With its 14-year lifespan, the sea creature known as the Great Barracuda is long-lived in the scheme of scaly things. Sleek and streamlined, it’s an aggressive, dominant predator, known for using surprise tactics and great speed in catching its prey. Plymouth’s two-door pony car was named after the bellicose fish for good reason but, by contrast, it lived in production just ten years—from 1964 to 1974—and, within that decade, saw three generations.
The first, with a two-year run, was essentially a fastback version of Plymouth’s uninspired Valiant. The second, made from 1967 to 1969 and still based on some Valiant underpinnings, offered serious performance thanks to an optional V-8 engine, including Chrysler’s secret weapon, the 426 ci “Hemi.” The third and final generation, made from 1970 to 1974, was a whole different fish entirely—an all-new design based on Chrysler’s existing B platform, called the E-body.
Offered as a coupe or convertible, it was an attractive car with a unibody platform also used by the early Dodge Challenger, which was slightly larger in dimensions overall. An assortment of inline-six and V-8 engines were available throughout the run, and the sport versions, marketed as the ’Cuda, could initially be ordered with the 426 ci “Hemi” and 440 ci V-8 engines.
Identical factory-sponsored AAR (All American Racers) ’Cudas, powered by 340 ci V-8s, were driven by Swede Savage and Dan Gurney in the 1970 American Trans-AM Series, competing against Dodge relatives, along with Ford, Chevrolet and American Motors cars in the over-2.0-liter category. The 426 ci and 440 ci cars were campaigned in the US and Europe, with their greatest success coming to privateer drivers on the drag strip.
Both Dodge and Plymouth really led the era’s design trends, and the last-gen Barracuda looks more in style with today’s aesthetics than perhaps any car of its decade. Complementing the creased, contemporary bodywork were optional high-impact-paint (HIP) colors with names like “Curious Yellow,” “Vitamin C,” “In-Violet” and “Sassy Grass.” But no amount of cool looks could keep the hi-performance flame alive. Mopar (a nickname used by enthusiasts for Chrysler, Dodge and Plymouth performance cars) featured the 426 ci “Hemi” only through 1971 and, ultimately, the 1973 oil crisis struck the death knell for these types of high-performance cars in North America.
With relatively few sales of big-block Barracudas when new, examples of the model are even more scarce today, especially those with original drivetrains. This fine 1970 specimen, being offered at no reserve, comes to Barrett-Jackson’s upcoming auction, held from October 20 through 22 at the NRG Center in Houston, Tex.
Unlike the majority of ’Cudas, this one benefits from a documented, frame-off, rotisserie restoration and retains its original body panels. It’s also painted in period-correct “Sublime Green” with black hockey stripes and a black, bucket-seat interior. Under its Shaker hood is the original, matching-numbers 440 ci (7.2 liter) V-8 engine equipped with the Six Pack, a standalone option for 1970 that used three two-barrel carburetors for a factory-rated output of 390 hp and 490 ft lbs of torque.
With its steering-column-mounted shifter, the 727 TorqueFlite three-speed automatic transmission may have been unassuming in presentation but not performance. A Dana 60 9.75-inch rear axle with Sure-Grip limited-slip differential spins BFGoodrich Radial T/A tires mounted on 15-inch Rallye wheels. The list of amenities, so far as they went in 1970, includes power steering, power brakes, front road lamps, hood pins and an AM/FM stereo system. And an upgraded aftermarket air-conditioning system keeps things cool.
Adding to the originality of the car is its original factory Broadcast Sheet and fender tag. One of only 853 examples of the V-Code ’Cuda hardtops produced in 1970 with this engine/transmission combination, it has been driven approximately 1,500 miles and stored in a heated garage since the completion of its ground-up restoration.
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