The Barracuda was a two-door coupe/convertible sports car manufactured by the Plymouth division of the Chrysler Corporation from 1964 through 1974.
The original Plymouth Barracuda was built upon the A-body chassis, which was also common to several other vehicles manufactured by Chrysler, including the popular Dodge Dart. The 1964 model was offered as an option of the Valiant line and carried Valiant insignia. It was designed to appeal to a sportier market and it is also considered the first pony car, because it preceded the Ford Mustang to market by two weeks. Plymouth execs initially wanted to call the car the 'Panda' but the designers complained and John Samsen's idea of 'Barracuda' was chosen.
The first generation Barracuda's main claim to fame was its enormous fastback wrap-around rear window, considered the largest piece of automotive glass ever installed at that time. (14.4 square feet) Powertrains were identical to the Valiant's, including two versions of Chrysler's legendary inline "slant 6" — a 170 in³ (2.8 L), 101 hp (75 kW) version and an optional 225 in³ (3.7 L), 145 hp (108 kW) version offered. A two-barrel carbureted 180 hp (134 kW) 273 in³ (4.5 L) V8 was the top engine option for 1964, so performance at first was modest. The 170 in³ six was later eliminated as an option, leaving the 225 in³ 145 hp version as the smallest engine option. The Barracuda sold for a base price of US$2,500, and unlike any other year, all automatic 1964 Barracudas had a push button shifter on the dashboard.
The 1965 model year saw the introduction of two important options; the 273 in³ (4.5 L) Commando, a 235 hp (175 kW) four-barrel carbureted V8, and the Formula 'S' package, a performance package that included the Commando V8, upgraded suspension, wheels, and tires, and a standard tachometer.
In 1966 the Barracuda would receive a new taillight design and a facelift, making it easily distinguishable from the 1964 and 1965 versions. As a move to further the car's image from that of the Valiant, the blue and red "V" shaped Valiant emblem below the rear glass on the center of the vehicle was replaced mid-year by a Barracuda fish emblem. The 1966 model had updated sheetmetal, which gave a more chiseled contour to the fenders, and also featured fender-top turn signal indicators in the shape of shark fins. Also new were full-sized bumpers and a unique "cheese-grater" grill, which slanted forward aggressively and featured a distinct grid pattern. Other changes for 1966 included a redesigned gauge cluster and optional center console.
Since 1967 saw a complete redesign of the Barracuda, some collectors consider the 1966 model a unique, one-year-only rarity. Other early A-Body enthusiasts shun the 1966 version as an unfortunate departure from the original design.
The Barracuda would influence other designs, particularly others in Chrysler's stable. Across the pond, Chrysler's United Kingdom offshoot developed the Hillman Hunter estate based Sunbeam Rapier Fastback coupe for 1967, which clearly emulated the 1964-66 Barracuda's profile.
In 1967 the Barracuda remained an A-body car, but was fully redesigned. To complement the fastback model, the vehicle now offered notchback and convertible options, replacing the 1966 versions. This second generation Barracuda would last for three years, from 1967 through 1969. An interesting way to visually tell the difference in all 3 years were the side marker lights: the 1967 Barracuda had no side marker lights at all, the 1968 model had small circular ones and the 1969 model had much larger rectangular ones.
As the pony car class became established and competition heated up, Plymouth began to revise the Barracuda's engine options, which came to resemble those of the larger Plymouth Road Runner more than the Valiant's. While the base 225 in³ was still the base engine, the engine options ranged from the two-barrel carbureted 180 hp (134 kW) 273 in³ (4.5 L) Commando, to a 235 hp (175 kW) four-barrel carbureted V8 and though rare, the optionally available 383 in³ (6.3 L) B engine in 1967. In 1968 the 318 in³ 2bbl was the smallest V8 available (replacing the 273 in³ 2bbl engine) and the 340 in³ 4bbl engine and finally the massive 440 in³ (7.2 L) RB single 4-barrel carbureted in 1969, available straight off of the showroom floor. There was even a limited production of 50 Super-Stock, non-street legal, Hemi-powered Barracudas (and another 50 Darts) built in 1968 for use in drag racing.
1969 was the year that Plymouth finally got serious about performance. They boosted the output of the 383 cid engine to 330 bhp and found room to fit power steering. Plymouth also introduced a cosmetic package built around the Formula S option, which they called the 'Cuda. The 'Cuda could be had with either the 275 bhp 340 V8 or the 383, but it still wasn't fast enough. Plymouth responded in 1970 by stuffing in the triple carb 440 V8 under the hood, the largest engine available in a pony car. The performance models were called 'Cudas and featured five different V8s, the 340, 383, 440, 440+6, and the almighty 426 Hemi. The 440s and the Hemi cars received a special high performance suspension to put all that power to the road. Standard Barracudas came with a flat hood, while 'Cudas came with standard dual non-functional hood scoops. Optional on all 'Cudas (and standard on Hemi's) was a very functional shaker scoop, so named because it attached directly to the engine, and poked up through a hole in the hood and thus "shaked" whenever the engine did. Hemi - 426/425: 0-60 in 5.6 seconds, 1/4 mile in 13.41 sec. @ 104.6 mph.\
A handful of spinoff Savage GT's were also built, from the second generation Barracuda.
As 1970 rolled around, another redesign was in order for the Barracuda. The performance version was badged and advertised as the 'Cuda. This year's new design looked quite a bit different from the previous models. One of the reasons was that it was now built on a new, slightly shorter, wider, and sportier version of Chrysler's existing B platform, the E-body. This new generation eliminated the fastback, but kept the two-door coupe and convertible versions. It also had a Dodge near-twin known as the Challenger; however, not one body panel interchanged between the two cars and the Challenger had a slightly longer wheelbase. Both were aggressively and cleanly styled, although they were clearly influenced by the first-generation Chevrolet Camaro. After the switch to the E platform, which featured a larger engine bay than the previous A-body, Chrysler's famous 426 in³ (7.0 L) Hemi would now be available from the factory in the Barracuda. The HemiCuda had about a factory rating of 6 MPG, and was sold without warranty.
Race car drivers Swede Savage and Dan Gurney drove identical factory-sponsored AAR (All American Racers) Cudas in the 1970 Trans-Am Series, although with no success. The AAR Cudas were equipped with the 340 ci "six pack" (3, two barrel carburetors).
With the 440-6 and 426 Hemi, the performance from these production Barracudas ended up being legendary. The 1/4 mile times for these were 13.7 s @ 103 mph and 13.4 s @ 108 mph - both among the fastest times of the day. These engines were very easy to slightly modify and drop into the 12s, but either way - stock or modified - one could virtually have a 5-passenger race car. Barracudas also came with decal sets, hood modifications, and some unusual colors ("Vitamin C", "In-Violet", and "Moulin Rouge").
The Barracuda was changed slightly for 1971, with a new grille and taillights. This would be the only year that the Barracuda would have four headlights, and also the only year of the optional fender "gills". The 1971 Barracuda engine options would remain the same as that of the 1970 model, except for the fact that a 4-barrel carbureted 440 engine was not available; all 440-powered Barracudas had a six-barrel carburetor setup instead. The 426 Hemi option would remain, and the Hemi-powered 1971 Barracuda convertible is now considered one of the rarest and most desirable collectible automobiles.
In 1970 and 1971, two options were available that are now highly sought-after by collectors. They are the shaker hood and the Spicer Dana 60 rearend. The shaker hood was available on 340ci, 383ci, 440ci and Six-Pack, and 426ci Hemi-equipped 'Cudas. The heavy Dana 60, with a 9 3/4 inch ring gear and considered nearly indestructible, was standard on manual transmission 440 Six-Pack and 426 Hemi equipped 'Cudas, and was optional on those with the automatic transmission.
After another grille and taillight redesign in 1972, the Barracuda would keep its overall look the same through 1974, with dual headlights and four circular taillights. But like other pony cars of the time, these years showed a major decrease in the Barracuda's power due to stricter emission laws. The largest available engine in 1972 was the 340 4bbl; a 360 was available in 1974. New safety regulations would also force the vehicle to have large front and rear bumper guards in 1973 and 1974. The Barracuda hung on through 1974, after which it was discontinued in the midst of the 1973 oil crisis. Production ended ten years (to the day) after it had begun. Although today they are sought-after collector cars, the third generation was a marketplace failure and never successfully competed with rival offerings from Ford and General Motors. The rarity of specific models and combinations today is primarily the result of low original-buyer interest and production.
A rare (only 14 produced) 1970 Hemicuda convertible sold for US$2.16 million at the Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Scottsdale Auction in 2006.
About 1970 Plymouth 'cuda and Barracuda
The 'cuda model was introduced in 1969 as a sport model of the Barracuda (64-74). The 'cuda model had heavy duty suspension, larger engines and larger brakes. In 1970 the Barracuda/'cuda got a new chassis called the E-body (previews years were A-body, and based on the Plymouth Valiant) which it shared with the Dodge Challenger/ Challenger R/T. The E-body would last in 5 year 70-74, when the Barracuda/'cuda and the Challenger was discontinued. The 1970 Barracuda, Barracuda Gran Coupe and 'cuda was released as 2 door hard tops and as a cabriolets.
The 1970 'cuda model had these engine to choose from 383 High Performer 335HP (Standard), 340 4bbl 275HP, 340 6bbl 290HP(AAR 'cuda only), 440 4bbl 375HP, 440 6bbl 390HP and the 426 Hemi 4bblx2 425HP. 70 'cuda had drum brakes on all 4 wheels as standard. You could get disc brakes (front wheels) and power brake (both disc and drums) as an option. Cruise control, power windows, fender turn signals, power steering, road/fog lights, 8-track, Fm radio, hockey strips on the rear quarter with engine size call outs, were some of the other option you could order on the 'cuda. An easy way to tell if a the car you’re looking at is a real 'cuda and not a Barracuda is by checking the first two letters in the VIN code in windscreen. They should always begins with BS (70-74) example: BS23N0E123456. A Barracuda starts with BH and the Barracuda Grand Coupe starts with BP.
The visual difference of the 70 'cuda compare to the Barracuda is; The rally hood with it's two fake fresh air intakes and engine call outs or the hood with the shaker option, the red stripe in the grill, the dual exhaust out of the lower valance, the flat black painted rear plate with chrome molding around, and the chrome around the rear lights.
The AAR 'cuda was a special midyear model of the 'cuda. That was made to be able to race in the Trans Am races. It had a special 340 small block with three 2bbl carburetors (call a 6bbl). The visual difference from a normal 'cuda was a flat black fiber glass hood with fresh air intake, a small flat black rear spoiler, flat black painted grill with chrome moldings, side exhaust and black strobe stripe decal on both side of the car that ended up in the AAR logo (AAR = All American Race).
The 70 Barracuda Gran Coupe was a upgrade of the Barracuda (BH), with leather front seats, overhead console (hard tops only) with doors open light, and low fuel light. The door panels were also different from the Barracuda and 'cuda. They had a red stripe molding in them. The grill has the same chrome mould in it as the AAR cuda, but the grill was gray like the Barracuda and 'cuda. The rear panel which is painted flat black on the 'cuda is painted flat gray like the grill on the Barracuda Gran Coupe.
Appearances in pop culture
- In The Wraith, Skank and Gutterboy drove a beat-up 1966 Plymouth Barracuda.
- In Highwaymen (film) Jim Caviezel drives a 1968 Plymouth Barracuda.
- In Phantasm (film), Jody drives a black 1971 Plymouth Barracuda coupe.
- In Phantasm III, Reggie has a black 1970 Plymouth Barracuda convertible.
- In Harry Barrington,the motion picture
- In Gone In 60 Seconds "Shannon" Car number 37, Red 1971 Hemicuda
- Nash Bridges (1996-2001) : Five Barracudas made from 1970, '71, and yes, a 1973 to look like '71 HemiCuda convertibles
- Megas XLR (2004-2005): Red convertible Barracuda was adopted as a head and control center of the giant robot, Megas XLR, by the main character of the series, Coop.
- Brady Bunch (Seasons 1971-1972): A light blue convertible Barracuda was Mike Brady's car for the 1971 and some of the 1972 seasons.
- The Doris Day Show : Doris could be seen driving a maroon colored 1971 convertible Barracuda in some show openings.
- Mannix (Seasons 1970-1972): A Forrest Green convertible Barracuda with a 383 cid engine appears as the primary Mannix driver for the 1970-1972 seasons. The car appears to be the same one through these years, with the grill and tail lights being changed out in order to match the given year model. Although Chrysler never made production of a 1972 convertible, this car was made to look like a 1972 convertible by retrofitting it with a 1972 grill and tail light panel.
- In Gran Turismo 2, a Plymouth Barracuda can be purchased and driven.
- In Gran Turismo 4, the Plymouth Barracuda returns and can also be purchased.
- In Interstate '76, a black-on-orange Barracuda featured as the car driven by the game's protagonist, Groove Champion. It is called a 'Picard Pirahna' in the game.
- In Need for Speed: Carbon, a Plymouth BarraCuda can be driven and modified. Also, in Need for Speed: High Stakes, a 1970 Plymouth BarraCuda can be downloaded from NFSCars and inserted for it to run in the game.
- In Test Drive Donald Black begins the game with either a Toyota Supra or a Hemi Cuda.