Miniature Curbside Classic: 1970 Plymouth ‘cuda By Highway 61

The redesigned 1970 Plymouth Barracuda and Dodge Challenger were supposed to take Mopar’s pony cars to a whole new level. Unfortunately, cheap interiors (rattly one-piece door panels, anyone?), added weight, and the availability of more bang for the buck in the 340-equipped A-bodies shuttled them to also-ran status by 1972. But people surely love them today–myself included. As a result, there are tons of mini E-bodies on the market, and this 1/18-scale version by Highway 61 is, in my opinion, the best.

I started out collecting 1/18-scale cars when I was in elementary school. My grandparents would get me one, usually by Bburago, every Christmas; I still have the Jaguar SS, Mercedes 500K and others from those days. By the mid-’90s I got into the American Muscle series by Ertl, who was first to do a 1/18-scale E-body. But when Highway 61 released their ‘cuda in about 2003, it quite simply blew the Ertls out of the water.

Highway 61 was one of the first companies to offer mint-quality models in a scale larger than 1/24 or 1/25. Their quality was very good, but it was the detail that amazed me. Check out the true-to-the-original trunk mat, mini spare (with aerosol inflation canister!) and jack. You can’t see it from this angle, but there are legible jacking instructions on the inside of the trunk lid!

With accurate hood hinges, accurate door hinges (no “dog leg” hinges like older diecast cars), felt carpeting, a driveshaft that turned with the rear wheels–they were truly amazing. The bucket seats slide back and forth, and also fold forward. The seat belts are made of cloth with metal buckles. Even the glove box opens!

The proportions are accurate as well. While I still like the Ertl ‘cuda and Challenger, their body shapes (particularly the Challenger’s) were just a bit off.

The first Highway 61 ‘cudas I got were the very first releases, in late 2003: a ’70 Hemi ‘cuda in Rallye Red with red interior, and a Plum Crazy AAR with black interior. My brother, who is even more into E-bodies than I am–his first car was a ’73 ‘cuda 340–had to get them for his own model collection.

Many, many color variations were released over the years, as were 1971 models. This Limelight ’70 440 was a limited-edition through Super Car Collectibles, and I got mine through my local hobby shop in Davenport. Not only was it a cool color, it also had a white interior! Of course I had to get it.

Most of the releases had the Shaker hood, and this is the only ‘cuda in my collection with the twin-scoop hood. It is nice- looking, in its own way. And by the way, this one came with tiny hood pins to hold the hood closed–you can just make out the holes in the posts at each corner of the hood. Since they’re quite easy to lose, I leave them in the trunk so they don’t get lost. Highway 61 thoughtfully provided several spares with each model.

The interior detail even includes a headliner and fold-down sun visors. Some of the other Highway 61 models, like the ’67 442, go even further, with opening center consoles! It’s amazing, the engineering that goes into these scale models.