The Plymouth Barracuda is a 2-door car that was manufactured by the
Plymouth division of the Chrysler Corporation from 1964 through 1974.
Barracuda 1971 Commercial
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The first-generation Barracuda, a fastback A-body coupe based on the Plymouth
Valiant, had a distinctive wraparound back glass and was available from 1964 to
The second-generation 1967 – 1969 Barracuda, though still Valiant-based, was
heavily redesigned. Second-generation A-body cars were available in fastback,
notchback, and convertible versions.
The 1970 – 1974 E-body Barracuda, no longer Valiant-based, was available as a
coupe and a convertible, both of which were very different from the previous
1969 Plymouth Barracuda 440
Automotive trends in the early-mid 1960s had all the US manufacturers looking
at making sporty compact cars. Chrysler's A-body Plymouth Valiant was chosen for
the company's efforts in this direction.
Ford's Mustang, which significantly outsold the Barracuda, gave to this type
of vehicle its colloquial name "pony car", but the Barracuda fastback's release
on 1 April 1964 beat the Mustang by two weeks.
Plymouth's executives had wanted to name the car Panda, an idea that
was unpopular with the car's designers. In the end, John Samsen's suggestion of
Barracuda was selected.
The Barracuda used the Valiant's 106 in wheelbase and the Valiant hood,
headlamp bezels, windshield, vent windows, quarter panels and bumpers; all other
sheet metal and glass was new. This hybrid design approach significantly reduced
the development and tooling cost and time for the new model.
The fastback body shape was achieved primarily with a giant backlight, which
wrapped down to the fender line. Pittsburgh Plate Glass (PPG) collaborated with
Chrysler designers to produce this 14.4 ft² (1,33 m²) rear window, the largest
ever installed on a standard production car up to that time.
The Barracuda was able to return the Valiant's favor the next year, when the
fenders and tail lamps that had been introduced on the 1964 Barracuda were used
on the whole 1965 Valiant range except for the wagon.
Powertrains were identical to the Valiant's, including two versions of
Chrysler's slant-6 six-cylinder engine. The standard-equipment engine had a
piston displacement of 170 cu in (2.8 L) and an output of 101 bhp (75.3 kW); the
225 cu in (3.7 L) option raised the power output to 145 bhp (108.1 kW).
The highest power option for 1964 was Chrysler's all-new 273 cu in (4.5 L) LA
V8. A compact and relatively light engine equipped with a 2-barrel carburetor,
it produced 180 bhp (134.2 kW).
The Barracuda sold for a base price of $2,512 (USD).
1964 was not only the first year for the Barracuda, but also the last year
for push-button control of the optional Torqueflite automatic transmission, so
1964 models were the only Barracudas so equipped.
In 1965, the 225 slant-6 became the base engine in the US market, though the
170 remained the base engine in Canada.
New options were introduced for the Barracuda as the competition between pony
cars intensified. The 273 engine was made available as an upgraded Commando
version with a 4-barrel carburetor, 10.5:1 compression, a more aggressive
camshaft with solid tappets. These and other upgrades increased the engine's
output to 235 bhp (175.2 kW).
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 taillights, new front sheet metal, and a
new dashboard. 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, 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.
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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 1964 model's trunk lid was phased out on the
1965 model in the US market. For 1966, a Barracuda-specific stylized fish logo
was introduced, 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.
In profile, the 1967 Hillman Hunter-based Sunbeam Rapier Fastback coupe from
Chrysler's United Kingdom company (the former Rootes Group), resembles the
1964–66 Barracuda. However the Rapier's designer, Roy Axe, said that there was
no direct connection.
The second-generation Barracuda, now a 108 inches (2,743 mm) wheelbase A-body
still sharing many components with the Valiant, was fully redesigned with
Barracuda-specific sheet metal styling and its own range of models including
convertibles as well as fastback and notchback hardtops.
1967 (2nd Generation) Plymouth Barracuda
convertible. 1968 fenders because they were free; 1969 side stripe just because
I like it better.
The new Barracuda was styled chiefly by John E. Herlitz and John Samsen.
It was less rectilinear than the Valiant, with coke-bottle side contours and
heavily revised front and rear end styling.
Design cues included a concave rear deck panel, wider wheel openings, curved
side glass, and S-curved roof pillars on the notchback.
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 frame 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:
- 1967: no sidemarker lights or reflectors.
- 1968: round sidemarker lights without reflectors.
- 1969: rectangular sidemarker reflectors without lights.
As the pony-car class became established and competition increased, Plymouth
began to revise the Barracuda's engine options.
In 1967, while the 225 slant-6 was still the base engine, the V8 options
ranged from the 2-barrel and 4-barrel versions of the 273 to a seldom-ordered
383 cu in (6.3 L) "B" big-block, the latter available only with the
In 1968 the 273 was replaced by the 318 cu in (5.2 L) LA engine as the
smallest V8 available, and the new 340 cu in (5.6 L) LA 4bbl 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 50 fastback Barracudas equipped
with the 426 cu in (7 L) Hemi for Super Stock drag racing.
These cars were assembled by Hurst Performance and featured lightweight items
such as lightweight Chemcor side glass, fiberglass front fenders, and hood with
scoop, lightweight seats, and sound deadener and other street equipment such as
rear seats omitted. An included sticker indicated that the car was not for use
on public roads; it could run the quarter in the mid 10s in 1968.
Today, original Hemi super stock Barracudas (and similarly configured Dodge
Darts) are highly prized collector vehicles, with original unaltered cars
commanding high prices
For the South African export market, a 190 bhp (140 kW) high-performance
version of the 225 slant-6 called Charger Power was offered with 9.3:1
compression, 2-barrel carburetor, more aggressive camshaft, and low-restriction
A handful of Savage GTs were also built from the second-generation Barracuda.
In 1969 Plymouth placed increased emphasis on providing and marketing
performance. A new option was the Mod Top, a vinyl roof covering with a
floral motif, available 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 (246.1 kW), 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 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 also the newly
launched Dodge Challenger; however, no sheet metal interchanged between the two
cars, and the Challenger had a 2-inch (51 mm) longer wheelbase.
The E-body Barracuda was now "able to shake the stigma of 'economy car'."
Three versions were offered: the base Barracuda (BH), the luxury oriented Gran
Coupe (BP), and the sport model 'Cuda (BS). 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 cu in (7 L) Hemi for the regular retail market.
Two six-cylinder engines were available — a new 198 cu in (3.2 L) version of
the slant-6, and the 225 — as well as six different V8s: the 318, 340, 383( 290
h.p. two barrel & 330 h.p. Super Commando in Barracuda & Gran Coupe, 330
---arguably 335 h.p.--- as the 'Cuda model's base motor ) 440-4bbl, 440-6bbl,
and the 426 Hemi. The 440- and
Hemi-equipped cars received upgraded suspension components and structural
reinforcements to help transfer the power to the road.
Other Barracuda options included decal sets, hood modifications, and some
unusual "high impact" colors such as "Vitamin C", "In-Violet", and "Moulin
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
2nd at Road America.
1970 Plymouth Barracuda
A street version of the AAR 'Cuda was produced, powered by the 340 cu in
(5.6 L) "six pack" (three two-barrel carburettors) engine.
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, 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 the 4-barrel carburetted 440 engine was not available; all
440-powered Barracudas had a six-barrel carburettor setup instead. The 426 Hemi
remained available, and the 1971 HemiCuda convertible is now considered one of
the most valuable collectible muscle cars. Only eleven were built, seven of
which were sold domestically, and examples of these cars have sold for US$2
In 1970 and 1971, the shaker hood and the Spicer-built Dana 60 rear
axle were available. The shaker hood was available with 340, 383, 440-4bbl and
440-6bbl, and 426 Hemi engines. The heavy-duty (and heavy) Dana 60, with a 9¾ in
ring gear, was standard equipment with manual transmissions and 440-6bbl and 426
Hemi engines, and was optional on those with the automatic transmission.
With a new grille, dual headlights and four circular taillights for 1972, the
Barracuda would remain basically unchanged through 1974, with minor changes to
the bumpers to conform with federal impact standards being the only significant
variations. Big Block engines (383, 440, & 426 Hemi) were no longer offered.
Additionally, convenience/comfort items such as power windows, and interior
upgrade options were dropped. For 1972 only three engine choices were offered: a
225 six, the 318 (base engine for both 'Cuda and Barracuda)and 340. The 225 was
dropped after 1972, with the 318 and 340 (replaced by the 360 for 1974) being
the only engine choices.
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, all E body doors were equipped with heavy
steel side-impact protection beams. Higher fuel prices and performance-car
insurance surcharges deterred many buyers as the interest in high performance
cars waned. Sales had dropped dramatically after 1970, and while 1973 showed a
sales uptick, Barracuda production ended April 1, 1974, ten years to the day
after it had begun.
A 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 first energy crisis.
In 2007, Motor Trend magazine reported a rumour that Chrysler was considering
reviving the Barracuda in 2009
However, the Barracuda has not been reintroduced alongside the Dodge Challenger.
The Barracuda is a collectable car today, particularly high-performance
versions and convertibles. The small number of Barracudas is the result of low
buyer interest when the vehicles were new; therefore, outstanding examples fetch
high appraisal values today.
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