Mike Baldwin of Baltimore, Maryland, contacted us one day to see if we would be interested in taking a look at his '68 Barracuda. Well, you know us, we are always on the lookout for cool cars. After looking at the photos he sent us, we decided to shoot a feature on his car. But when we asked him for some information about the car, he gave us so much we figured we would just let him tell the story.
"It was 1977, I was 18 and just bought my first high-performance Mopar. It was a '70 Road runner, powered by a 383 and backed by a 727 transmission. It was the fastest car I had ever driven, and I spent way too much time and money making it even faster. My dad was a Baltimore City police officer at the time, and I can't say how many times he'd be waiting by the front door, shaking his head when I came home.
To get a truly "race-bred"...
To get a truly "race-bred" Hemi, Mike went to see Ray Barton Racing Engines in Pennsylvania. True to Ray's abilities, this thing looks as good as it goes.
"In early 1979, I met my wife Cathy while the Road Runner and I were waiting in line for fuel during the gas shortage. In late 1979, I sold the Runner in preparation to get married. For several years following the sale of the Road Runner, I wanted another Mopar, but with four children, it was impossible. When my son Michael started to show interest in cars in 1999, I couldn't resist convincing my wife to let us do a father/son project.
"As luck would have it, I was able to find the car I'd been dreaming about for a long time--a '68 Barracuda fastback! My son and I were both impressed by its stance and aggressive look. We spent the entire day filming, driving, reviewing documentation, and drooling over the car. Finally, the deal was done, and we owned our Barracuda. Dave Dettloffteh, the previous owner, started the restoration in 1997 and completed the body work in late 2000.
"The car went through an extensive restification, with the quarter-panels, floorpans, and doors replaced. Also, fiberglass fenders and hood were added to the mix. Jim Tech, Inc. of Clinton Township, Michigan, performed the show car-worthy paint job. The car is wired using a Painless Wiring system, and Auto Rod controllers operate all the electronics. The Chrysler Electronic Ignition/MSD box controls the spark all the way up to 7,000 rpm. The dash is now a smooth piece of aluminum with Auto meter gauges to monitor the engine and transmissions vitals.
"Surrounding the interior is a ten-point rollcage. tub work by P.S.I. in Sterling Heights, Michigan, covers the big 32x17.5x15 Mickey Thompson tires. The interior has two JAZ racing seats with Simpson seatbelts. Even though the car has a racy appearance, the interior is fully carpeted with black loop carpet and a black headliner.
"Hours were spent on the Internet searching for replacement parts: headlight bezels, taillights, rear trunk trim, chrome moldings, and so on.
"In July 2004, I visited Ray Barton's shop in Robesonia, Pennsylvania, and met Ray. I was impressed with their extensive knowledge and willingness to spend time answering my numerous questions. I knew the Hemi-into-an-A-Body conversion was not going to be easy, but Ray offered several suggestions, showed me some of his customers' cars, and offered his Hemi resin block for fitment while my motor was being built.
The Cheetah SCS Competition...
The Cheetah SCS Competition shifter.
The dash now consists of a...
The dash now consists of a machined piece of aluminum filled with Auto Meter gauges.
It looks almost too clean...
It looks almost too clean to be such a race-bred door slammer. JAZ racing seats and a Cheetah SCS Competition shifter adorn the interior, as well as full carpeting.
"The right-side inner fender/shock tower needed to be reworked, the master cylinder needed the offset kit, the frame needed to be notched for the headers, and the cross ram was tight against the firewall. Fitting the headers around the stock suspension and steering was a nightmare. I had previously ordered a new set of Hedman Hemi A-Body headers, and as it turned out, three of the tubes needed to be reworked. Then, they were sent to Jet Hot Coatings. they now look great with their Sterling Finish.
It's tough to see, but Mike...
It's tough to see, but Mike had "528 Hemi" painted on top of the S/S hoodscoop.
"Dave Vrankin and I started to work on the engine compartment modifications. I took this opportunity to clean up the frame and remove the old motor mount supports. Once done, the inner fender/shock tower, frame, and steering box looked new.
"I visited Ray's shop several times during the engine build process, and I had the opportunity to see my block and heads machined and tested at different stages. At first, I was a little nervous about the shortage of blocks from Mopar Performance, but Craig and Ray came through to keep pace with my deadline. Ray agreed to shave a little bit off the back right corner of the cross-ram intake since clearance was an issue, and Craig talked me into powdercoating the cross-ram.
"We installed the Mopar Performance master cylinder offset kit. An Aeromotive A-1000 fuel pump was also installed. Dave Vrankin talked me into dressing up the Super Stock hood, so I made a stencil, and we painted a silver 528 Hemi symbol on the top of the scoop to match the silver fade-a-way stripe on the bottom of the car. It's tough to see because it has a ghost effect; we didn't want it to overpower the hood.
"Finally, the motor was ready for the dyno. Craig Serra and Ray Barton's team came through. The sound of all that power coming from this motor was awesome. After Dave Barton conducted several runs and adjustments, they finally achieved 832 hp and 712 lb-ft of torque. What a thrill, driving an 830hp car on the street is like no other experience!
"It didn't take long to find out the 5.13 in the rearend was too much gear, and I quickly switched to 4.30s. New QA1 adjustable coil-over shocks and springs were installed, and the aluminum tubs and rear panels were caulked and cleaned in preparation for the new rearend. I took this opportunity to sand, paint, and clear-coat all the four-link bars and rearend.
"Tom Brush Racing weighed the car, totaling 3,283 pounds, and adjusted the four-link suspension, so this car goes straight out of the hole."
Fast Facts Owner: Mike Baldwin, Baltimore, Maryland Car: '68 Plymouth Barracuda fastback Color: Deep purple with silver "ghost" 528 Hemi markings on hood and side stripe Engine: 528-inch Ray Barton-built, cross-rammed Hemi. Dual Holley vacuum-secondaries, Hedman headers, Jet Hot coated Transmission: 727 TorqueFlite automatic, LPW deep-finned pan, 8-inch, 5,000-stall converter, Cheetah SCS Competition shifter Rearend: Dana 60 with 4.30 gears and Detroit Locker, four-link rear suspension Wheels/Tires Front: Weld Pro Stars with 205/75x15 tires Wheels/Tires Rear: Weld Pro Stars with Mickey Thompson ET Street 32x17.5x15 tires Quarter-Mile: N/A
Down to bare metal, the restoration...
Down to bare metal, the restoration can begin.
Even with a smaller tube header,...
Even with a smaller tube header, Mike had to modify the Hedman headers to fit inside the tight engine compartment.
Lowering a Ray Barton-built...
Lowering a Ray Barton-built powerhouse between the fenders is a tough job. The people at the Hurst Company did it in 1968, and we're sure they will all attest to that.