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by Patrick Rall
August 2015 update: there does appear to be a Dodge Barracuda in the works for 2019-2021, in coupe and convertible form.)
This is the first of our new FauxPar features, where we look at rumored upcoming vehicles that are not real, explain why they aren’t real, and talking about any possibility of them ever becoming real.
We decided to do this after the recent rash of fake news sites posting about new Chrysler Group cars coming in the near future. Since Allpar is the authority on all things Mopar, FauxPar seemed like a fun title for a feature that focuses on the fake Mopars “coming to market.”
Over the next few weeks, we will examine several of the recent rumors, but today we address one that has been running for many moons – the reincarnation of the Plymouth Barracuda or the Cuda name in general. Allpar itself may have been part of this one.
The return of the Cuda name to the Chrysler Group lineup has been a longstanding rumor dating back to the debut of the modern Dodge Challenger back in 2008. Chrysler Group bolstered the rumors by showing off a ’Cuda Concept at the SEMA show back in 2007, but even that car was really just a Challenger with a new nose and tail.
Throughout the past few decades, Chrysler and then FCA US have regularly trademarked the Cuda name, catching everyone’s attention and getting hopes up of seeing a modern ’Cuda in their local dealership showroom. (The original ’Cuda was a higher performance version of the Plymouth Barracuda.)
Chrysler has sometimes put unusual styling-study concept cars in the background of interview segments, showing what many believed to be the Cuda Concept. The expectation was that the Cuda would be smaller and lighter than the Challenger, with similar drivetrains. However, the modern Cuda has never come to be and right now, we wouldn’t expect to see a Cuda from the Chrysler Group any time soon.
Insiders have told Dave at Allpar that, at one point, the Chrysler Group planned to have a car called the Cuda or Barracuda that would be marketed under the SRT brand, just like the modern Viper was when it was first introduced. However, the same people later said that the plan was rejected because there would be no stylistic resemblance to the original (which was also a Plymouth). In addition, they found they could not, in practical terms, shrink the LC Challenger much further without it “looking funny” — that is, while keeping room for the big powertrains and four passengers.
The chances of an alternate SRT Cuda – which may have been the initial name of the car that we know now as the Hellcat Challenger – went out the window when SRT was folded into Dodge [except for the Grand Cherokee SRT and in some foreign markets].
Unfortunately, with the push in the modern American auto industry to remove redundancies across brands, there is almost no chance of seeing a new Cuda in the foreseeable future. While we might see another rear wheel drive coupe at some point that will likely be smaller than the Challenger, it doesn’t seem likely that there will be a Dodge Cuda, and since Chrysler is a luxury brand, the likelihood of a high performance Chrysler Cuda isn’t very good, either. Since Plymouth is dead and buried, any mention of the return of the Plymouth brand in the modern automotive industry is almost certainly false.
There might have been a place for the Cuda, but those days are gone, and so are the chances of seeing a new Mopar muscle car that is similar to the Challenger in any way. Chrysler may introduce a slightly smaller, lighter Challenger in the future, but don’t expect the rumored Cuda anytime soon and especially not for 2016-2017.
In the end, Mopar lovers should continue to cherish the fact that we have the mighty Hellcat. What we will see in the 2018-2020 model year (whenever the large-car line is replaced) is still a mystery, though the first reason for dropping it, after all — not wanting two “retro cars” — remains intact, and why take a chance on a Plymouth name when the Dodge is doing so well?
See Allpar’s rumor roundup and more renderings of the 2018 Dodge Barracuda / Cuda... from 2012 on to today.
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