On Sunday, September 1, just before 1 am (PST), multiple reports came out about Kevin Hart being involved in a car accident. The driver, Jared Black, lost control of Hart’s 1970 Plymouth ‘Cuda while driving with Hart and Black’s fiancé, Rebecca Broxterman, in the back seat. The car plowed through a wooden fence and careened down an embankment, where it came to rest in a heap. Hart was able to exit the car, but Black and Broxterman were stuck and had to be cut out by emergency crews. Both men sustained injuries and, according to CBS Los Angeles, were taken to nearby hospitals. Hart underwent back surgery and is expected to recover.
This wasn’t just any ‘Cuda, though. The car was built by SpeedKore, a company that’s setting precedents for carbon-fiber-bodied muscle cars. In its original form, the ‘Cuda was powered by a 6.4-liter Hemi V-8 and made 720 hp with the help of a 2.9-liter Whipple supercharger. The main course was the gratuitous carbon-fiber work that the shop is known for, along with HRE wheels, Baer Brakes, and a fully custom interior upholstery from Gabe’s Custom Upholstery. For his 40th birthday, the comedian/actor purchased the car for himself with a few changes; the 6.4 engine and the transmission were swapped out in favor of a blown 6.2-liter out of a Dodge Challenger Demon. SpeedKore had no official comment on the accident. To see what the highly customized Barracuda looked like before its unfortunate crash, and get a full breakdown on all that went into building it, check out the hot rod feature article below.
In its short history, SpeedKore Performance Group has made a name for itself by building high-end, high-power muscle, with an emphasis on classic Mopars. Their latest build, this 1970 ‘Cuda, belongs to SpeedKore co-owner Jim Kacmarcik, so of course it follows the trend of bringing top-notch build quality and design with handling and drivability. It debuted at the 2016 SEMA show and its aggressive presence makes it deserving of its nickname, Menace.
SpeedKore took three main goals into consideration when designing Menace. First, the project had to return a practical driver. It had to be timeless. After all, when you’re starting with one of Mopar’s most iconic models, there’s no point in scrapping the whole thing. Finally, the car had to be innovative, incorporating unique design elements under the hood, in the cabin, and wherever appropriate. Sean Smith, SpeedKore’s design director, took those goals to task, “Our approach is to highlight and preserve the styling of the vehicle that the fan base loves.” That meant no over the top spoilers, wings, or unnecessary scoops, just simple and clean style with a mean presence.
To update the ‘Cuda’s lines, the window and drip rail moldings were eliminated and the hood was simplified. Molded in carbon fiber, the hood’s twin, raised scoops were extended toward the windshield and the cowl vents were deleted. Both the top and bottom of the hood were molded in carbon fiber before being bonded together. The quarter panel pockets house the door opening switches, as in a late-model Corvette. The rectangular notches hint at the somewhat industrial factory latches without interrupting the flow of the carbon fiber door skin. The quarter panels also house the exhaust bezels that were manufactured in-house. At the rear, panel gaps were minimized as a new carbon fiber valence was molded in and a carbon fiber bumper sits tucked into the quarters. You’ll notice that’s quite a bit of sheetmetal that was replaced by carbon fiber. SpeedKore offers lots of E-body parts in the lightweight composite, so designer Sean Smith decided to do a modern take on the AAR graphic and leave the carbon exposed on top of the fenders, hood, and doors.
The interior of the ‘Cuda was treated to the most radical redesign, as all of the carpet, vinyl, and plastic were stripped out leaving only a bare shell for the SpeedKore team to build from. The bones of the car’s interior were 3D scanned and a whole new look was conceived. Bill Jakum began with a new dash that was filled with a billet aluminum gauge cluster. The rear seats were eliminated, in their place is a shelf with twin storage boxes. Front seats began as high-backed Recaro buckets that were trimmed down before they were sent to Gabe’s Custom Street Rod Interiors in San Bernardino, California. There, Gabe upholstered the seats, dash, console, and door panels in black leather.
The epitome of Mopar pony cars was the Hemi ‘Cuda. Considering the car’s looks, handling, and braking had all received modern upgrades, it only seemed right to use a Gen III Hemi. Wegner Motorsports in Markesan, Wisconsin, took on the job of blueprinting and dyno testing the 6.4L Hemi powerplant. It uses a factory block, crank, and heads with equal-length headers and stainless steel exhaust fabricated by SpeedKore’s Bill Jakum and Ben Murphy. The V8 is topped by a Whipple 2.9L supercharger and carbon fiber valve covers. The combo churns out 720 hp at a street-friendly 5,800rpm, with torque on tap from idle. A custom firewall, core support, and inner fenders designed by Sean Smith, frame the engine. Lyle Brummer developed the tooling for the molds and they were all formed in carbon fiber.
To return the modern handling befitting a build like this, Speedkore chose a Roadster Shop Fast Track subframe as their new jumping off point. The SpeedKore team modified it starting just behind the control arms, making the rails taller and incorporating them into the firewall and cowl support to minimize flex. The tall Hemi and large, deep-sump oil pan from Stef’s Fabrication Specialties required modifying the Roadster Shop crossmember . A Detroit Speed rack and pinion was the perfect, although not drop-in, solution. SpeedKore fired up their computer drafting software to model the front suspension and design new tie rod spindle drops that eliminate bumpsteer with the new rack. With little room to work, a splined sway bar from Speedway was located ahead of the oil pan. A set of HRE S101 wheels were fitted to Menace, with 19x10s in the front wearing 245/35XR19 Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires and 20×12-inch hoops in the back with massive, 345/30ZR20 Michelins.
Completing SpeedKore’s vision, Bill Nicoud, SpeedKore’s head painter, spent countless hours prepping the body before spraying it in a custom mix they’ve dubbed Lakeshore Blue. It’s not too far off from the factory 1970 P-6 paint code, Frosted Teal Poly and is a perfect fit for the ‘Cuda. Along with the exposed carbon fiber, the painted panels were drenched in clear to give them amazing depth that only comes from hours of wet sanding and buffing.
The result of SpeedKore’s labor is a perfect reporting of muscle-era lines with details that keep rewarding the viewer. The body is very much a ‘Cuda, only refined, while the engine bay and interior reflect SpeedKore’s more modern, muscular aesthetic. This is the most pure example of their design philosophy yet.
A version of this story originally appeared on hot rod