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Greg's List: Plymouth Barracuda
By Greg Warner

Classic Car Articles by Greg Warner Ah, the Plymouth Barracuda, or "Cuda" for short, an aggressive sounding name for a car (and a pretty mean-ass fish, which is a deep-water predator, with alotta sharp teeth!) which unfortunately, was only produced for 11 years, from 1964 to 1974. The Plymouth Barracuda started out as a sporty, compact, fastback model based on their A-body or "Valiant" chassis, as an entry-level or secondary vehicle for the economy-minded, American family of the day. There were three generations of the Plymouth Barracuda during it's 11-year production run, the first (1964 to 1966) and second (1967 to 1969) generations were based on their A-body platform (Valiant chassis), while the third generation was built on a totally new, specifically-built chassis, referred to as the E-body. The release date of the Plymouth Valiant "Barracuda" model was April 1, 1964 (actually making it the first real "Pony" car model), just two weeks before Ford made an early release of their infamous 1965 Mustang "Pony" car.

The First generation Barracudas came with a huge (14.4 sq. ft) rear "fastback" glass area, designed in cahoots with the PPG Company (Pittsburgh Paint and Glass) and at the time was the largest "wrapped" (curved down to meet the rear body panels) glass area ever installed on an American-made production vehicle! All models were of the 2-door coupe design with that distinctive "fastback" glass area. The 1964 Barracudas were offered with either a standard "slant" 6, 170 c.i. (101 hp) or 225 c.i. (145 hp), 6-cylinder engines or the Chrysler Corporations' 273 c.i. (called the "LA" design), V8 with a 2-bbl carburetor which produced 180 hp. This would also be the only year with the optional, dash-mounted, push-button, 3-speed, automatic "Torqueflite" transmission. The standard transmission was the 3-speed ("3" on the tree) manual transmission. For 1965, the Barracudas remained cosmetically the same but they had a few changes under the hood and in the interior departments. Also, to give the Barracuda it's own identity, Plymouth decided to drop all "Valiant" badging from the vehicle in order to keep the "Barracuda" model exclusive. The "base" engine would now be the 225 c.i., 6-cyl (in all U.S. models), while the 273 c.i., V8 with 2-bbl carburetor, would remain as the entry-level V8. An optional "Commando" version of the 273 c.i. V8, would now be offered, which produced 235 hp via a 4-bbl carburetor/intake, higher compression ratio, a special camshaft with solid lifters and some fine "tuning". A "Formula S" package was added which included things like the 273 c.i., "Commando" V8 engine, a tachometer, special badging, a "sportier" suspension system and larger tires and rims. Also made available, later in the production year, was a factory-installed, air-conditioning system and front disc brakes. The 1966 Barracuda would receive a minor facelift including new front end sheet metal, new grillework, larger bumpers and some new tail lights. The interior sported a new dashboard which included areas for the optional tachometer and oil pressure gauge and for the first time, a center console was an option. Also prominent was the new "fish" logo along with the Barracuda nameplate.

Second generation Plymouth Barracudas came with all new and exclusive sheet metal (not sharing with the "Valiant" models, as before) and was now available as a "notchback" coupe and also, a convertible (all were still 2-door vehicles). The wheelbase was extended by 2" to 108" and the exposed, "racing-style", gas cap was located on the left rear 1/4 panel. Even though the exterior was all new and exclusive, the "Barracuda" still shared many components with it's sister "Valiant" models, to keep manufacturing costs down. Some of the unique new design features were more rounded looking body panels, a "concave" deck panel at the rear/trunk area and the rear fastback glass area was more flattened out. As for the enlarged engine compartment area, the 225 c.i. "Slant" 6-cyl was still standard, the 273 c.i. V8 with 2-bbl or 4-bbl carburetor options and newly available, but rarely-ordered, was the 383 c.i. "Big-Block" Super Commando V8 powerplant, which was only available with the "Formula S" package. For 1968 the exterior remained basically the same except for the federally mandated addition of side-marker lights. The 273 c.i. V8 was replaced with the 318 c.i., V8, and a powerful 340 c.i. V8 with 4-bbl carburetor was offered as an option. You could still opt for the 383 c.i. "Big Block" Super Commando V8, with approximately 300 hp, if the mood struck you. There was also the very special (as only about 50 were made), Hurst-built "Performance" editions which housed a 426 c.i. "Hemi" V8 with two 4-bbl carburetors and was designed specifically for "SuperStock" drag racing! This monster was capable of running the 1/4 mile in the mid-10's, right off the showroom floor! Wow, really? A production car? Yep, made and sold by the manufacturer in 1968! It did, however, come with a sticker/disclaimer that stated something to the effect that "this car is not for use on public roads"! (Yeah, right, got it officer!) Again for 1969, there were minimal changes to the general appearance but keeping with Plymouth's emphasis on building and supplying performance minded vehicles for their performance minded clientele, some powerhouse drivetrains were available to meet your desire. In keeping up with the times, a "Mod Top" option was offered which included a "floral" (like "flower-power" man) designed vinyl roof with matching seats and door panels. The 'Cuda package was born, an based on the popular "FormulaS" package, it was all business and set the tone for the release of the all new 'Cuda for 1970!

The third generation Plymouth Barracuda had come into it's own and was a force to be reckoned with. The fastback was gone for good and the coupe and convertible models would carry on. The Barracuda was now 100% removed from any association/sharing with the Valiant models and was a stand alone vehicle built on the new "E" Body platform. Three models of the new performance based vehicle were now available, including the base model Barracuda, the Gran Coupe (a more luxury-inspired model) and the Sport and high-performance model, 'Cuda. This new chassis design was a shorter, wider version of their "B" bodied cars (Road Runner, etc) and had, of course, a larger engine bay (reportedly to more easily house the 426 c.i., "Hemi" V8 for true production vehicles). Another, smaller 198 c.i., "Slant" 6-cyl engine was added to the base 225 c.i. version, and over six different versions of V8's were available including, 318 c.i., 340 c.i., 383 c.i. Super Commando 2-bbl with 290 hp or 4-bbl with 330 hp in base and Gran Coupes, 335 hp in 'Cuda models as it's base engine, 440 c.i. 4-bbl, 440 c.i. 6-bbl (3-dueces) or 426 c.i. "Hemi" with two 4-bbl. The 440 c.i. and 426 c.i. "Hemi" engines were always complimented with a heavy-duty suspension package and strategic, structural reinforcements to ensure the power got to the ground. For 1971 the Plymouth Barracudas would get a new grille (also, the only year that they would have four headlamps and faux "gills" on the upper-rear, front fenders of the 'Cuda models), new tail lights, some new trim options and seats, but otherwise, they would remain cosmetically the same with most powerplant offerings still available except for the 440 c.i., 4-bbl engine. Some desirable options on 1970 and 1971 cars was the "Shaker" hood, Dana "60" rear axle, various graphics packages and some interestingly, vivid colors. (Note: only 11 of the 1971 Hemi 'Cuda convertibles were produced and some examples of these have sold for over two million USD at auction!). The 1972 through 1974 would remain basically the same (except for available powerplants, no more big blocks were available, how sad) after the upgrades in 1972 to the grille, switch back to dual headlamps and new, circular, "quad" tail lights, incorporating the back-up lamps. Some other minor changes over the final three years would be conforming to new federal standards pertaining to safety, but mostly to the front and rear bumpers. Also, over the years, and mainly due to tougher emissions standards and somewhat due to increasing insurance rates, the oil embargo etc., etc. the vehicle became extinct on April 1, 1974 (exactly 10 years to the date after its' start) as they removed the vicious bite from the venerable 'Cudas!

What group was famous for singing the song "Barracuda" which was released in 1977? (Three years after the end of production for the awesome musclecar of the same name!)

Answer: Heart!

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