We should call him Detective Keith Wysocki for all the research he had to do to finish his Barracuda. The Whittier, California, 31-year old-who hails from a multi-generational Chrysler family-snooped his way around the country for this car project. But first, a little about the car-then we'll tell you about the search and recovery. And, yes, this involves a rare find sitting for many years in a field. A mystery, to be sure.
The car, a '69 Sunfire Yellow Formula-S convertible with a stock 340 engine, sports a 110-inch wheelbase with front disc and rear drum brakes that stop the 14-inch Redline Goodyears. The 8 3/4 rear has a 3.23:1 gearset. The engine is from Keith's '69 Dodge Dart, something he raced when he was 22.
The stock pistons, crankshaft, and steel crank help build 10.25:1 compression. A .502-inch lift cam and ported and polished heads keep the engine humming. Speaking of humming, exhaust fumes are sent through Flowmaster two-chamber mufflers.
The interior's Sungold Yellow material is part of the mystery. The bucket seats and woodgrain steering wheel look great with the top down, cruising the coast, winning car shows, or other fun-in-the-sun pursuits. And the black carpeting complements the combination.
Now, on to the search part of our story. When Keith was in his mid-twenties, he picked up a Recycler Paper at the Chrysler Spring Fling in California. He'd always wanted an A-Body convertible, and the advertisement for the $1,700 Formula-S 340 convertible got his engine roaring. It listed the vehicle as a little banged up. However, a guy at the show knew of the car and told him, frankly, it was trashed.
"To say it was a little banged up," says Keith, "is putting it mildly." After arranging to see the "banged-up" specimen, Keith met the owner in a field (what is it about barns and fields that tend to attract old Mopars?) and laid his eyes on what he could only describe as "a rolling chassis."
"Seeing the before photos really makes you appreciate the completed car," he says. "About 80 percent of the car was there, but most of it was in boxes and crates. I didn't know what it was equipped with."
It originally came with a standard 150-speedometer and tach, but all that was gone. Someone must have tried to swap it out.
Putting on his Sherlock Holmes hat, Keith tried to track down any info on the car's history. In the glove box he found a dentist's receipt from Greensboro, North Carolina. Following that trail, he eventually found his way to Waynesboro, Georgia (lots of boros), just outside of Augusta-home of the Masters Golf Tourney. Interestingly enough, Keith used to live near Augusta before moving to California. His family still does. So his family, and The Southern Moparts Club, helped him track down the original owner, who sold the Barracuda to a buyer from Van Nuys, California, years earlier. That's how it moved from one coast to the other.
The California buyer purchased it for a restoration. But then California politics nipped that plan in the bud. You see, that owner had his car in a shop for the restoration, but a new California emissions standard shuttered the shop. All the ongoing car projects in the shop had to be jettisoned. The shop owner called and told the guy to come get the Barracuda. Which he did. And stuck it in a field, to be salvaged 16 years later by Keith.
Keith and his good friend Russ Kugelman completed the whole project themselves-not an easy task. Keith owns his own shop, but specializes in larger commercial vehicles, not classic muslecars. When the two of them started calling around for parts, they hit the proverbial brick wall more times than not. For example, the car needed two doors and two fenders. Keith and Russ called around everywhere, but couldn't find what they needed. So, instead, they spent several months hand-working and filing the original doors and fenders to the showroom-quality you see today. They heated the steel, shrunk it, and pushed it with a dolly.