Double-pumper: Keeping the 502hp 340 fed is this 750-cfm Holley double-pumper.
Have you ever dreamed about finding your first car again -- but feared what had happened to it in the years since you let it go?
That’s what Andy Lengel faced when he rediscovered his first ride, a ’67 Plymouth Barracuda hardtop, in a salvage yard. “You could actually walk through it,” he says. “There were trees on it, growing up through it, and leaves were up over the dash and coming out where the windshield was, and over the engine compartment.”
Despite having almost all bolt-on parts missing, there was enough left to identify it as his -- two stickers he’d put on a rear quarter window while in high school. “I almost cried when I came around the corner and saw those,” Andy recalls. “I was like, ‘Oh my God -- I’ve got to have it back!’”
Once Andy got the Fish back in his possession, the real work began on the originally Slant-Six–powered Plymouth that he’d long ago bought from his grandfather, who ordered it new. “I always wanted to put a V-8 in it, but I could never come up with the money, and I didn’t have the capability to do that when I was a kid,” says Andy.
Wheel: Classic style fronting today’s tech: BFG-shod Torq Thrusts and disc brakes.
Salvage yard: Here’s what Andy’s memories became until he found it resting at a salvage y
That meant replacing the OEM -- and missing -- Leaning Tower of Power. Morgantini Racing Engines built the LA-series small-block he’d had in mind. “It’s a 502-horsepower 340,” says Andy.
Bringing the Fish back to life took time. “It took me a total of 1,800 hours, and about three and a half years, but we have a restoration center here,” he says, mentioning his shop, Restore Automotive Repair in Dalton, Pennsylvania. “I worked on it pretty much full-time, while everybody else was getting mad at me for not doing routine work,” he adds.
Originally painted gray, Andy painted it black soon after he’d bought it from his grandfather, and black it was painted again. (This time, in his shop’s paint booth, using two-stage PPG Black enamel.) He’d thought about adding side-window trim that the ’67 wasn’t built with. “My grandfather was really frugal,” says Andy. “He didn’t want any chrome on it, and he didn’t order it with a radio. I’m thinking I’m going to leave it just as it was, like how my grandfather ordered it.”
But he did put a sound system in it back then, and the ’67 now boasts a Sony/Kicker audio setup. But he does have one regret about what Ma Mopar put on the dash over the stamped-in radio location. “When I was 15 years old and I was going to put a radio in it, I said, ‘What is this thing?’ before I broke it out and flung it, because it was in my way,” he recalls. “It was the radio-delete block-off plate. Now you can’t find the originals.
Shifter: Compound-curved Hurst shifter was factory equipment on four-speed Mopars startin
Stickers: Andy put these stickers on the ’67’s left rear quarter window back when he was
“That was stupid of me to do, but I didn’t know any better.”
A better decision was his choice of rear ends to back the 340. “I had to put a Dana 60 in it,” says Andy. “It would’ve destroyed an 83⁄4 rear, with all the torque and horsepower.”
How is it to drive? Let Andy clue you in. “Going 45-50 mph in third gear up the road -- if you smash the gas, you’ll break the rear wheels loose.” No doubt the ’67’s light weight has a lot to do with that -- the Barracuda hardtop is among the lightest first-year A-Bodies, with a shipping weight under 2,800 pounds with the Slant Six.
I made it into the car that I was sure to get killed in when I was a boy.
If you’re lucky enough to rediscover that first Mopar of yours, or if you’re looking at one for a resto project, Andy has this advice: “It’s got to be the car that you love, because you truly have to love it to get through it. You have to have that dedication and motivation to do it, both financially and mentally, to come out in the middle of the winter and be out in the garage until one o’clock in the morning on work nights.
With Andy’s Barracuda now in the configuration he dreamed about when it was his first car, what’s not to love about it?
1967 Plymouth Barracuda Hardtop
Andy and Gena Lengel – Dalton, Pennsylvania
|Engine: Morgantini Racing Engines built the 340 with 12.0:1 JE pistons on Eagle rods, and a stock steel crankshaft. A Comp Cams roller camshaft, ported and polished cast-iron factory X heads with Manley 2.02/1.60-inch valves, an Edelbrock intake wearing a Holley 750 double pumper, an MSD billet distributor, and Hooker headers flowing into a custom-bent exhaust system finish the go stuff. On the dyno, this 340 is good for 502 horsepower.
| Transmission: Hurst-shifted 833 four-speed, with a ’68/’69-style compound-curved stick.
|Rear: 3.54-geared Dana 60, stout enough to handle what the 340 can send it.
|Suspension: (Front) Restored ’67 Barracuda with KYB shocks and resto parts from Right Stuff. (Rear) Restored ’67 Barracuda with repop leaf springs and KYB shocks
|Brakes: Drilled and slotted discs at each corner
|Wheels/Tires: American Racing Torq-Thrust IIs (15x7 inches front, 15x8 inches rear) wear BFGoodrich Radial TAs (215/65R15 in front, 255/60R15 rear)
|Paint/Body: Andy brought the original all-steel ’67 Barracuda hardtop unibody back to life in his Restore Automotive shop, with help from parts he found at Carlisle, via eBay, and elsewhere. Paint is two-stage PPG Black.
|Interior: Also done by Andy in his shop, with resto carpets and other items from YearOne, a Grant steering wheel, and a Sony/Kicker sound system.