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Automotive trends in the early to mid 1960s had all the US automakers looking at making sporty compact cars to satiate the buying public’s fatigue with giant road-gobbling behemoths that typified the previous decade’s offerings. To provide a solution, Chrysler’s A-body Plymouth Valiant was chosen for the company’s efforts in this direction. Ford’s Falcon-based Mustang, which significantly outsold the Barracuda, gave this type of vehicle its common “pony car” moniker, but in fact the Plymouth Barracuda fastback’s release on the first of April, 1964 beat the Mustang by two weeks. Plymouth’s executives wanted to name the car Panda but this idea was thankfully unpopular with the car’s designers. In the end, John Samsen’s suggestion of ‘Barracuda’ was selected. Although the first Barracudas were heavily based on the contemporary Valiants, Plymouth wanted them perceived as a distinct model. Consequently, the “Valiant” chrome script that appeared on the 1964 model’s trunk lid was phased out on the 1965 model. For 1966, a Barracuda-specific stylized fish logo was introduced as the car’s own emblem until the A-body Barracuda was discontinued after 1969.
As the pony car class became established and competition increased, Plymouth began to revise the Barracuda’s engine options. While the 225 slant-6 was still the base engine, the V8 options in 1967 ranged from the 2-barrel and 4-barrel versions of the 273 to a seldom-ordered 383ci, the latter available only with the Formula S package. In 1968 the 273 was replaced by the 318ci LA engine as the smallest V8 available, and the new 340ci?LA 4bbl was released as the next price point upwards. For 1969, Chrysler’s largest V8, the 440ci RB big-block powerhouse wedge engine with 4-barrel carburetor became available, and there was even a limited production of 50 Super-Stock, non-street legal, Hemi-powered Barracudas built in 1968 solely for use in drag racing. With fiberglass hoods and front fenders and light steel doors, these Hemi-powered Barracudas were capable of quarter-mile times of under 11 seconds at top speeds of over 130 mph.
It was from this influence that the 1970 Barracuda finally lost all commonality with the Valiant. The all-new 1970 model was built on a shorter, wider version of Chrysler’s existing B platform, which was called the E-body. The aging fastback design was deleted from the line, which now consisted of solely of hardtop coupe and convertible models. There was also a Dodge near-twin on the E-body platform known as the Challenger; however, no sheet metal interchanged between the two cars, and the Challenger had a slightly longer wheelbase. Both were aggressively styled, and the high-performance models were marketed as ‘Cuda. The E body’s engine bay was larger than that of the previous A-body, facilitating the release of Chrysler’s 426ci/425hp Hemi for the regular retail market. Stylistically, the Barracuda was changed slightly for 1971, with a new grille and taillights. This would be the only year that the Barracuda would have four headlights, and also the only year of the fender “gills” on the ‘cuda model. The 1971 Barracuda engine options would remain the same as that of the 1970 model, except that all 440-powered Barracudas had a six-barrel carburetor setup instead of being an optional extra over the 4 barrel “Magnum” engine.
Offered here is an all-numbers-matching 1971 Hemi ‘Cuda Hardtop coupe. Only 107 Hemi ‘Cudas rolled off the production line this model year, and of these, only 59 were equipped with a 4-speed manual transmission. Completely restored top and bottom, it is finished in its very desirable orignal B-5 Blue Metallic hue over a black vinyl bucket seat interior and heavily optioned, including Shaker hood, Dana 60 rear axle, 15×7 Rally wheels, painted racing mirrors, woodgrain steering wheel and center console and rally instrumentation. Subject to a recent Galen Govier visual inspection, Mr. Govier was documented as commenting that “this car has a near-perfect restoration” and graded it a 1.4 on a scale of 1 to 6. It is noted that many small details have been corrected since his inspection to bring the car closer to #1 condition throughout.
If you’ve been looking for one of the finest Hemi ‘Cudas anywhere, you may have just discovered perhaps the best example currently for sale anywhere and at any price.