1970 Plymouth Hemi `Cuda Pro Touring

RK Motors Charlotte is becoming rather famous for their “Pro Touring” lineup of vehicles. The latest rendition we came across was the 1970 Plymouth Hemi `Cuda, which was featured at SEMA in 2008.
For those that aren’t familiar with RKM’s “Pro Touring” cars, we’ll let you in on the secret. RKM takes a decent looking muscle car – so far we’ve seen a 1967 Sting Ray Corvette and a 1955 Ford Thunderbird – completely guts it, then restores it with mild modernization. So far, RKM has really impressed us with its perfect mixture of classic muscle with modern technology.

Some of the modern touches we have seen included are an LCD touch screen stereo and navigation system on the `55 T-bird, and an LS2 V-8 in the `67 Sting Ray, all while retaining the vehicle’s original character. This specimen appears to be much of the same perfection on the surface, but what does it look like as we pull back the layers?
Exterior
The first thing that was done to this `Cuda was the elimination of the boringly flat hood that originally came on it. In its place is a hand-formed steel hood that features very modern lines and a set of nostrils that look like they belong there. Under the front end is a large valance that helps add some character to the notoriously bland front end of the `Cuda. In the center opening of this valance are the factory fog lamps.


Behind this stylish hood, you have a flush-mount windshield that allows air to swoop over it with little resistance. The front fenders are identical to the originals, except that the turn signal was eliminated to smooth out the side profile. The doors are factory, but the outside door handle is shaved off and the side-view mirrors are taken from a Chrysler Crossfire. The rear quarter panels are factory, but the turn signals were eliminated and they were widened to allow the larger rear tires.
On the backside, you will notice a flush-mount rear window. You also get a spoiler that looks like it came from the factory with the car, as it swoops downward and molds perfectly with the top of the rear quarter panel. The rear light panel is a completely custom job that houses LED taillights that resemble the factory taillights from the 1970 `Cuda. Down below you have a custom valance that features diffusers to help add downforce and air flows underneath the car.
The restoration job was a tedious one that included making sure that every single body panel was 100 percent flawless. If there were any flaws, that panel was replaced by an exact replica panel. The car was taken down to bare metal, then a coat of Vibrants Purfect Purple and PPG Star Silver was draped on the body to make a two-tone effect. Between the purple and silver is an airbrushed repeating rectangle design down the side of the car.
On the front end of this `Cuda you get a set of 18-inch Bonspeed Quasar wheels and on the rear you get the same wheels, but in 20-inch. These wheels really set off the entire exterior and sure up that modern look.
Overall, this exterior is a thing of beauty and the custom builders really did a great job balancing the old with the new.
Interior
The front seats in this beast are straight from the interior of a Corvette. They are wrapped in black leather and feature a mesh insert in the centermost part. The rear seats are actually built from the original bench seat in this `Cuda, but the bench was modified to look just like the front seats.
The door panels are 100 percent custom fabricated. They are all black leather and feature a mesh insert on the center, just like the seats. Between the front seats sits a fully custom center console that somewhat resembles the center console that originally say in the car. The main differences are a carbon fiber insert in the console, a “Start Engine” button mounted on the console, air ride suspension controls and the pistol-grip shifter protruding from the center console.
Behind the leather-wrapped steering wheel sets a full set of custom gauges, which required slight modifications to the factory dashboard. Keeping your rides interesting is an Alpine radio. The audio system includes two door-mounted speakers, two rear pack tray-mounted speakers and Kicker subwoofers in the trunk. Keeping road noise out and the sound of the radio in is a full layer of sound deadening material.
Behind the leather-wrapped steering wheel sets a full set of custom gauges, which required slight modifications to the factory dashboard. Keeping your rides interesting is an Alpine radio. The audio system includes two door-mounted speakers, two rear pack tray-mounted speakers and Kicker subwoofers in the trunk. Keeping road noise out and the sound of the radio in is a full layer of sound deadening material.
Engine and Drivetrain
The builders of this machine ripped out the old 426 Hemi V-8, which was an impressive engine for its era, and replaced it with a modern day 6.1-liter Hemi V-8. This is no standard 6.1-liter engine, as the notorious Hemi engine builders at Arrington built this beast. There is no mention of the mods performed on this engine, with exception to long-tube headers and an X-pipe, but it certainly has at least a few, as it cranks out an impressive 525 horsepower.
The engine also received some styling upgrades. The first thing you will notice is that the valve covers don the same purple color as the top of the car. You also get the airbrushed rectangles on the top of the valve covers. The intake has also been polished to a mirror-like shine.
To continue on with the modernization of the drivetrain, this car comes with a five-speed manual transmission, as opposed to the four-speed that came stock. The rear end features an 8.75-inch Chrysler rear differential and a set of 3.91 gears, which are the perfect balance between powerful acceleration and top speed.
Overall, we love the drivetrain and the fact that the crack team made it all look just like it was built for the car.
Suspension and Braking
On all four corners are air shocks, which are adjustable from inside the cockpit. On the front and rear you also get large sway bars to keep the body lean in check under hard cornering. The braking system is from Baer and features ventilate discs on each corner, but there is no mention of the type of calipers. Wrapped around the beautiful staggered rims are Nitto Invo tire – 245/40R18 on the front and 295/35R20 on the rear.
In all, there is not much mention made in reference to the suspension and braking systems, so chances are that the modifications are minimal. The `Cuda was never known as much of a handler, so chances are you can expect the same from this model.
Pricing
Let’s start off by telling you that a mint condition Hemi `Cuda books out at $856,000, per NADA. Typically, a fully customized and restored model like this would fetch a premium, but it is actually significantly cheaper than the NADA value, as RKM is only asking $199,900.
This makes us seriously doubt that this was actually a Hemi `Cuda to begin with. It was likely a base model `Cuda that inherited the “Hemi” name because it now sports a Hemi. Even if this is a base level `Cuda, it still books out at $70,000, but an almost 300 percent markup for the customization would be a little crazy.
Competition
The only real competition that this car receives is from its own showroom, in the form of the `67 Corvette Sting Ray Pro Touring. On the outside we will be blunt and say that the Corvette is plain out a sexier car. Yeah, it lacks the muscular looks of the `Cuda, but it’s just more stylish. Plus we like the yellow paintjob far better than the two-tone paint on the `Cuda.
Under the hood, the `Cuda wins out power, as it cranks out at least 525 ponies, compared to the `Vette’s 521 horsepower. Also, the Hemi engine just sounds right in the classic `Cuda, whereas the LS2 V-8 almost looks out of place under the Corvette’s hood.
On the inside, the `67 Sting Ray is the hands down winner. RKM did an awesome job keeping the Corvette looking as original as possible. The interior of the `Cuda looks cheap and almost like the builders rushed through it.
Conclusion
The first thing you would need to do before deciding to purchase this car is to find out exactly what trim level `Cuda it is based on. If it is a true Hemi `Cuda, then snag this thing up and run away, because you’re likely to go to jail for grand theft auto at that price. If it is a base model, we suggest walking away or picking up the 1967 Sting Ray for about $40K less. If it falls somewhere in the middle, the choice is yours, but we say the Sting Ray is the safer bet.