When Chrysler Corporation’s answer to the Ford Mustang came along in the spring of 1964, it was no secret that it was a rush job. The first Plymouth Barracuda, save the grille and the 2070-square-inch rear window, was otherwise a lowly Valiant. The glass-backed creation awkwardly yet valiantly (!) carried the Mopar flag in the pony-car wars until the debut of the second-generation Barracuda three years later. The 1967 car was not only a much more fully realized design than its predecessor but was offered in three distinct body styles: a graceful fastback, a convertible, and a notchback coupe.
The styling of the new-breed Barracuda was surprisingly sophisticated, highlighted by a fuselage that was almost entirely chrome-free, an aggressive two-piece grille, and a well-integrated fastback roofline.
It was also a much more complete package in terms of performance. While the standard means of locomotion was the eternally reliable, 225-cubic-inch slant six, a full range of V-8 engines in a variety of sizes – 273, 318, 340 and 383 cubic inches -- were offered, as was the Formula S performance handling and appearance package.
Although Plymouth’s pony car hardly made the same kind of splash in the market as the Mustang and, later, the Chevrolet Camaro and Pontiac Firebird, the Barracuda’s styling, engineering, performance, and durability have made second-generation cars very collectible and drivable artifacts of the era.
WHAT TO PAY: $6,000 - $12,000 for a notchback coupe, $10,000 - $18,000 for a convertible, $8,000 - $15,000 for a fastback (in good to excellent condition). 340-cubic-inch V-8 and 383-cubic-inch V-8 engines add a 30 percent premium. The 340 Formula S provides the best overall balance between performance and drivability.
BODY STYLES: Notchback coupe, convertible, and fastback. The fastback is the purest iteration of the Barracuda design.
PRODUCTION FIGURES: 62,534 in 1967; 45,412 in 1968; 31,958 in 1969.
CLUBS: The Walter P. Chrysler Club, the mother church for all things Mopar. PO Box 3504, Kalamazoo, MI 49003: Plymouth Barracuda/’Cuda Owners Club, 332 L Street, Carlsbad, New Mexico 88220
SPARES: JC Auto Restoration, 11303 20th Avenue NE, Seattle, Washington 98125, 206-363-5270; Year One, PO Box 129, Tucker, Georgia 30085, 800-932-7663
READ MORE: Dodge Challenger & Plymouth Barracuda, by David Newhardt, Motorbooks International, 96 pages, $14.95; Illustrated Plymouth & DeSoto Buyer’s Guide, by Jim Benjaminson, Motorbooks International, 128 pages, $17.95.
MEET THE AUTHOR
Author of this review, Bob Merlis, is an automotive journalist whose writing has been published in both general interest and enthusiast periodicals. He is a frequent contributor to Automobile Magazine. His feature length writing for Automobile earned him the coveted International Automotive Media Award for his piece on the demise of the Plymouth make. He is currently a continuing contributor to Details Magazine and has seen his pieces published in Car and Driver, Los Angeles Magazine and LA Style where, for four years, he served as Car Culture editor. He is a consultant to the Petersen Automotive Museum in the area of exhibit development. He is a member of the Motor Press Guild, Society of Automotive Historians, Studebaker Drivers Club, Avanti Owners Association International, Alfa Romeo Owners Club and International King Midget Car Club.
Outside the field of automotive journalism and literature, Merlis continues his endeavors in the music industry where he is best known for his nearly thirty year tenure at Warner Bros. Records where he was Senior Vice President, Director Worldwide Corporate Communications. Merlis is now running M.f.h., his west coast-based public relations/marketing consultancy.
Merlis is a native of Brooklyn and earned a Bachelor of Arts from Columbia University. He has been a resident of Los Angeles for over 25 years and is the father of three sons, Alexander, Benjamin and Timothy.