Real Potential: 1965 Plymouth Barracuda

The Barracuda was introduced in 1964, a few weeks ahead of the Mustang, but wasn’t a big success like the Mustang. The Barracuda looks a lot more like a Valiant than the Mustang looks like the Falcon it’s based on. The Barracuda was even marketed as a “Plymouth Valiant Fastback”.  This one is listed on Craigslist in Brookings, South Dakota for $10,950. There’s little in the description except for the claim that there’s no rust and the implication is that it runs and drives. It does look promising in the selective photos in the listing. Thanks to Rocco B. for the tip on this interesting find.

The inside isn’t perfect but it looks much nicer than most. It does have bucket seats and a console. With a little work on the driver’s seat and some cleaning, the interior could be pretty nice.

Here’s the 273 CID V8 with about 180 HP. This is what you hope to find under the hood. It’s original, unmolested and rust free.  Sadly, it is also very basic with none of the goodies we would like to see and an automatic transmission is an option better left unselected. Perhaps a boosted dual master cylinder and front disk brakes should be the first upgrade. It seems younger folks can’t live without power steering and AC would really be nice. There are, of course, lots of bits that could bring that little 273 to life.

Pictures like these make you wonder just what the seller might be hiding. If this Barracuda is as nice as the seller wants us to think, it could be a nice driver just the way it is. These little A-bodies have lots of potential, though. One might begin with upgraded brakes and subframe connectors. One could even bolt on an aftermarket subframe with modern steering, suspension, and brakes. Engine upgrades are pretty much unlimited. I would add AC and drive this pretty much like it is, but I can imagine this little car as a mild sleeper with modern steering, brakes, and suspension with just enough power to keep things interesting. If this Barracuda is as nice as it looks, what do you think someone might be willing to pay for it?


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  1. JW

    IMHO this car screams restomod. 340 or 383 with a 4 speed, power steering, dual master cylinder with front disc, maybe a upgrade rearend from a later model Challeger or Cuda with some fat meats out back. Clean up the interior and paint the exterior a bright yellow with a black racing stripe down the hood, oh and a set of dual Magnaflows.

    • thomas j schweikert

      yup a modern 340 should sit right down in it perfectly

  2. Moparmann Member

    @JW: My brother had one, did just as you opinioned, added one 69 Dart 340, and 4 speed transmission. Was one quick car!! :-)

  3. TriPowerVette

    It just screams for a Hemi under the backlight.

    • Rube Goldberg Member

      What do you think, TPV, did they do this as a planned stunt,( it is Hollywood) or a real screwup?

      • TriPowerVette

        There is ‘0’ possibility they destroyed the HHUG for a stunt. Comedian Eddie Griffin would lay waste to a Ferrari Enzo for a stunt, but not this. Breaks my heart.

      • boxdin

        I do believe it was an accident or rather, human error, and the driver (Bob Riggle?) was severely embarrassed and distraught coz he just smashed up his freshly built comeback car.
        As you can see the track is very bumpy at that corner and clearly he was going too fast plus the stiffly sprung car just bounced over.

      • PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

        I do believe that I read a comment by the driver who said he should have known that the surface was too short and not prepared properly for what he was doing.

        I’m sure that it is repaired by now.

    • thomas j schweikert

      i recall someone did the hemi rearengine thing

      • Jerry Brentnell

        yes hurst had a wheel stander called hemi under glass painted gold and black

  4. glen

    Odd man out here, but I like it as is! It’s a complete car.

  5. Rube Goldberg Member

    Right out of HS, I had a friend with a car like this, only a slant 6 and a 4 speed. He beat the heck out of it, like all of us did with our cars, and it began using a lot of oil. Another car with 60% STP in the oil. He could almost predict when it would blow a big cloud of smoke. Very rare car today. Agreed, this be a great car to update.

  6. 8banger dave Member

    This tugs at my heartstrings, as I once had a ’66 with the same engine, console, black gut, etc…original red with black over stripes, car was in perfect condition…I paid $800 for it back in ’90…Har!

  7. Chuck

    Keep it as it is. Update brakes, headers, mild cam and efi carburetor. I even like the color!
    Having an automatic is how it survived not being wrapped around a pole 40 years ago.

  8. ancientpilot

    A hemi like my friends green-beast would work well too.

  9. matt

    I believe this car originally was in Huron SD. I just about bought in 1979 for 1,000 dollars. But I opted for a pickup

  10. Rock On Member

    Nothing sound sweeter than a high compression, solid lifter, 340 with headers, and I’m a big block Chevy fan!

  11. dan

    Miss my 65 which was my first car. Got really good at putting rear ends in it though. In and out in 30 minutes. Loved to race it

  12. Robert G Thomas

    I remember walking to middle school in NJ and seeing one of these fastbacks in the yard of a house practically every morning. The car was really cool in its day.

  13. Maestro1

    I would keep it as it is, adding convenience as I drove it, but certainly disc brakes very soon after purchase.

  14. Troy s

    It’s no wonder that the mustang outsold this car; if only they hadn’t used so much glass back there! Of the ’60’s cudas I like the ’68-69 fastbacks far more than these.

  15. stillrunners LAWRENCE Member

    Yep….you can see in the video when the HHUG hit that first bump after settled down was when it got loose on him.

    Nice little Cuda….would need a closer look …still on the high side but nice one’s are hard to find…..again…..just not for everyone.

  16. johnj

    Whenever I see one of these, it reminds me of the one in the movie The Wraith. I always thought these were cool, just not as cool as the 67-69’s

  17. albert gilliam

    this is my baby!

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