Hellcat-swapped 1970 Plymouth ’Cuda in the build

The finished product will be a 1200hp pro touring weapon


Ben Doble is the face of Canberra SRT, a new business that specialises in service and replacement parts for late-model Mopars.

When he’s not managing the company with engine builder and mate Rick Wallace, he’s working on this killer pro touring Plymouth Barracuda build.

He bought the 1970 ’Cuda in 2009 as a running proposition, though it was suffering from rust in the firewall and right-hand chassis rail due to a leaking brake master cylinder.

“I put the car on a chassis table to get it square and ordered a couple of reproduction rails out of the States,” Ben recounts.

“One thing grew into the next, and my objective of getting it back together with a big-block in it changed to the Hellcat crate engine, and then I thought, ‘I may as well make it stop and handle.’”

Ben’s well-equipped for the job, too, having done plenty of fabrication work on Mark Arblaster’s WAR440 and POR440 Valiants alongside Rick.

The ’Cuda will be repowered with a 6.2-litre Hellcat crate engine. While many would settle with the stock 707hp on offer, Ben plans to go even further.

A fully forged bottom end will replace the factory rotating assembly, while the blower will be ported by SDG Motorsports. With a diet of E85, Ben’s confident the donk will make 1200hp.

A GM-sourced 4L80E four-speed auto will back the Hemi via a Wilcap adapter. It’ll be connected to a Bluetooth transmission controller from TCI, which will itself connect to steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters. The original gear selector will be retained for park/neutral/reverse/drive functionality.

Ben’s primary goal is to build a car he can “drive the shit out of”, so he’s paying serious attention to handling dynamics. Everything forward of the firewall has been removed in readiness for an AlterKtion coil-over independent front end, sourced from Reilly MotorSports. That also means tubular control arms and rack-and-pinion steering will make the cut.

The rear end will be replaced with a Strange coil set-up and Competition Engineering four-link. Ben’s also planning to install a Race Products screw-adjustable Watt’s link, enabling him to adjust the roll centre of the diff from inside the car. The third member itself will be a Strange 60, replacing the factory Dana unit.

Shelby GT500-sourced Brembo brakes will make sure the ’Cuda pulls up smartly, with six-piston calipers on 400mm rotors up front, and four-pots on two-piece Wilwood discs out back, modified to fit the floating rear.

Ben’s not stopping there. To ensure the ’Cuda lives up to its pro touring genre, he’ll be cutting out the floor and building a full tube frame within the factory sheet metal. “Most guys in the US tend to just buy an aftermarket chassis and put it underneath,” Ben says. “But because of our engineering rules, it’s not really a feasible thing without doing it as an ICV [independently constructed vehicle].

“To get the 6.2 into my car engineered, it falls outside the VSB14 table of capacity-to-weight, which means I have to stiffen the chassis.

“I have to pass a torsion and beam test on the chassis once it’s strengthened, which is why I’m going to build a full chrome-moly rollcage and tube frame chassis within the confines of the original sheet metal.”

The ’cage will run through the sills, up the pillars, behind the firewall and under the parcel shelf – all covered by factory trim pieces. The firewall itself will be replaced with a bolt-in, billet-aluminium item.

SM Expression Session’s Aidan Donald has also been engaged to create a 3D rendering of the ’Cuda, which Ben says will be used as a virtual test-bed for the final product. “I can go through the interior and all that kind of stuff, and if there’s something I don’t like I can change it before it gets too late in the build.”

If all goes to plan, the ’Cuda should be finished in around 18 months. You can keep track of the build via Canberra SRT’s Facebook page.