By Sam Locklin
It is now time to stand up and speak out about what it will take for Chrysler to build a new successful Barracuda that will not loose the mystique of the older ‘Cudas. If success to Chrysler means putting out a mass-produced car that meets the needs of everyone, name it something else and do not ruin the namesake and legend of the Barracuda.
Rumors about the release of the new Plymouth Barracuda are starting to surface again and it is important that Chrysler learns from the past and gets it right. Talk is that the new Barracuda is going to be released in 2015, look like half the new cars on the road today, and even have a 4-cylinder engine option. The good news is that a 6.2 liter supercharged Hemi, rated somewhere from 520-650 hp — remains (and has all but been confirmed), according to Allpar.com . Anyone that has ever built a 650hp car knows that it will not be cheap. The pictures below show the proposed Barracuda and other cars that don’t look all that too far off from the Barracuda. The 2007 Hyundai Genesis Concept car looks the closest with the bulging rear fenders. Are these the cars you think of when you say American Muscle?
Taking my ‘Cudas to car shows and seeing the look on the faces and reactions of the young and the old is a great feeling. Many people have told me over the years the ‘Cuda is the car they always dreamed of owning. I hear this all the time. The thing that made the Barracuda the ultimate and iconic muscle car of it era besides it’s relatively limited production from 1964 – 1974 was its clean lines and muscular stance that shouted “Don’t Mess With Me”. Sit low in the seat, look over the bulging hood of a ‘Cuda, start the car, hear the distinct Mopar rumble, and hold on as you feel the power.
The 1970 Barracuda I owned back in the 70’s with a 318 V8 and two-barrel carburetor was exciting to drive even if it was not the more infamous Hemi. It was flat out quick. It was not as fast as the 340 ‘Cuda’s I own today but it held its own. I always liked muscle cars, but for some reason I loved that car and so did everyone that saw it. I knew at the time that I had something that was rare and special.
It was a very sad day when someone hit my car and totaled it. The eyewitness driving behind them was a friend of theirs who told the police that I ran a stop sign two blocks from my home. They were supposedly going 30mph when they hit my car, spun it around in a complete circle, and the Barracuda ended up in someone’s yard. All that damage happened while they were going 30mph or so they say. I was a poor college student who could not afford full coverage insurance so my car got parted out. It took about a week to get over the shock and realize that I lost the car. I even saved a paint chip off of the car and still have it to this day. The memories of that car will remain with me forever.
I needed a car but finding another Barracuda, even in 1977 was no easy task. I bought a 1972 Challenger with a 383 Magnum. It was a pretty good car but for some reason did not seem to have the power of my old Barracuda. I kept the car for a month and traded it in for the 1972 Plymouth ‘Cuda with a 340 that I still own today. It took a lot of looking before I finally found my ‘Cuda. The people that owned ‘Cudas did not want to sell them.
After graduating from college I was in the market to buy a new car and retire the ‘Cuda as my daily driver. Being raised on Chrysler products did not leave me much to choose from and the 4-cylinder Mitsubishi built Dodge Challenger was about my only affordable choice. What was I thinking? The 1980 Challenger was my first brand new car or was it a 1979? To this day, I barely remember the car. I totally forgot that it got wrecked until I ran across some old pictures. What I do remember is an OK car but pretty boring to drive. Not that a car has to be a head turner, but darn it, we are are talking about a Challenger. Plymouth’s version was a Sapporo and I am so glad they did not name it a Barracuda.
Then we come to today’s American Muscle cars. The Dodge Challenger of today is a huge improvement over the so-called Dodge Challenger of the 80’s. Chrysler must not be happy that it is not selling as many of the Challengers as Chevrolet’s Camaro and Ford’s Mustang. The Challenger is bigger and heavier than the Challenger of the 70’s and the cost is on the high end of today’s muscle cars which may have something to do with sales. Mustang did something right because the cars have stayed as close as possible to its origin. When you see a Mustang, there is no mistaking it for any other car out there. That is the direction Chrysler needs to take. Keep the unique Barracuda styling while giving it a modern look. Make it fast with its own distinct sound and make it a car that its owners are proud to own. Make it a car they will never forget.
Come on Chrysler. Do the right thing, even if it means going back to the drawing board. You waited this long. We have received much feedback from fellow Barracuda enthusiasts on Facebook and without fail, they all agree with my assessment. If you can’t or won’t take my advice then call it a Sapporo and allow the Plymouth Barracuda to remain the iconic muscle car of all time.
Enjoy the Ride,
’Cuda Brothers – Preserving the Barracuda Legend
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