It took only three days for John and Ed to shred the A-Body down to little bitty piles of nuts and bolts. Everything on the project car was taken off, sorted, labeled, and stored. "It was a fantastic one-of-a-kind experience," Ed recalled. "There are not a lot of people who've had this kind of opportunity. After all, how many people get to assemble and fabricate a car from the ground up?" Ed worked alongside John throughout the entire build, learning what every clip, pin, and bolt was for. The goal was to retain the Barracuda's original appearance, but upgrade and improve every aspect of the car's behavior--the suspension, drivetrain, and interior amenities--with better materials and technology.

John has a policy of working on only one car at a time, so he was able to focus all his skills on this car. Once the cage and subframes were installed, and the rear hubs were cut and spread into massive barrel-sized mini-tubs, the pair turned their attention to the suspension. With wheelwells this large, Ed chose to run some pretty meaty tires. to keep those shoes planted to the asphalt, John chose to install Mopar Performance Super Stock leaf springs to the rear, mounted to the hefty Dana 60. The differential was filled with a Power Lock Center with 4.10 gears and Strange 35-spline axles. The front was more than a little modern with RMS coilover shocks and a Flaming River rack-and-pinion all attached to an AlerKation K-frame.

Many will testify that the hardest part of a Hemi build is finding the Hemi. With Ed's purchase, he was lucky enough not to have to look at all. The cost of a disassembled 426 elephant was part of the final tab. Vic Fera of Merritt Island, Florida, was consigned to the powerplant build. The block was bored .030-over and filled with classic 440-6 Pack connecting rods, a STD chrome Hemi crank, and J&38;E 11:1 pistons. Mopar Performance aluminum heads were gasket matched and had some bowl work done. A hydraulic roller cam was chosen because a roller setup is considered the safest thing to handle the Hemi's high revolutions. An aluminum cross-ram with Hemi-correct dual Holley 770 carbs pump in the air and gas. JW Performance out of Rockledge, Florida, rebuilt the 727 TorqueFlite with a B&38;M shift kit and a Turbo Action 10-inch 3,300-stall torque converter. A Hurst Quarter-Stick with a handmade cover delegates the shifts, while the tall gears and high stall snap off the hard launches.

John and Ed tackled the interior work with all Legendary materials. New seat covers, door panels, and carpet were all dark blue and easily installed. Out-of-the-box, silver-faced Auto meter gauges were mounted to the steering column and under the dash to read off the vitals. Interestingly enough, this Barracuda came from the factory floor with a rare-optioned tachometer, which still resides next to the stock speedometer. In Super Stock fashion, Ed opted to go without the radio or climate control since this was, after all, a race car.

With everything all but complete within a neck-snapping six months, the Barracuda was wheeled off for paint and body work. Bill Haskell at Rick Perry's Body Shop in St. Cloud straightened every inch of the little A-Body to better-than-factory proportions. Rick mixed a custom concoction of basecoat/clearcoat, aptly labeled Billet Silver.

Two short months later, the Barracuda was brought home. Amazed at the final product, Ed drove the Hemi 'Cuda to the nearest Florida event, where the A-Body was awarded Best of Show. A First Place award at the "Big Daddy" Garlits show in Ocala, Florida, quickly followed.

Sure, the car might be noticed for its amazing craftsmanship and clean appearance, but the Barracuda was meant to do only one thing: turn those tires into inky black smears. And it does that well. -MM