Our "Build It" Dream Combo: Fill one boxy, overlooked sedan with a stout 450-500hp 360. Bolt an 833 four-speed behind it and finish the drivetrain off with an 831/44 filled with 3.91 gears. The exterior should be painted white with a matte black hood rolling on Rallye wheels. The stock bench-seat interior should be redone in a twin shade of blue. Yep, it's on its way.
When Plymouth restyled the Barracuda for '67, what had been considered a somewhat ungainly Valiant derivative was immediately recognized as a masterpiece of design. Available as a fastback, a notchback coupe, or a convertible, the second-generation A-Body Barracuda is recognized as a highwater mark for performance automotive styling in the '60s.
The automotive press flipped over the clean, sexy looks, while powertrain options included big-block 383 power, and later the 340 and (rare) 440 versions. The Barracuda's performance options didn't disappoint true gearheads. With the release of the Hurst-built SuperStock Hemi Barracuda cars in '68, the performance mystique of the second-gen 'Cuda was galvanized to legendary status.
Ironically, the second-generation Barracuda sold only moderately well, with Chrysler moving just a fraction of the numbers later turned in by the Duster, or by the Dart line over at the Dodge division. As a result, '67-'69 "B" Cudas are rather scarce today. Unique parts such as sheetmetal and trim take considerably more effort to source compared to some of the more common A-Body derivatives. The original lines penned some 35 years ago still convey the unmistakable look of performance today.
What We Like: How can you not like the styling? Beyond the clean lines, these Barracudas were exceptionally well-appointed automobiles in terms of trim inside and out. The resized A-Body platform for '67 had just enough room to squeeze a big-block between the fenders.
What We Hate: They just didn't build enough of them. While it's nice to be exclusive, a resto project today requires considerable legwork to collect the unique body parts.
The Factory Dream Combo: For the drags, the SuperStock Hemi cars cooked the books on "factory" performance, taking the title as the ultimate musclecars. For real life, a 340/727 Formula S fastback with air is what we'd like. That's a comfy, stylish, handling, take-anywhere road car with teeth.
Our "Build It" Dream Combo: How about a '68 fastback, black, with big and littles on vintage mags, a 600-plus horsepower 7,500 rpm 383, and Hooker 2-inch fenderwell headers? Well, that's what we're building.
Dart '70-'76The Dodge Dart entered the '70s as one of the most successful car lines in Chrysler's history. Mildly restyled for the '70 model year, the squared-off lines were rounded front and rear, resulting in a less aggressive look. Although factory performance was still alive that year with the hot Swinger 340, the GTS and big-blocks were gone from factory A-Bodies. In '71 the Swinger 340 was gone, and the Dart became a bread-and-butter transportation car, softened each year until the end in 1976. While the performance models were terminated early on, production volumes for these cars were high, and the survival rate extraordinary. There are lots of '70s Darts around, and they can still be found cheap.
Although factory performance made its last stand for only one year in the '70 Dart, the clean lines remained. Any of the early performance drivetrain components can be bolted into these cars, making them a ready platform for a high-performance build. Many of the later Darts were 318-equipped, making a swap to a hotter small-block a simple transplant. By 1973 the wheel bolt pattern was, for the first time, changed to the common 5 on 411/42-inch bolt circle used on Chrysler's other car lines, and front disc brakes became the norm in later cars. Rear brakes were upgraded as well, and the common 811/44 rear in most V8 cars is suitable for moderate performance duty in street applications. The earlier models are generally less cluttered and lighter weight than the last of the line.