The Unbelievable Story of the Plymouth Barracuda: From Mild Pony to Drag Strip Legend
In the realm of classic muscle cars, few can compare to the iconic Plymouth Barracuda. Introduced in 1964, this legendary vehicle captivated the hearts of car enthusiasts for a solid decade. With three generations spanning from 1964 to 1974, the Barracuda underwent significant redesigns that cemented its place in automotive history.
Originally, the Barracuda flexed its muscles as a mild-mannered pony car. However, in 1967, this beast received a powerful upgrade in the form of a big V8 engine. This transformation propelled the Barracuda into the league of fully-fledged muscle cars. But it was the 1970 model year that truly solidified the Barracuda’s reputation as an unrivaled muscle car, boasting intimidating looks and an options list that left no desires unfulfilled. It was during this time that Chrysler’s most potent mills found their home under the hood of the Barracuda. Notably, the 1970-1971 model years witnessed a historic collaboration between Plymouth and the mighty HEMI V8 engine.
During this short-lived period, the Barracuda saw the birth of the infamous HEMI ‘Cuda, a muscle car that would go on to become one of the most coveted gems of the golden era. With only 780 units ever produced, the HEMI ‘Cuda garnered a reputation for being rare, highly desirable, and exceptionally expensive. Its exclusivity and astonishing performance made it a force to be reckoned with on the roads.
However, what many enthusiasts may not know is that the Barracuda had a tryst with the 426-cubic-inch HEMI V8 long before its third-generation model debuted in 1969. This rendezvous occurred in 1968 when Chrysler sought to conquer the Super Stock drag racing series with smaller vehicles. While Dodge opted for the Dart, Plymouth chose to transform the Barracuda into a fierce contender on the drag strip.
The result of this endeavor was the Barracuda Super Stock, codenamed B029, a meticulously crafted machine that pushed boundaries and set new standards in terms of power-to-weight ratio. With assistance from Hurst Performance, Plymouth managed to create a drag-specific pony car based on the street-legal Barracuda. The weight reduction measures employed were astonishing, featuring fiberglass front fenders and hood, thinner doors, and a stripped-down interior.
The Barracuda Super Stock rolled off the assembly line weighing a mere 3,100 pounds, making it over 300 pounds lighter than its Road Runner counterpart. This impressive feat, combined with the brute force of the HEMI engine, ensured that the B029 carved its own path in the world of drag racing.
To accommodate the massive HEMI engine within the Barracuda’s tight engine bay, Plymouth and Hurst had to make significant modifications. The shock towers were altered to create sufficient space, and the engineering team introduced enhanced hardware to boost performance. Officially rated at 425 horsepower, the HEMI engine exceeded expectations with actual output surpassing the 500-horsepower mark. With proper tuning, it even soared close to an astounding 600 horsepower.
Once unleashed at the drag strip, the B029 proved its mettle, outperforming any production Mopar vehicle of the time. With quarter-mile times in the low 10s and speeds exceeding 130 mph, the Super Stock Barracuda left its challengers in the dust, showcasing its dominance on the track. Its prowess and unmatched performance made it a force to be reckoned with during an era defined by muscle cars.
It is worth noting that Plymouth had no intentions of turning the Barracuda Super Stock into a mass-produced vehicle. Limited to a mere 50 cars, this rare breed of Barracudas has become highly sought after by collectors. Many of these unique machines have unfortunately met their demise over the years, driving up the price for those who managed to survive. Public auctions have witnessed these treasures fetching staggering amounts, with some selling for as high as $300,000. However, finding one for sale is akin to discovering a unicorn, requiring a fair share of luck and perseverance.
For those who can appreciate the legacy of the B029 but are willing to settle for a replica that captures its essence, this all-black 1968 Barracuda is the ultimate Mopar dream come true. While it may lack some of the features found in the B029, such as the genuine HEMI engine, this beast is no slouch. Equipped with a built 502-cubic-inch powerhouse derived from a 440 block, this Plymouth boasts a mighty 525 horsepower. The deep growls and aggressive demeanor of this black beauty leave no doubt that it possesses the spirit of a true muscle car.
Stepping inside this remarkable Barracuda, one is transported back in time to 1968. Impeccably restored, it retains its original charm and pristine condition, mirroring the factory-fresh appearance of yesteryears. While it may not be an authentic B029, this street-legal masterpiece is the closest one can get to owning a piece of Plymouth’s untold history.
In conclusion, the Plymouth Barracuda stands as a testament to American automotive ingenuity and a symbol of the golden age of muscle cars. Its evolution from a mild pony car to a drag strip legend is an awe-inspiring tale that continues to captivate enthusiasts to this day. Whether it be the elusive HEMI ‘Cuda or the magnificent Barracuda Super Stock, these timeless machines exemplify power, performance, and unrivaled craftsmanship. For those fortunate enough to experience the thrill of driving a Barracuda, the memories will undoubtedly last a lifetime.
(View the video below to witness the sheer power and beauty of this incredible Barracuda)