Sometimes car buyers win. In the early to mid 1960s, buyers wanted sporty compacts and Detroit scrambled to give buyers what they wanted. One of Chrysler’s efforts was to take the A-body Plymouth Valiant add a fastback and some new body panels to create the Plymouth Barracuda. By using the Valiant bones, Chrysler was able to get the 1964 Plymouth Barracuda to market two weeks before Ford was able to launch the Mustang. But the Ford Mustang significantly outsold the Barracuda and many other later competitors, such as the Rambler Marlin, AMC Javelin or AMX or Chevrolet Corvair and went on to created the “Pony Car” craze.
1964 Plymouth Barracuda
The first generation Barracuda used the Valiant’s 106 in wheelbase and the Valiant hood, headlamp bezels, windshield, vent windows, quarter panels and bumpers. All other body panels and glass were new. By starting with the Valiant, Chrysler significantly reduced the development time and tooling cost for the Barracuda. The fastback body shape was achieved by using a giant backlight, which wrapped down to the fender line.
Powertrains were identical to the Valiant’s. The standard-equipment engine had a piston displacement of 170 cubic inches and an output of 101 bhp; the optional 225 cubic inch engine raised the power output to 145 bhp. The highest power option for 1964 was the then all new Chrysler 273 cubic inch V8, which produced 180 bhp. The 1964 was the only year the Barracuda offered the push-button control of the optional Torqueflite automatic transmission. A rare car if you can find it.
1965 Plymouth Barracuda
In 1965, the base engine was the 225 slant-6 in the U.S. market. New options included the 273 engine available with an upgraded Commando version 4-barrel carburetor, 10.5:1 compression, a more aggressive camshaft with solid tappets. These and other upgrades increased the e273 engine output to 235 bhp. Disc brakes and factory-installed air conditioning became available after the start of the 1965 model year. The Barracuda offered a Formula ‘S’ package in 1965. It included the Commando V8 engine, suspension upgrades, larger wheels and tires, special emblems and a tachometer.
1966 Plymouth Barracuda
For 1966, the Barracuda received a mild refresh that included new taillights, new front sheet metal and a new dashboard, with optional oil pressure and tachometer gauges. A Barracuda specific stylized fish logo was introduced. Deluxe models featured fender-top turn signal indicators with a stylized fin. The bumpers were larger. The Deluxe also came with a distinctive grille. A center console was optional for the first time.
Chrysler redesigned the Plymouth Barracuda for 1967.
To find your own Pony Car or to sell your Pony Car, see the listings in Classics for Sale.