‘Cuda, Challenger ‘pilot cars’ readied for Mecum Florida auction

The 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T is one of the first Challengers ever built | Mecum Auctions
The 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T is one of the first Challengers ever built | Mecum Auctions

A pair of exceptional Mopar pre-production “pilot cars” from the new-model changeover year of 1970 – Plymouth ‘Cuda and Dodge Challenger R/T convertibles, each of them the first of their kind equipped with the 440 Six Pack engine option – will be auctioned by Mecum at the January sale in Kissimmee, Florida.

Both of the high-performance pony cars were built at Chrysler’s Hamtramck, Michigan, assembly plant on August 1, 1969, as the new E-body ‘Cudas and Challengers were prepared for mass production. Each has some unique features compared with the final assembly-line models, and each has been documented as authentic.

The pain-white 1970 Plymouth ‘Cuda is powered by a 440 Six Pack V8.
The plain-white 1970 Plymouth ‘Cuda is powered by a 440 Six Pack V8.

The Plymouth is possibly the first car to wear the ‘Cuda badge, with VIN sequence 100004. The convertible is equipped with the new “Shaker” hood in which the air-intake scoop is connected directly to the engine and emerges from a hood opening.

The Alpine White ‘Cuda convertible is equipped with the 3X2 Holley carburetor-fed 440 Super Commando V8 that was rated at 390 horsepower. Just 16 convertibles so-equipped were built after this one during the 1970 model year. One of just two white 1970 440 Six Pack convertibles, this car was completely restored in 2005, according to the Mecum description, and mileage on the car currently reads 8,835 miles.

The Plymouth Challenger R/T pilot car includes such upgrade options as leather upholstery, wood-rimmed steering wheel, power windows and a power top, and the four-speed manual transmission is activated by a Hurst Pistol Grip shifter.

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The Challenger is also believed to be the first 440 Six Pack convertible built, and one of the first Challengers ever created, apparently the fourth car off the assembly line. The car is one of only 61 Six Pack Challengers built for the 1970 model year.

The Dodge Challenger is fitted with the Track Pac
The Dodge Challenger is fitted with the Track Pac

Bright Red with a white convertible top, the Challenger is fitted with the A33 Track Pak that includes four-speed manual transmission, 3.54 Dana Sure Grip differential and performance cooling system. Body features include a performance hood with hood pins, chrome luggage rack, chrome exhaust tips, flip-open gas-filler cap, R/T stripe and 440 Six Pack graphics.

The interior features vinyl upholstery with a six-way driver’s seat, power windows and power top, Rallye Dash with tachometer and a Hurst Pistol Grip shifter.

When new, the car was used as an automotive press test car, and it was featured in several publications. The Challenger has been fully restored, according to Mecum, and includes full documentation. Mileage is just over 61,000 miles.

Mecum’s Kissimmee collector car auction takes place January 15-24 at Osceola Heritage Park in Kissimmee, with more than 3,000 vehicles expected to be up for sale.

For more information, visit the auction website.

Bob Golfen is a longtime automotive writer and editor, focusing on new vehicles, collector cars, car culture and the automotive lifestyle. He is the former automotive writer and editor for The Arizona Republic and SPEED.com, the website for the SPEED motorsports channel. He has written free-lance articles for a number of publications, including Autoweek, The New York Times and Barrett-Jackson auction catalogs. A collector car enthusiast with a wide range of knowledge about the old cars that we all love and desire, Bob enjoys tinkering with archaic machinery. His current obsession is a 1962 Porsche 356 Super coupe.