The Plymouth Barracuda is one of the most sort after American Classic autos. It started out as as a 'pony car', the all American sports compact car. A car that was all about fun and good times. It beat that other well loved 'pony car', the classic mustang, into the showrooms by just 2 weeks but never matched the sales of that car. When you look at the evolution of these cars it started very much as a light, small and agile sports saloon but over the decade the mood would change to a heavy, large and powerful muscle car. There have so far been three distinct phases of the Barracuda with many more rumors about its return. Here are the basics of those three phases.
1964-1966 Plymouth Barracuda
The Plymouth Barracuda started out life in 1964 as a 2-door fastback coupe that was based on the Plymouth Valiant chassis, A-body, with a unique wrap around glass fastback giving a sleek sporty look with excellent internal viability. Whilst this model did not justify the label of that fierce predator the Barracuda fish for future generations it certainly would be a very fitting name.
The power train started with a very modest 170 ci 101bhp slant 6 engine with an option to a 225 ci 145 bhp version. Top of the range engine was a new 273 ci V-8 fitted with a twin barrel card giving a respectable 180 bhp. Whilst these engines were sufficient for a sporty little pony car there was much more to come in the muscle bound future models.
1967-1969 Plymouth Barracuda
The second version of the Plymouth Barracuda was a major re-design to take it away from its Valiant routes to a new longer sleek design. In fact it still was based on the Valiant but with all new panels to give three body shape variants, fastback, notchback and convertible to match the Mustang variants. Apart from being longer the styling had many more curves and with flowing lines, open wheel arches a distinctive front and rear.
The base engine for 1967 was the 225 ci slant 6 145 bhp with the V-8 option 273 ci. There was also a glimpse of the future with the option of a big block 383 ci developing 280 bhp. 1968 brought a two new V-8's the 318 ci and the 340 ci whilst the 383 plant was upgraded in output to 300 and then 330 bhp. 1968 saw the introduction of the performance option called 'Formula S'. These were available with 4-speed manual transmission, dual exhausts, beefed up suspension and wider tires. The performance option of 1969 became the 'Cuda'. This was based on the 'Formula S' but with the engine variants of 340 ci, 383 ci and new 440 V-8 Super Commando. This real deal 'Cuda 440' engine produced to 390 bhp as standard but brakes and handling were yet to catch up with straight line performance. As drag racing was proving popular that was not top of the agenda.
1970-1974 Plymouth Barracuda
The third generation Barracuda hit the streets in 1969 with just 2 different bodies, the coupe and convertible. The original fastback was not continued. This all new 'E' body was a complete change from the valiant predecessors and was shorter and wider than the 'B body'. It shared this new platform with the Dodge Challenger but whilst there are similarities the Dodge had completely different panel work. Best of all the new chassis was big enough to take the big block 'hemi' engines and the top of the range sports version was now known and badged as the 'Hemi Cuda'.
Externally the addition of side fender gills really started to match the namesake barracuda fish and with teeth to match.
The other signs are the now fully functional shaker hood, beefed up chassis, rear axle and brakes all added to awesome package that lasted until 1971 before being discontinued. Only about 750 Hemi 'Cuda's' were built making this very rare yet desirable motor that has enthusiasts and investors paying great sums of money for.