'Cuda clone like none other
http://driving.ca/plymouth/auto-news/ne ... none-other
Frame-up restoration? The car looks gorgeous as it sits!
It is hard to believe that Chrysler’s Plymouth brand has been extinct for almost 14 years, but back in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the Plymouth division was producing some of the most sought-after performance offerings on the road.
The Plymouth Barracuda was first produced in 1964 as a stylish coupe based on the venerable Valiant and the new car’s fastback design featured distinctive wraparound back glass.
The second-generation Barracuda was unleashed on the street for 1967 and while it was still based on the value-minded Valiant, the new Barracuda had been thoroughly redesigned and could be ordered in fastback, notchback and convertible versions.
When Chrysler unveiled the 1970 Plymouth Barracuda, the third-generation muscle car rode on an all new platform (E-body) and was available in coupe and a convertible variants.
The new frame and chassis was based on a shortened version of the company’s B platform, which was also widened significantly to increase interior room and give the car improved road holding characteristics and a new found feeling of stability at speed.
This last evolution of the Barracuda corresponded with the arrival of a new stable mate, that being the equally dynamic Dodge Challenger. The two cousins shared many components, but no sheet metal. In fact, the Challenger featured a longer wheelbase than the Barracuda, albeit just two inches.
Under the hood, you will find an Indy 426 Hemi with two Holley 389 four-barrel carburetors. This masterpiece of engineering produces 525 horsepower.
The benefit of owning a clone is that you can enjoy the car and drive it on a regular basis because additional mileage and a little wear and tear won’t hammer the car’s value like it would on a numbers-matching original.
Who wants to spend an afternoon in the garage wiping dust off of a rare trophy car with a cotton diaper when you can be carving apexes and smoking tires with the next best thing?
Owner Tom Dufour is a master mechanic and acquired this pretty car from a client who had spent a rather large sum of money to transform the very straight muscle car into a faithful reproduction of the venerable Hemi ’Cuda before a new project caught his eye and he decided to part with it.
Tom has plans to complete a frame-up restoration of this raucous predator in hopes of spending plenty of time behind the wheel enjoying one of the most exciting muscle-car driving experiences to ever come out of Detroit.
When the third-generation cars were introduced in 1970, there were three versions of the car offered; including the V6 powered base Barracuda and Barracuda Gran Coupe while high-performance V8 models were marketed using the shortened ’Cuda moniker.
The standard engine for the ’Cuda was a 383-cubic-inch V8 that produced 335 horsepower, but there were also several big-block options available for those consumers looking for more punch; including the 440-cubic-inch four-barrel Super Commando (375 h.p.), the 440-cubic-inch six-barrel Super Commando Six Pak (390 h.p.), and the 426-cubic-inch Hemi (425 h.p.). The latter cars also benefited from a host of suspension upgrades and extra structural reinforcement to ensure the ’Cuda would be able to effectively deliver the extra horsepower and torque to the ground and maintain driveability.
For 1971, Plymouth dropped the four-barrel Super Commando from the menu, but there was also a minor update to the car’s exterior styling. The ’Cuda now sported a new grill treatment, vertical fender gills and new head and tail lights. On the inside, the cabin benefited from new seat and trim elements. Interestingly, the front seats on the ’Cuda were cloaked in vinyl while the rear bench unit was covered in leather.
Eye-popping colours and aggressive styling cues like the Shaker hood and bold graphics helped give the ’Cuda curb appeal, but it was the car’s race-bred handling and performance that helped make it a legend.
While spending the better part of an afternoon exploring some of my favourite back country roads in this retro rocket, it was apparent that Plymouth’s involvement in the Trans-Am Series had helped bless this car with very competent handling characteristics. One innovation was a trick ‘ground-pounding’ suspension which features additional shocks to help car keep in contact with the asphalt, allowing it to hook up and launch with enhanced traction.
The three-speed, Slap-Stik 727 automatic transmission with 4.10 gears and posi-traction help deliver the car’s prodigious 525 h.p. to the Dana 60 rear axle.
Acceleration is strong for a nearly 45-year-old performance car, although the steering requires plenty of arm strength and the old-school brakes didn’t inspire enough confidence to really test this car’s performance potential.
Plymouth reinforced the frames and bodies of the high-performance ’Cuda models, and surprisingly, this car was free of any noticeable flex and virtually rattle free despite running a more powerful engine.
Unfortunately, out-of-control gasoline prices and the arrival of stringent safety and emissions regulations marked the demise of the muscle car just as this potent niche market was getting interesting, and the Barracuda met its demise in the spring of 1974.