’71 custom ‘Cuda serves up a unique blend of past and present, and lets others worry about the future.
By Jim Koscs Photos by TheBruntBros
Some Mo’purists might see something fundamentally odd about a car that packs a nitrous-boosted-dual-quad-no-electronics-540 cube Hemi under the hood and yet inside features an integrated onboard nav system, killer sound system and automatic door poppers. Not to mention a Shaker hood that does not shake.
The Street Concepts-built 1971 ’Cuda seems to be straddling two worlds: the classic musclecar era under the hood, and the modern world of texting and iPods inside. There’s nothing that says the two can’t coexist. But if you look inside first, you might then expect to pop the hood and find an injected 6.1 Hemi. If you raise the hood first, you might expect to see a kind of bare bones Pro Stock style cockpit.
The result fairly screams “show car,” and it has garnered trophies. Street Concepts of Anaheim, CA, specializes in top-tier showcars for corporate clients, and has built award winners. The results are eye popping (no doubt the prices, too).
But hey, the customer is happy, and Street Concepts did a remarkable job of bridging the two worlds. Lately, the company has been bridging the Persian Gulf, customizing Bentleys for customers in Dubai who are apparently too poor to afford customized Rolls-Royces and Maybachs. Shawn Williams of Street Concepts says musclecar business for his American customers has softened.
This ’Cuda is a sibling to a Challenger that Street Concepts had done. That car has fuel injection, which this ’Cuda is likely to get, too.
Starting with essentially a trashed 1971 Barracuda, Street Concepts worked with several subcontractors to build this stunner. On its web site, Street Concepts says the car has a 700-horsepower crate Hemi. But Williams admitted that wheel horsepower was “disappointing” at 480. That was the reason for adding the NX direct port nitrous system.
Other than two Holleys by SMI, the 540 Hemi is an early version stock Mopar Performance, right out of the crate. Installation used a Magnumforce motor plate. A set of TTI headers empty into a custom Bassani exhaust system, done AAR-style with side pipes. Fuel is stored in the custom stainless steel tank made by Rick’s Hotrod Shop. The Bowler-built 727 tranny hooks to a Gear Vendors under/overdrive unit that allows gear splitting for six ratios.
The Speedway Engineering SuperMax quick-change unit currently houses a 3.55 rear axle ratio. A 4-link setup fabbed by Streetwize replaces the classic leaf spring setup. Up front, the original Chrysler suspension was ditched in favor of a Magnum Force tubular setup. Adjustable Vari shocks are used at all corners. And underneath, custom frame connectors help keep the now-mint E-body straight.
The stance looks about perfect using 20-inch GFG Klessig-5 forged dubs: 20 x 8.5 up front with 255/30R20 Toyo tires and 20 x 11.5 in rear with 295/30R20 tires. The Wilwood 4-wheel discs get braking power from a Hydroboost brake system.
So, there’s no shortage of names that impress.
The ’Cuda’s body, done up in PPG Lava Red, is drop-dead wicked gorgeous, no question. Credit goes to a tasteful mix of Year One resto panels, neat custom touches and impeccable prep and paint work by Fix Auto in Anaheim. The entire tail panel is new, custom fabricated with flush-mount taillights. Bumpers were shaved, smoothed and chromed by Cal Bumpers and are tucked for a tighter appearance.
Side markers and door handles were shaved, the latter replaced by automatic door poppers. (We were hoping for an ejector seat, but no such luck.) We’re glad to see Street Concepts kept the “gills.” As we mentioned, the Shaker does not shake but is attached directly to the hood. The customer, it seems, preferred to show off the carbs, which will likely be replaced anyway.
The interior, like the exterior, blends classic ’Cuda with modern and custom touches. Most of the items are new, sourced from Year One. The dash pad and door panels are swathed in leather, something you’d see on one of those Bentleys on its way to Dubai.
The custom console is made from aluminum and wrapped in leather. It neatly integrates the nav system screen and power window switches and B&M pistol grip shifter, but to our editorial third eye lacks the character of the original E-body console style. Cobra Sidewinder seats (named for not one but two different snakes) hold the driver in place while the ’Cuda is traveling sideways. A tilt column and Cascade steering wheel from Flaming River provide more grip and comfort than the original ’Cuda wheel. The custom gauge panel from Redline uses a carbon fiber overlay and houses Stewart Warner gauges. Silver faces with red letters look right out of a high-end sports car.
As if you could hear music above the 540-cube Hemi (and why would you want to?), a Kenwood DVD/CD head unit sends the tunes through amps, subs and speakers from MB Quart.
That’s quite a laundry list of Who’s Who in the custom musclecar world, and Street Concepts’ execution is flawless. What living, breathing car nut wouldn’t want to lay into this thing?
At the same time, the end result seems to lack the character you get when a smaller checkbook demands a bigger vision and innovation (whatever that means).