When it comes to a segment of the automotive aftermarket as broad and rich as street machines (which potentially covers any modified post-WWII vehicle), the use of hyperbole such as "best ever" usually results in groans of disbelief and rolled eyes. In the case of Bob Johnson’s 1971 Plymouth Cuda, however, Popular Hot Rodding Magazine believes that the term may actually apply.
The key design features of the Cuda were maintained, but the wheelbase was stretched three inches, and the windshield and backlight were moved rearwards by two inches. To my eyes, these changes serve to amplify the low-and-wide look of the original. Tucked under the carbon-fiber front body panels and sitting entirely behind the front axle is an aluminum 572-cube Hemi that produces an enormous 870 HP. A Corvette transaxle and suspension parts are used to route the power to the ground, where it reacts against a curb weight of only 2800 lbs. Consider that this vehicle is lighter than a Honda S2000 and has nearly four times the power, and one struggles to comprehend what it must be like to drop the hammer.
Johnson’s Cuda does bring up a fairly significant question about the future of hot-rodding - just how far can one go? Builders such as Chip Foose and Troy Trepanier have undoubtedly raised the level of street-machine excellence to levels previously not comprehended, and the use of exotic materials and parts in this build points the way towards the future. Right now, the solitary unwritten rule is that the end product has to remotely resemble a production vehicle, and that seems to be the only thing preventing the top builders from constructing what would essentially be million-dollar one-off kit cars. At some point, one of these builders will want to transcend what Detroit was doing 30, 40, or 50 years ago, and it’ll be interesting to gauge the public’s reaction when that happens.