Plymouth BarracudaThe Plymouth Barracuda is a two-door pony car manufactured by Plymouth from 1964 to 1974.
The first-generation Barracuda, a hardtop fastback, was based on the A-body platform (shared with the Valiant). The first generation car featured distinctive wraparound back glass and was marketed from 1964 to 1966.
The second-generation Barracuda, built from 1967 to 1969, though still Valiant-based, was heavily redesigned. Body designs were now available in fastback, hardtop coupé, and convertible versions.
The third generation, offered from 1970 to 1974, was no longer based on the A-body, but on the Chrysler E-body. The completely new design was similar to the Dodge Challenger and available in hardtop and convertible body styles. The Barracuda was discontinued after the 1974 model year.
1964During development of the Barracuda, one of the worst kept secrets was Ford's plan to introduce a new sporty compact car based on the inexpensive Falcon chassis and running gear (which was eventually released as the 1964 1/2 Mustang); the extent of the other changes was not known. Chrysler stylist Irv Ritchie sketched a fastback version of the compact Valiant, as this body style "has always been considered sporty." Budgets were limited, but the company's executives wanted to have an entry in this quickly growing sporty-compact car market segment and to capture some of the sales from Chevrolet's Corvair Monza models. Plymouth's executives had wanted to name the new model Panda, an idea unpopular with its designers. In the end, John Samsen's suggestion of Barracuda prevailed.
Based on Chrysler's A-body, the Barracuda debuted in fastback form on April 1, 1964. The new model used the Valiant's 106 in wheelbase and the Valiant hood, headlamp bezels, windshield, vent windows, quarter panels, doors, A-pillar, and bumpers; the trunk and some of the glass was new. Utilizing the same hybrid design approach as Ford did turning its Falcon into the Mustang significantly reduced Plymouth's development and tooling cost and time for the new model. The greatest effort was put into creating its distinguishing 14.4 sqft rear window, a collaboration between Pittsburgh Plate Glass (PPG) and Chrysler designers that created the largest ever installed on a standard production car to that time.
Powertrains were identical to the Valiant's, including two versions of Chrysler's slant-6 six-cylinder engine. The standard-equipment engine had a displacement of 170 CID and an output of 101 bhp; the 225 CID option raised the power output to 145 bhp.
The highest-power option for 1964 was Chrysler's all-new 273 CID LA V8. A compact and relatively light engine equipped with a two-barrel carburetor, it produced 180 bhp. The Barracuda sold for a base price of US$2,512 ($ today).
The 1964 model year was the first for the Barracuda and also the last year for push-button control of the optional Torqueflite automatic transmission. It also marked the first use of the smaller "TorqueFlite 6" (A904) transmission behind a V8.
In the marketplace, the Barracuda was "obviously" a fastback version of the Valiant that had a frugal family transportation image. The sales brochure for the first Barracudas pitched it as a car "for people of all ages and interests." The more "sporty" Mustang was marketed with abundant advertising to young professionals and with its youthful image proved widely successful following its mid-1964 introduction. This became known as the "pony car" niche of modestly appointed compact-sized sedans and convertibles, which came with standard 6-cylinder engines and basic interiors, but could be outfitted with powerful V8s and "custom" appointments and luxury features. The success of the Mustang has long obscured the fact that the Barracuda actually predated the Ford's introduction by two weeks. The abbreviated sales season for the 1964 Barracuda totaled 23,443 units compared to the 126,538 Mustangs sold during the same time.
In 1965, the 225 slant-6 became the base engine for the U.S. market, though the 170 remained the base engine in Canada.
New options were introduced for the Barracuda as the competition among pony cars intensified. The 273 engine was made available as an upgraded Commando version with a four-barrel carburetor, 10.5:1 compression, and a more aggressive camshaft, still with solid tappets. These and other upgrades increased the engine's output to 235 bhp.
Also in 1965, the Formula 'S' package was introduced. It included the Commando V8 engine, suspension upgrades, larger wheels and tires, special emblems, and a tachometer. Disc brakes and factory-installed air conditioning became available after the start of the 1965 model year.
For 1966, the Barracuda received new taillamps, new front sheet metal, and a new instrument panel. The latter had room for oil pressure and tachometer gauges on models so equipped. The 1966 front sheet metal which, except for the grille, was shared with the Valiant, and gave a more rectilinear contour to the fenders. Deluxe models featured fender-top turn signal indicators with a stylized fin motif. The bumpers were larger, and the grille featured a strong grid theme. A center console was optional for the first time.
Although the first Barracudas were heavily based on the contemporary Valiants, Plymouth wanted them perceived as distinct models. Consequently, the "Valiant" chrome script that appeared on the model's trunk lid was phased out at the end of the 1965 model year in the U.S. market, and the large stylized "V" trim above the deck lid was changed to a unique Barracuda fish logo for 1966, though in markets such as Canada and South Africa, where Valiant was a marque in its own right, the car remained badged as Valiant Barracuda until the A-body Barracuda was discontinued.
1967–1969The second-generation Barracuda, now a 108 in wheelbase A-body, still shared many components with the Valiant but was stylishly redesigned with model-specific sheet metal, and a convertible and hardtop coupe joining the original fastback offering.The new Barracuda was chiefly the work of John E. Herlitz and John Samsen, with Coke-bottle side contours and heavily revised front and rear ends. Design cues included a concave rear deck panel, wider wheel openings, curved side glass, and S-curved roof pillars on the hardtop.
The rear portion of the roof on the fastback coupe was more streamlined, and the back glass, raked at a substantially horizontal angle, was much smaller compared with that of the previous model. Also, the use of chrome trim on the external sheet metal was more restrained.
During this time the first U.S. Federal auto safety standards were phased in, and Chrysler's response to the introduction of each phase distinguishes each model year of the second-generation Barracuda:
As the pony-car class became established and competition increased, Plymouth began to revise the Barracuda's engine options.In 1967, while the 225 CID slant-6 was still the base engine, the V8 options ranged from the two- and four-barrel versions of the 273 CID to a seldom-ordered 383 CID "B" big-block, rated at 280 bhp, the latter available only with the Formula S package.Some points of interest with the 1967 Cudas were that the front and rear bumpers were identical. They have the same license plate indent and mounting bracket.
In 1968, the 273 was replaced by the 318 CID LA engine as the smallest V8 available, and the new 340 CID LA four-barrel was released. The 383 Super Commando engine was upgraded with the intake manifold, camshaft, and cylinder heads from the Road Runner and Super Bee, but the more restrictive exhaust manifolds specific to the A-body cars limited its output to 300 bhp.
Also in 1968, Chrysler made approximately fifty fastback Barracudas equipped with the 426 CID Hemi for Super Stock drag racing. These cars were assembled by Hurst Performance and featured items such as lightweight Chemcor side glass, fiberglass front fenders, hood scoop, lightweight seats, sound deadener, and other street features such as rear seats omitted. An included sticker indicated that the car was not for use on public roads; it could run the quarter-mile in the mid-tens in 1968.For the South African export market, a 190 bhp high-performance version of the 225 slant-6 called Charger Power was offered with 9.3:1 compression, two-barrel carburetor, more aggressive camshaft, and low-restriction exhaust system. A handful of Savage GTs were also built from the second-generation Barracuda.
In 1969, Plymouth placed an increased emphasis on performance. A new option was the Mod Top, a vinyl roof covering with a floral motif, available in 1969 and 1970. Plymouth sold it as a package with seat and door panel inserts done in the same pattern.
The 1969 version of the 383 engine was upgraded to increase power output to 330 bhp, and a new trim package called 'Cuda was released. The 'Cuda, based on the Formula S option, was available with either the 340, 383 and, new for 1969, the 440 Super Commando V8. The successor for this generation of the Barracuda as a sporty Valiant was the 1970 Plymouth Duster.
The redesign for the 1970 Barracuda removed all its previous commonality with the Valiant. The original fastback design was deleted from the line and the Barracuda now consisted of coupe and convertible models. The all-new model, styled by John E. Herlitz, was built on a shorter, wider version of Chrysler's existing B platform, called the E-body. Sharing this platform was the newly launched Dodge Challenger; however no exterior sheet metal interchanged between the two cars, and the Challenger, at 110 in, had a wheelbase that was 2 in longer than the Barracuda.
The E-body Barracuda was now "able to shake the stigma of 'economy car'." Three versions were offered for 1970 and 1971: the base Barracuda (BH), the luxury oriented Gran Coupe (BP), and the sport model 'Cuda (BS). Beginning mid year 1970, and ending with the 1971 model, there also was the Barracuda Coupe (A93), a low-end model which included the 198ci Slant Six as a base engine, lower grade interior, and (like other Coupe series Chrysler Corp. offered that year) had fixed quarter glass instead of roll-down rear passenger windows. The high-performance models were marketed as 'Cuda deriving from the 1969 option. The E-body's engine bay was larger than that of the previous A-body, facilitating the release of Chrysler's 426 CID Hemi for the regular retail market.For 1970 and 1971, the Barracuda and Barracuda Gran Coupe had two six-cylinder engines available — a new 198 CID version of the slant-6, and the 225 — as well as three different V8s: the 318ci, the 383ci with two-barrel carburetor and single exhaust, and the 383ci with four-barrel carburetor and dual exhaust 330 hp SAE gross. The Cuda had the 383ci 335 hp SAE gross (same as Dodge's 383 Magnum) as the standard engine. It also had the 440ci four-barrel Super Commando, the 440ci six-barrel Super Commando Six Pak, and the 426ci Hemi. The 440- and Hemi-equipped cars received upgraded suspension components and structural reinforcements to help transfer the power to the road.In 1970 the power plant options offered to the customer were: #275 hp (200 kW) SAE gross in the 340-4V. #335 hp SAE gross in the high performance 383-4V, #375 hp SAE gross in the 440-4V, #390 hp SAE gross in the 440-6V, and #425 hp SAE gross in the 426-8V. Other Barracuda options included decal sets, hood modifications, and some unusual "high impact" colors such as "Lime Light", "Bahama Yellow", "Tor Red", "Lemon Twist", "Curious Yellow", "Vitamin C", "In-Violet", "Sassy Grass" and "Moulin Rouge".
Swede Savage and Dan Gurney raced identical factory-sponsored AAR (All American Racers) 'Cudas in the 1970 Trans-Am Series. The cars qualified for three pole positions but did not win any Trans-Am races; the highest finish was second at Road America. A street version of the AAR 'Cuda was produced, powered by the 340 CID "Six Pack" (three two-barrel carburetors) engine. Four 1970 Hemi 'Cudas were also successfully raced by Chrysler France, from 1970 until 1973. The works team director Henrí Chemin piloted the first car, and then sold it on to friend and privateer J. F. Mas who went on to race it for another two years. This Hemi 'Cuda won four French Group 1 class championships, three on track and one in hill-climbing.The Barracuda was changed slightly for 1971, with a new grille and taillights, seat, and trim differences. This would be the only year that the Barracuda would have four headlights (which the Challenger had for all five years of their concurrent run), and also the only year of the fender "gills" on the 'Cuda model.
The 1971 Barracuda engine options would remain the same as that of the 1970 model, except that the 340 6-Bbl was gone, and the four-barrel carbureted 440 V8 engine was no longer on the option list, but could be had via a special order and perhaps a dozen cars were built with it installed; otherwise the 440-powered Barracudas had a six-barrel carburetor setup instead.
In 1971 the big-block power options offered to the customer were: #275 hp SAE Gross in the 383-2V #300 hp SAE Gross in the 383-4V #385 hp SAE Gross in the 440-6V #425 hp SAE Gross in the 426-8V
In 1970 and 1971 only, the shaker hood (option code N96), elastomeric (rubber) colored bumpers, and the Spicer-built Dana 60 rear axle were available. The shaker hood was available with 340, 383, 440 four-barrel, 440 six-barrel, and 426 Hemi engines. The elastomeric (rubber) colored bumpers were available either as a front-only option, option code A21, or as a front and rear combination, option code A22. The heavy-duty (and heavy) Dana 60, with a 9.75 in ring gear, was standard equipment with manual transmissions and 440 six-barrel and 426 Hemi engines, and was optional on those with the automatic transmission.
1972-1974With a new grille and single headlights (very similar to the 1970 model) and four circular taillights for 1972, the Barracuda would remain basically unchanged through 1974, with new body side stripes, and minor changes to the bumpers to conform with federal impact standards being the only significant variations. Big block engines (383, 440, & 426 Hemi), heavy duty suspensions and rear axles, and large/wide tires mounted on 15" x 7" wheels were no longer offered. Additionally; the convertible model was dropped; though a few late build 1971 convertibles were built with 1972 grills and back end panels and provided to Paramount Studios for TV and movie work; being seen on Mannix, The Brady Bunch and other shows. Convenience and comfort items such as power seats, power windows, and upgraded interior (leather seats and plush carpeting) options were dropped, though heavy-duty air conditioning and a sun roof could still be ordered. For 1972 only, three engine choices were offered: a 225 six, the 318 (base engine for both 'Cuda and Barracuda), and a revised 340 detuned to meet emission standards. In addition, all three were tuned to run on low/no-lead gas and were power rated on the NET (installed) method. Three transmissions were offered: a 3-speed manual, the Torqueflite automatic, and the Hurst shifter equipped four-speed. For 1973 federally mandated safety bumpers were added front and rear, and the 225 six was dropped, with the 318 and 340 V8s being the only engine choices. For late production 1973 cars, and for 1974 a slightly more powerful 360 V8 (245 E bodyhp) replaced the 340. As since 1970; optional was a four-speed manual transmission (equipped with a Hurst shifter) mated to a performance ratio (3.55 to 1) rear axle for the 340 and 360 engines, though as many as three cars (in both 1973 and 1974) were built with the 318 engine and Hurst 4-speed thru special orders or factory errors.
As with other American vehicles of the time, there was a progressive decrease in the Barracuda's performance. To meet increasingly stringent safety and exhaust emission regulations, big-block engine options were discontinued. The remaining engines were detuned year by year to reduce exhaust emissions, which also reduced their power output. There was also an increase in weight as bumpers became larger and, starting in 1970, E-body doors were equipped with heavy steel side-impact protection beams. Higher fuel prices following the 1973 oil crisis and performance-car insurance surcharges deterred many buyers as the interest in high-performance cars waned. Sales of pony cars were on the decline. Sales had dropped dramatically after 1970, and while 1973 showed a sales uptick, Barracuda production ended 1 April 1974, ten years to the day after it had begun.
Engine choices by Chrysler for the 1970-73 Barracuda included the following:
SAE gross hp ratings were tested with no accessories, no air cleaner, or open headers. In 1971, compression ratios were reduced in performance engines, except the 426 cu in and the high performance 440 cu in, to accommodate regular gasoline. 1971 was the last year for the 426 Hemi.
Chrysler had plans to continue the 1970 Dodge Challenger T/A for 1971, even publishing advertisements for a 1971 Dodge Challenger T/A. However, no 1971 Dodge Challenger T/A was made. Similarly, no 1971 Plymouth AAR Cuda was made.
The 383 Magnum was the standard engine for the 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T, 1970 Dodge Coronet Super Bee, 1970 Plymouth Cuda, and 1970 Plymouth Road Runner; it was not available in any other models.
After 1974A 1975 Barracuda was planned before the end of the 1970-74 model cycle. Plymouth engineers sculpted two separate concepts out of clay, both featuring a Superbird-inspired aerodynamic body, and eventually reached a consensus upon which an operational concept car could be built. Due to a rapidly changing automotive market, the concepts were scrapped, and the 1975 Barracuda was not put into production. The Barracuda was abandoned after 1974, a victim of the 1973 energy crisis.
In 2007, Motor Trend magazine reported a rumor that Chrysler was considering reviving the Barracuda in 2009. A new Barracuda would've been badged as a Chrysler, due to the Plymouth brand having been phased out in 2001. However, the Barracuda has not been reintroduced alongside the third generation Dodge Challenger. Rumors of the Barracuda making a comeback were brought up again by Motor Trend in 2012 when reports leaked that the Barracuda would come back in 2014 under the SRT Marque, replacing the Challenger instead of being built alongside it. It was also stated the car would not be of a retro design. Ultimately, the SRT division was re-consolidated under the Dodge banner and the Challenger remained in production without a Barracuda replacement.
After years of silence, an all-new Barracuda, now under the Dodge brand, was shown to FCA dealers along with other future vehicles on August 25, 2015. Based on stretched underpinnings of the rear-drive Alfa Romeo Giulia, it is rumored to be powered by a turbocharged V6 and arrive within the 2019 model year.
CollectibilityThe Barracuda (particularly the 1970–1974 E-Body cars) is a collectible car today, with the high-performance versions and convertibles commanding the highest prices. The small number of Barracudas remaining in existence is the result of low buyer interest (and low production/sales) when the vehicles were new. The remaining cars of any condition are rare, and the outstanding examples fetch high appraisal values today. Original Hemi super stock Barracudas (and similarly configured Dodge Darts) are now prized collector vehicles, with factory (unaltered) cars commanding high prices.
The 1971 HemiCuda convertible is now considered one of the most valuable collectible muscle cars. Only thirteen were built, seven of which were sold domestically. The most recent public sale was at the June 2014 Mecum auction in Seattle, where a blue on blue 4-speed sold for US$3.5 million (plus buyers premium). Several replica cars were created to look like HemiCudas and driven by the title character in the late-1990s police procedural Nash Bridges. None of these replica cars had a Hemi V8 under the hood.