouths, I had had several 'Cudas and Challengers over the years and had a Plymouth Superbird at that time, which I still have. Since this vehicle was to be based off the Plymouth Turismo, we discussed basing the car off the Road Runner or 'Cuda names. When we looked at the types of parts that were available, rear spoilers, rear window louvers, and fog lamps, they seemed to fit the 'Cuda image better than the Road Runner image, so we decided to use the 'Cuda name for our car.

The stripes and name badges were made by 3M and were intended to mimic the AAR stripes, these were the only parts that did not currently exist. The rear spoiler was from a Dodge Daytona and intended to mimic the go-wings. The G-Body spoiler was a very close fit to the L body hatchback, but was not exact and as a result there was a slight sag in the center of the rear spoiler, but the fit was good enough for what we wanted to show.

The wheels were also G-body parts and we had 2 sets for each car, one set was body color (red for the red car and white for the white car) and the other set was stock. The rear louvers were Mopar accessories and there were also 2 sets for each car, one set was body color and the other set was black. We also had 2 sets of hood "grilles", again, one body colored and one black.

The fog lamps were from the Dodge GLH.

Both cars were special built on-line as Dodge Shelby Chargers but without any badging and with Plymouth interiors. The red car had a gray interior and was the first car built, the white car had a red interior and was the second car built. These were the only two 1985 'Cudas built, there were no others built. The white 'Cuda had a sunroof and the red 'Cuda did not. Both cars were modified with the "'Cuda" trim off-line, the red 'Cuda was modified first and the white 'Cuda last.

I am fairly certain that these had Plymouth VINs, I remember at the time that these were the only 2 Plymouths ever build with VINs showing a turbo engine. The turbo engines at that time were reserved exclusively for Dodge vehicles.

We went with the cars to Highland Park in April, 1985 (then Chrysler's headquarters) to pitch the car and were soundly rejected by the Dodge boys because only Dodges got the performance engines, that was not the Plymouth image. I've seen stories that Carroll Shelby was upset about the idea and rejected it, but I never heard that as the reason the project was killed. The cars did not use any unique Shelby parts, just the standard Chrysler 4-cylinder turbo that was available in most other Dodge vehicles at that time.

B5 blue has always been my favorite color on the 'Cudas and the GLH had a blue that was close to the B5 blue, I would have loved to have done one of these in that color blue. I don't remember how the colors were chosen, I suspect the red because it you typical high performance car color, but the white I don't remember.

Anyway, after that is was back to building L-Bodies and the cars were shipped off to be donated, not sure what happened after that but I had heard the white car was in the Chicago area and the red one was sent to a trade school somewhere in Ohio. I now know that the white one survived, and I have heard that the red one is also still around, but have not seen any proof of that.

       

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