Plymouth marketed the Barracuda model from 1964 until 1974. The first generation, as this one is, was a fastback A-body coupe. It was based on the Plymouth Valiant and was produced with the big wraparound rear window for just two years. The Formula S performance package was first offered for the 1965 model year. Unlike the relatively docile early car, the Formula S had the Commando 273 cubic-inch V8 engine, suspension upgrades, larger wheels and tires and offered factory air-conditioning as an option. The V8 engine had a four-barrel carburetor, 10.5:1 compression, and a high performance camshaft. These upgrades increased horsepower to 235.
The first generation Barracuda came at a time when auto companies were looking to expand in the growing compact-size market. The Barracuda offered an alternative with a performance twist. This was Plymouths attempt to grab a piece of the youth market that the Ford Mustang dominated, but sales were considerably lower than expected, making these cars a rare sight.
With the sporty fastback design and performance package, they remain a stand-out among the lower priced cars of the era. In 1967 Plymouth totally redesigned the Barracuda, and offered upgraded performance options. These upgrades would continue through the muscle war years of the late 1960's and early 1970's.
Six Cylinder Sport Hardtop
The Plymouth Barracuda was marketed against Mustangs, Camaros and Firebirds.
This car is equipped with a 273 cubic-inch Chrysler's 'Commando' V8 engine with 10.5:1 compression ratio, solid lifters and produces 235 horsepower. The car is equipped with a heavy duty front torsion bar, rear spring suspension and front and rear anti-sway bars.
The engine and transmission were built in 1998 with the body also being restored at that time. A reproduction of the original exhaust system, including an original type muffler and exhaust resonator, were also installed.
The car also includes upgraded electronic ignition, gas shocks and period correct Cragger 'S/S Wheels'.
It has the original 'wood-grain' steering wheel and an original style exhaust system, unique to the Commando engine. The suspension has been upgraded and '14' mag wheels and tires were installed.
The rear glass was the largest single piece of glass used in a US production car at the time. For safety reasons, the original lap belts were replaced with modern 3-point shoulder/lap belts.
America's drag strips grew in popularity during the 1950s and 1960s with the 'run whatcha brung' philosophy which became a breeding ground for new ideas for going faster and quicker. Bob and Shirley Sullivan of Kansas City, Kansas were among many innovators who built a number of drag cars and were considered pioneers in all-steel production body, nitromethane fueled drag cars.
Each of the vehicles Bob campaigned were impressive performers, such as this Plymouth, Pandemonium V, a virtually stock 1965 Barracuda weighing about 3700 lbs that turned amazing 1/4 mile times of 9.78 seconds at 160 mph that year.
Blasts down the 1320 with billowing clouds of smoke from massive slicks spinning the entire length of the drag strip were awe inspiring for any car, especially a full bodied vehicle. Power came from a 392 cubic-inch Chrysler Hemi engine characteristic of Top Fuel Dragsters of the time, and with direct drive (no transmission) also from TF/D, engine output was in the range of 2,000 horsepower. Initially with no class in National Hot Rod Association drag racing, Pandemonium V became an exhibition car that was far faster and quicker than typical Super Stock and A/Factory Experimental cars.
Super/Xperimental Stock class was invented for drag cars of this type, a class featuring the most innovative cars available that evolved into 'Funny Cars' the next year, even more innovative with tubular frames like short wheelbase dragsters and lift-up fiberglass bodies. Pandemonium V was among the history making class of 1965 drag race cars.
The 2-door Sport Hardtop Barracuda, which had been introduced in 1964, received only minor changes for 1965. The 'Valiant' nameplate was no longer found on the exterior of the vehicle and a 'Formula S' competition package became available. The Formula S came with a 273 cubic-inch four-barrel V8 engine offering 235 horsepower. Additionally, they had heavy-duty rear springs, a heavy-duty torsion bar setup in the front, sway bars, wide wheel rims, Goodyear Blue Streak wide oval tires, rally stripes, and 'Formula S' medallions.
In total, 64,596 examples were built in 1965. By Daniel Vaughan | Jul 2015
The first series of the Barracuda was produced from 1964 through 1969, distinguished by its A-body construction. From 1970 through 1974 the second series was produced using an E-body construction.
In 1964, Plymouth offered the Barracuda as an option of the Valiant model line, meaning it wore both the Valiant and Barracuda emblems. The base offering was a 225 cubic-inch six-cylinder engine that produced with 180 horsepower. An optional Commando 273 cubic-inch eight-cylinder engine was available with a four-barrel carburetor, high-compression heads and revised cams. The vehicle was outfitted with a live rear axle and semi-elliptic springs. Unfortunately, the Barracuda was introduced at the same time, separated by only two weeks, as the Ford Mustang. The Mustang proved to be the more popular car outselling the Valiant Barracuda by a ratio of 8 to 1.
The interior was given a floor-shifter, vinyl semi-bucket seats, and rear seating. The rear seats folded down allowing ample space for cargo.
By 1967, Plymouth redesigned the Barracuda and added a coupe and convertible to the model line-up. To accommodate larger engines, the engine bay was enlarged. There were multiple engine offerings that ranged in configuration and horsepower ratings. The 225 cubic-inch six-cylinder was the base engine while the 383 cubic-inch 8-cylinder was the top-of-the-line producing 280 horsepower. That was impressive, especially considering the horsepower to weight ratio. Many chose the 340 cubic-inch eight-cylinder because the 383 and Hemi were reported to make the Barracuda nose-heavy while the 340 offered optimal handling.
In 1968 Plymouth offered a Super Stock 426 Hemi package. The lightweight body and race-tuned Hemi were perfect for the drag racing circuit. Glass was replaced with lexan, non-essential items were removed, and lightweight seats with aluminum brackets replaced the factory bench, and were given a sticker that indicated the car was not to be driven on public highways but for supervised acceleration trials. The result was a car that could run the quarter mile in the ten-second range.
For 1969 a limited number of 440 Barracudas were produced, giving the vehicle a zero-to-sixty time of around 5.6 seconds.
In 1970 the Barracuda were restyled but shared similarities to the 1967 through 1969 models. The Barracuda was available in convertible and hardtop configuration; the fastback was no longer offered. Sales were strong in 1970 but declined in the years that followed. The muscle car era was coming to a close due to the rising government safety and emission regulations and insurance premiums. Manufacturers were forced to detune their engines. The market segment was slowly shifting from muscle-cars to luxury automobiles. 1974 was the final year Plymouth offered the Barracuda. By Daniel Vaughan | Aug 2010
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