During the great pony car race of the 1960s, it was the Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro that grabbed the headlines. Yet, waiting in the wings to steal their thunder was the awesome Plymouth Barracuda. Originally built on the compact Plymouth Valiant platform, the Barracuda set tongues wagging thanks to its enormous, and unique, rear glass window. Developing, over time, into a tarmac shredding muscle car, the Barracuda never attained the incredible sales success of the Ford Mustang but has evolved into a highly sought-after collector’s vehicle.
With the most prized examples having been equipped with one of history’s greatest power plants, the 426 Hemi, the Barracuda is now legendary amongst muscle car fans. A stone-cold street racing all-American hero, the Plymouth Barracuda will still turn heads, shred tires, and command respect, which is why these are the 10 reasons why we love the Plymouth Barracuda.
12 A Name To Remember
Things could have been so different. During its design phase, the Plymouth Barracuda had initially been given the less aggressive working name of Panda. A favored title by Plymouth executives, it was swiftly replaced with the name we have all come to love.
The thinking at board level was that the Plymouth Panda would serve as an approachable, lovable sporting fastback. The designers, however, knowing how a bad name could kill car sales, wanted something more fitting for their creation. So the Barracuda was born.
11 Stand out styling
At the time of release late in the 1964 model year, the Barracuda boasted the largest rear window fitted to any automobile of the time. Crafted by Pittsburgh Plate Glass, it measured in at over 14 sq ft and set the Barracuda apart from its main rivals.
Over time, the car’s design would evolve into the coke bottle styled second-generation before becoming the swollen haunched third-generation model. Each iteration sets itself apart from the last and offers up something new and interesting with its design.
10 The Overlooked 1965 Formula S
Swayed by the tempting marketing, many buyers flooded Ford’s showrooms and bought a Mustang. Those looking for something different would opt for the 1965 Plymouth Barracuda Formula S. This was a hint of things to come from Plymouth.
Equipped with an uprated 235 hp Commando V8, the Formula S came loaded with extras. Its upgraded suspension, disc brakes, and larger wheels all add to the car’s sporty feel. Capable of cracking 60mph in 8 seconds, it was also no slouch.
9 Plenty Of Muscle
With the buying public looking for more power from their muscle cars, Plymouth decided to satisfy their needs. Throughout the life of the Barracuda, power outputs would range from a pleasant 100 hp to a full-on tire melting 425 hp.
Customers were spoiled for choice when it came to power plants, with many looking at the array of mighty big blocks on offer. By the time the third-generation car was offered, over 12 engine option codes could be sorted through.
8th A total rock star
Often hailed as the greatest street racing machine ever created, the Plymouth Barracuda has been honored in numerous rock songs. Bruce Springsteen himself has paid homage to the mighty Hemi-powered muscle car in the classic Born To Run.
Needing a car that oozed power and style, detective Nash Bridges, played by Don Johnson, opted to drive a convertible Plymouth Cuda. Although a clone of the Hemi version, the car still managed to steal the show and upstage its human co-stars.
7 A Family-Friendly Fish
Offering up acres of interior space, the Plymouth Barracuda was initially marketed at those who wanted a sporty car but also had a family. Whilst the Mustang chased the youth angle, the Barracuda was happy to steal sales in the segment of those with a few more years under their belts.
Those who picked the Plymouth would be rewarded with a car capable of transporting a family in style. When optioned with one of the numerous high-output engines, that family could then be scared silly with a simple prod of the loud pedal.
6 The Stuff Of Legend
Exploding onto the scene in 1970, the 426 ci (7.0-liter) Hemi-powered Cuda would lay down a 0-60 mph time of 5.3 seconds thanks to its underrated 425 hp engine. Bristling with power, the Hemi Cuda became an instant icon and a true legend.
Rarer than rocking horse poop, only 115 fully-fledged Hemi Cuda’s were ever sold, as the model was withdrawn after 1971. This means that they have become something of a unicorn, with collectors needing to cough up serious money to obtain one.
5 Racing pedigree
With its infamous Hemi engine having seen service in both drag racing and as Richard Petty’s NASCAR power plant of choice, it was no surprise that the Plymouth Barracuda came to be an all-conquering force wherever it competed.
The weapon of choice for those looking to simply rock up and win, the Barracuda was an ideal choice. Even when equipped with the lesser-powered V8s, the Barracuda would easily hold its own and provide a sound platform for a fast build.
4 Holy Grail Collectible
With so few Hemi Cuda convertibles having been sold, getting one is a very costly affair. In all, only 12 ’71 specification cars were ever made, with 5 of these being designated for overseas markets. Depending on the options ticked, each is pretty unique.
One such car, having been shipped to France, was priced at a staggering $6.5 million as of 2021. With the values of classic cars soaring in recent years, anyone in possession of an original, numbers-matching Hemi Cuda convertible is sitting on a gold mine.
3 Victim Of Performance
When it was first released, the Plymouth Barracuda entered a buoyant market where purchasers were unconcerned about fuel economy and running costs. That all changed by the time the third generation car hit the tarmac.
Facing a sharp decrease in performance due to newly introduced emission regulations, the powerful Hemi Cuda was withdrawn after 1971. Then with the energy crisis of 1973, the thirsty Plymouth Barracuda was finally discontinued the following year for good.
2 A Break From The Norm
The Plymouth Barracuda beat the Ford Mustang to be the world’s first affordable fastback by 2 weeks. It offered up seating for 5 in a sleek body. Additionally, it featured fantastic design flair, whilst dishing out keen performance to match its good looks.
Originally based on the humble Valiant compact, it drew in fresh sales, and eventually evolved into a full-blooded muscle car.
1 A Hinted Dodge Born Revival
Over the years, numerous concepts and teases have been released bearing the Barracuda nameplate. At one point, the reborn version of the Barracuda, based on an Alfa Romeo platform, was set for release but sadly never appeared.
More recently, there have been tempting mock-ups of the Barracuda using the Dodge Challenger platform as a base. This allows for the sporting coupe styling and, more importantly, the use of a tire-melting Hemi beneath the hood.
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