Expression Session: pro touring Hellcat-powered Cuda

Aidan helps Ben Doble transform his 1970 Barracuda into a 1200hp, Hellcat-powered pro touring weapon

Photographers: Aidans Design & Illustration

WHEN it comes to chrome-bumper muscle cars in Australia, it’s fair to say the Plymouth Barracuda is under-represented. Outside of Mopar-only events, you’d probably be hard-pressed to see more than a handful of them each year, and even fewer being radically modified. So when Ben Doble’s ’70 ’Cuda was proposed for Expression Session, complete with a 1200hp Hellcat motor, insane custom fabrication and modern styling, I just had to take it on.

First published in the November 2021 issue of Street Machine

Ben already had a solid idea of what he wanted his build to look like, having thrown together a pretty comprehensive Photoshop example of his vision. It included 2018 Challenger Hellcat Widebody wheels, factory Limelight green paint with an AAR blackout on the bonnet and guards, and a killer stance, but there was still design work to be done on areas such as the modified front mouth, custom rear diffuser and exhaust tips.

Before starting, Ben and I got busy sharing ideas and inspiration for how we’d approach the finer details of the car. We quickly found out that we both had very similar inspirations regarding styling and a pretty keen passion for pro touring builds from shops like Ringbrothers, SpeedKore and Roadster Shop, so we both had a really clear vision for the car.

Beginning with a 3D model of a 1970 AAR ’Cuda, I fitted the Hellcat wheels, tyres and late-model GT350-sourced stopping gear, as they set the tone for the rest of the build.

Ben gave me free rein over the design of the diffuser and exhaust outlets, the only proviso being that it had to be “subtle and cool”. Given the modernised styling of Ben’s concept, I drew influence from a lot of late-model performance cars, refined my ideas over a couple of sketches, and modelled the design onto the car. We both really liked it, but to me it still needed something to make it cohesive with the rest of the body. So, I designed a small lip on the rear rollpan to extend partly over the top of the diffuser. After that, we were both sold.

At the front, I extended the lower mouth downwards, reshaped the lower edge with an accentuated point in the middle, and extended the lower front section of the guards to match, in keeping with Ben’s initial design. The factory lower mouth insert was redesigned to suit, but with a subtle chamfer added to the inner edge to add a little more character. To tidy the front up some more, the upper edge of the lower front valance was tucked up and behind the bumper, eliminating the visible factory gaps, and the number plate recess was filled in.

We toyed with the idea of removing the factory parking lights and upper grille vents to further modernise the ’Cuda’s appearance, but it looked pretty bare and took away a lot of its character. “We realised it needed these details in the front to balance out the details in the rear,” Ben says.

Sticking with the stock grille, we swapped out the stock headlights for Dapper Lighting units with a built-in halo, as a nod to the modern Challenger headlights, but retained some original styling with the OE glass option. The side mirrors are current-model Mustang items with built-in indicators, with a custom-designed stalk so they fit nicely to the ’Cuda’s doors.

Throughout most of the design process, Ben was set on factory Limelight green paint, but after he requested we throw a few other colours on the car to see how the modifications looked without the green, we quickly chose Chevrolet Silver Ice Metallic instead. “After seeing around 30 renderings in green, Aidan sent a silver rendering and I couldn’t go past it,” Ben says. “I kept going back to it.”

Ben’s pretty handy with a pencil and CAD too, so he drew up a neat redesign of the factory hockey stripe, which we threw onto the quarters.

In the cabin, Recaro CS seats set the pro touring theme, with black leather and black suede throughout, augmented by red stitching to tie in with the red highlights on the exterior. A 2018 Challenger Hellcat centre console and shifter will go between the Recaros, with a paddle shifter assembly backing the Sparc Industries Truss steering wheel.

The ’Cuda is currently in the build at Ben’s business, Canberra SRT, and should be finished in around 18 months. He’s in the process of 3D-scanning the car with its new driveline and suspension components in place so he can CAD-design the full tube frame and rollcage, along with a billet removable firewall.

Ben plans to “drive the shit out of it” when it’s done, so I can’t wait to see this thing out cruising!

In detail:

  • Custom rear diffuser with Billet exhaust tips
  • 2018 Challenger Hellcat wheels
  • Mustang GT350 Brembo brakes
  • Custom billet hood pins
  • Extended lower mouth


Paint: Chevrolet Silver Ice Metallic
Brand: Chrysler 6.2L Hemi
Induction: Supercharged
ECU: Mopar Hellcrate
Heads: Stock Hellcat
Camshaft: Tapped Performance
Conrods: Molnar
Pistons: Diamond
Crank: Stock
Cooling: Natrad radiator
Exhaust: Dual 3in
Gearbox: GM 4L80E
Diff: Strange Dana 60
Chassis: Custom tube frame
Front: RMS AlterKtion
Rear: Competition Engineering four-link
Brakes: Mustang GT350 (f&r)
Master cylinder: Mustang GT350
Rims: Hellcat Widebody; 20×9.5 (f), 20×10.5 (r)
Rubber: Nitto Invo; 285/30R20(f), 315/35R20(r)

Got a cool idea for a build that you’d like to see brought to life in Expression Session? Email us at [email protected] with a detailed explanation.