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Project Pony Car: 1965 Plymouth Barracuda Four-Speed V8

Plymouth didn’t know it, but it invented a new genre in the pantheon of automotive history: the pony car. Arriving in April of 1964 – just a few weeks before Ford’s Mustang – the Barracuda possessed the long hood/short deck/sporty demeanor that resonated with buyers ready for something new. Of course, the Mustang swept the field. But the Barracuda sold well enough, despite sharing components with the lowly Valiant. Here on craigslist is an example of Plymouth’s first-generation Barracuda from model year 1965, with an asking price of $4950. The car along with the rest of this garage debris is located in Hubbard, Oregon. The seller is clearing out a family member’s shop and knows little about the car except that it “ran when parked” several years ago and doesn’t appear to be drastically rusty. The title is clear. And that about sums up the good news.

Early Barracudas came with either a slant-six or a 273 cu. in. V8. The 273 could be equipped with a two-barrel carburetor or a four-barrel. The latter was called the Commando, and with its 10.5:1 compression ratio and an aggressive cam, it made 235 hp. Three transmissions were available: a three-speed manual, a four-speed manual, and a TorqueFlite automatic. Once a new owner resurrects this mill, the car should hit sixty mph in about ten seconds. But in the meantime, we don’t even know if the engine will turn. Aside from engine options, buyers could also tick the boxes for Rallye Suspension, power brakes, front disc brakes, and a defroster for the back window. The ultimate Barracuda is the Formula S, with most of these amenities included.

First order of business is a good cleaning for the interior – makes it much easier to gauge the scope of this project. Rusty scale on the floors, tattered rubber seals, dangling components, torn upholstery – that’s just what’s evident at first glance. That glovebox should have a service plate – I think I see it. The radio looks like an aftermarket unit.

I don’t mind dust or even mildew, but what compels the inclusion of the rake, tarps, shovel, and garbage can? All the debris serves to obscure my favorite feature of these early Barracudas – that majestic backlight. It was the largest rear window installed on any production car up to the moment these cars were conceived. PPG partnered with Plymouth to make that happen. Better hope the glass is clear and intact – they’re wicked tough to find. If you yearn for an original ’65 Barracuda, you only have a few to choose from in today’s market, most with some cosmetic issues, but selling reasonably in the mid-teens, slightly higher for the four-speed. Of course, a Formula S will empty your wallet faster; or you might opt for an engine-swapped version, also a pricier venture. What do you think of this forlorn example? Is it worth saving?


  1. Dave Suton

    Just one correction. PPG didn’t manufacture the backlight for the Barracuda. That glass was made in house at Chryslers Glass division in Detroit. McGraw glass made everyone of those backlights. I should know. I worked there

    Like 39
    • Doone

      One man’s junk is another’s treasure. IMO $1500 and sell for parts.

      Like 10
      • Daniel Kuchenberg

        You are so wrong.

        Like 9
    • Michelle Rand Staff


      Like 1
    • Mark Heldt

      My mother had one. I thought it was the uglyist car l had ever seen, still do.

      Like 0
  2. AutoArcheologist AutoArcheologist Member

    Get her running.. if engine turns, that’s probably not that difficult.
    Clean her up

    Like 13
    • Geoffrey Garren

      I totally agree! There is just something you can feel when you drive a car like this. No matter if it’s perfectly restored (which is nice but we all don’t have the cash to put into it like we would want) or just clean her up….then drive! That’s the way I would do it …the ideal vehicle like this and how I would do it is…. make everything mechanical meaning drive train etc…..make it puuurfect. Leave it unfinished …patina I believe it’s called. This way when you blow the doors off a little super tuner from Japan or what ever it feels so good….

      Like 6
  3. paul simmons

    How Much where is it?

    Like 0
  4. Thom

    Dang. Was my first car. Love how all the seats folded down along with the trunk divider to make for a bed…
    If only Oregon wasn’t do far from Georgia….

    Like 5
    • eric22t

      oh come on thom, momma needs a wee bit of a vacation. i say road trip and drag it back cuz you “just” happened to stumble on it. just don’t let her see you load the tow bar and drag lights into the truck. he said with a cheeky grin.
      i won’t even fight you for it i like the gen2s better

      she looks to be a good start after a ton of cleaning. and at that price for old mopar you can’t go wrong. unless of course you are the type to farm it all out to pro shops and are in it for the bottom line.

      Like 5
    • Frog Man

      Same I mowed lawns for three summers, 73,74,75.Pulled and pounded nails and hauled lumber in winter after school as well as delivered newspapers on a bike in the mornings to buy a Formula S from my dad in 1977 It was a fun first car and I too loved the back seat trying like hell to get girlfriends back there.

      Like 2
      • Roland Schoenke

        I had a ’64 Valiant with the 273, first year option I believe, always wanted the 65 barracuda. If I was rolling in dow I’d buy it and restore it.

        Like 0
    • Terry

      Great looking project here. Lost an identic@l car in my divorce. That is the big V8 and the glass looks decent. That glass was hard to find 45 years ago! Great cars and this one looks complete. If it was closer id be on it.

      Like 0
  5. jwaltb

    Was a nice car once. Sad now.

    Like 2
  6. Rik

    Learned to drive a 4 speed in a Formula S. It was my sisters boyfriends high school graduation present.

    Like 1
  7. Steve

    I had a 65 commando V8 4sp that I bought for $100 in 1970. Just needed a paint job and was a fun car.

    Like 5
  8. stillrunners stillrunners Member

    For that part of the world it really doesn’t look that bad. That’s the 273 Comando with a big Holley on top…..with a 4 speed it might just have a 8 3/4 under it. Go look and it the engine turns – that’s not to bad a price. Try finding a Mustang or Camero any where near that price.

    Like 6
  9. Mark

    Not many left built like that, restore it please

    Like 5
  10. Terry J

    Since I was a teenager in the mid 60’s I was there. This Barracuda wasn’t a “Pony” car. It was a fast back Valiant more in the realm of the “compact” Chevy 2 and the Falcon. Not that they were uncool, but the Mustang and Camaro/Firebird were new cars altogether though they did use components from their “compact” cousins. We heard about the Barracuda and a gang of us drove to Pendleton to the Mopar dealer to see one. It was a hit with us. I eventually had a V8 Chevy 2 and a friend had a V8 Falcon Futura. :-) Terry J

    Like 1
  11. Jeff P

    V8 factory 4 speed. Yes, it should be saved imo. Surface rust solid body and frame?

    The only question is it a numbers matching historic restoration or a crate engine restomod with upgraded suspension and interior.

    Call Chip Foose or Dave Kindig.

    Like 0
    • jwaltb

      Yeah, if you’re richer than God.

      Like 2
    • Terry

      That certainly looks like the original Big V8,valve covers are right anyways.

      Like 0
  12. C Force

    A real diamond in the rough!The asking price is pretty fair.The fact that it is complete and has the 273 is a real plus.A solid lifter engine that makes great high rpm power,getting to be a rare engine nowadays,overshadowed by the 340 which is more well known.Any Mopar fanatic would love to have this jewel.

    Like 0
  13. Jeff P

    Forgot one.

    Roadkill Garage it aka David Freiburg er

    Like 1
  14. V12MECH

    Spend a day, drag it out, air up tires, clean it up, maybe even try to get engine to turn, and ask another $1,000. It’s all about presentation.

    Like 3
  15. Ten50boy

    One of my all time favorite cars…….. good God I wish I had 1. More time, 2. More garage space and 3. A wife that wouldn’t beat me with a cast iron skillet if I bought it!!!😂🤣😅

    Like 1
  16. stillrunners stillrunners Member

    That’s the Commando air cleaner top there on the hood along with the one to fit the Holley.

    The dash would not have to be cut to much for that newer stero – the stock radio plate would cover that and the later factory AM/FM fits right in.

    The North West states covers cars much like the rear of it looks but the plus is most looks to be out of the weather.

    Like 0
  17. Robert

    I always loved the big window barracudas, I know we all have fond memories of the ‘Hemi under glass’, just an unusual but distinctively stylish car. I’d love to shine this one up and fix it back as close to original as possible, cuz I don’t have the funds to pay Chip or Dave the fortune that it would take for them to put their handiwork into it. But danged if I wouldn’t love to see what they could do with this car, maybe if I win that big Powerball…

    Like 0
  18. J. Pfund

    That’s the best part about classic cars. You can trade your time and skills and a build a very nice car.

    Or, for under $10k you could have a fun Roadkill version in a couple of long weekends.

    Like 0
  19. Ward William

    Think Roadworthy Rescues or Vice Grip Garage type approach perhaps? Personally I have always loved these and if I were in the US I would be all over it like a fat kid on custard. We had these as the Valiant sedan and Wagon down under back in the day. Drove them many times as a young lad. They were a $200 car when I was growing up and for that money you drove them till they dropped. Always loved the styling and this is them on steroids. It will be lovely after it is restored but I doubt the restorer/owner will ever make money on it.

    Like 0
  20. Ken Fulton

    The fresh air vents under the dash hold a six pack of beer perfectly.

    Like 0
  21. James Hale

    Many comments about the “Formula S”, but I don’t see the appropriate “badging”.

    Like 0
  22. Mark

    Parents and us kids looked at one of these in 64. I loved it. Went home with the Valiant station wagon. I was 9 and disappointed. Frozen water bottles in the air vents was the air conditioner. My dad was cheap and very tight with money. Never had a big engine car till he bought a 1971 Caprice, it had a 400 small block that came standard, that was too big for him even though my grandpa had one of the first service stations in Nashville

    Like 0
  23. mark r

    Little soapnwater never hurt nothing either

    Like 0

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