History of the Plymouth Barracuda: A Muscle Car in Search of Itself
Our four-part Plymouth Barracuda series takes a look at the history of an often forgotten muscle car. Part one took a look at the arrival of the cult classic muscle car, part two, we take a closer look at how the Barracuda evolved into the performance car many fans know and love today. RELATED: Read Part 1 Of the History of the Plymouth Barracuda
The Second Generation (1967-1969)
In its second generation (1967-1969), the Plymouth Barracuda moved away from the Valiant’s shadow to create its own identity. The’ 67 Barracuda included its own distinct sheet-metal design and a full range of style options, including fastback, notch back, and convertible.
Gone was the massive rear window of the first generation, replaced with smaller, leaner glass that offered a much sleeker profile. The designers cut back on the amount of chrome and re-did the front and rear ends. They added larger wheel openings, rounded side glass, and, for the notch back, S-shaped roof pillars.
The soul of a muscle car is of course its engine. The Barracuda started 1967 with the 225 cu. in. slant six as its base powerplant. But Plymouth added V8 options that included a 273 cu. in. motor and a gargantuan 383 cu. in. big block that was exclusive to the Formula S package.
RELATED: See More of the 1968 Plymouth Barracuda
In 1968 the 273 cu. in. engine was dropped altogether in favor of a 318 cu. in. V8 as the default choice. For a little more money, buyers could upgrade to the 340 cu. in. version with four-barrel carb. The 383 stuck around in an enhanced Super Commando form that included new cylinder heads, camshaft, and intake manifold.
1968 also saw the introduction of 50 Barracudas built specifically for Super Stock drag races. Built by Hurst Performance, these units were equipped with monster 426 hemi engines. They also included a fiberglass hood scoop and front fenders, reduced weight side glass, and sound deadening components. Conspicuously absent was the rear seat, as drag racers rarely need to accommodate passengers. The Super Stock Barracuda could do the quarter-mile in less than 11 seconds.
By 1969, the designers at Plymouth were ready to give the Barracuda an engine worthy of its name. They upgraded the 383 engine to 333 hp output and added a 440 cu. in. option. The latter choice was the largest engine ever put in a pony car. To make room for it, the company left out power steering. Anyone who bought the’ 68 Super Commando package would need Schwarzenegger-class biceps just to get around town, giving new meaning to the term “muscle car.”
RELATED: Watch This Twin-Turbo Barracuda Post a 6.58 Second Pass
1969 also saw one of the more embarrassing moments in Barracuda history. It came when the marketers at Plymouth, for reasons known only to them and God, decided to offer a “mod top” option. It included a vinyl roof covered with dainty, peaceful-looking flowers. The designers repeated the floral pattern on the front and rear seats and along the interior walls.
Perhaps the genius who came up with this idea was dropping acid at the time. In any event, the Timothy Leary-esque look was not only silly, but downright bizarre. When Capitalism and the counter-culture get in bed together, nothing good can can come of it.
Next time, we’ll follow the Barracuda as it sheds the remnants of its Valiant heritage, establishing its own identity in the world of performance driving. Stay tuned.
Stay tuned next week for Part 3 of "History of the Plymouth Barracuda." And pick up your custom 'Cuda shirt at the BoldRide shop today.
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