1968 Chrysler Barracuda
Article and Photos by Etienne Fouche
Mopar, saying the word always puts a smile on my face. You see, the Chrysler Corporation is very close to my heart. Ask anyone that knows me…it’s always been Mopar or no Car. All Chrysler cars are cool… all of them, but my favourite without a doubt are the 67 to 69 Barracudas. Oddly and in some ways detrimental is the fact that they were distributed and sold under the Valiant name in South Africa. It’s always been a bit of an irritancy for me that very few South Africans know how significant these cars really are. So I would love to set the record straight right here and now…apart from the crappy English Girling brake systems, the steering box that bolts to the right hand side chassis rail rather than the K-member and the fact that it’s a right hand drive car…….it’s 100% Plymouth. And No! I it is not an Australian car either. Please feel free to share this with absolutely everyone.
The second generation Barracuda was Plymouth’s counter attack against Fords famous Mustang and Chevy’s Camaro. The second generation Cuda’s sold pretty well, but not close to the numbers that General Motors and the Ford Motor Company were cashing in. Where they did dominate, however was Drag racing. While Ford and Carroll Shelby was kicking womanising Ferrari ass on the International race circuit, Mopar was dominating NHRA Drag Racing in a big way. The most famous of their quarter mile arsenal was the Hemi Dart and the 68 Hemi Cuda. Campaigned famously by the likes of Sox and Martin, Arlen Vanke etc. Packing a 426 cubic inch Hemispherical combustion chambered big block V8 with a 3 speed 727 Torqueflight or A833 4 speed manual.
They killed anything and everything down the quarter mile. Let’s not forget the Hemi under glass with rear mounted motor running the whole 400 meter straight on its rear wheels. Even today the power plant of choice when it comes to straight line racing is you guessed it, a Hemi. Knick named “The Elephant Motor” for obvious reasons.
Jacques’s 68 Cuda has a raked stance courtesy of the 275 wide BF’s at the rear and re set leaf springs reminisant of the Hurst race cars….mixed with a Tarantino “Death Proof” and World War 2 menacing presence….Achtung Baby!!! Fronts are 205 – 15’s lining up flush with the wheel arches. I just love the Luftwaffe side markings purposefully sanded and faded for that weathered and war torn look. Inside you find all sorts of well thought out touches and signature add on’s. From the snake skin steering wheel cover, to the Wehrmacht inspired insignia on the seats to the ignition switches hidden inside a dash mounted tin container. Jacques also fabricated his own four point harnesses and reinforced mounting spots for those back street dog fights. He took this car and made it something unique and I must say that it suits him perfectly. So many Muscle Cars and Rods these days are trailer queens, all shiny and worshiped by their owners. My feeling is that it’s pretty darn cool the way that Jacques expressed himself honestly through his Car, while most people are too scared and worried about what the thing to do is, or what the rest of the cool kids will say.
When he took ownership of the Cuda it was white with disgusting Boksburg Boeing 20 inch wheels more suited on a “dolphin shape” M3 rip off. Obviously the wheels were the first to go (good riddance) and period correct 15 inch deep dish alloys took their rightful place inside the wheel wells. The fatter wheels bring out the Coke Bottle curves and muscular overhangs of the body. The chrome trim contrasts with the matt black paint and embellishes the lines and features even further.
Under the hood hides the famous kanniedood 3.7 litre “slant 6”, drenched in the same WW2 and almost Rat Rod mix. The long cast intake manifold still proudly rocking the stock two barrel Carter Carburettor. The torquey long stroke 6 cylinder exhales through tubular headers with no silencer and sounds pretty brutal. There is a possible turbo charged conversion in the near future or V8 engine swop. Either way it will go hand in hand with the look of this War Fish.