Some project Mopars are built, then enjoyed. Jim and Zach Dodgen's '65 Barracuda Formula S is one that's been built, enjoyed, rebuilt, and enjoyed again.
Several years ago, Zach and his father Jim located this first-gen fish near their Northglenn, Colorado, home. It's an original Formula S with a stock 273 and Hurst-shifted four-speed. "We kind of messed around with it and drove it that way for about four or five years." Zach recalls. "Then, we decided that it was time for a crate engine and, basically, a total teardown and rebuild."
Engine: A Mopar Performance...
Engine: A Mopar Performance 360 Magnum crate engine was a drop-in swap for the original 273.
Fortunately, they didn't have to replace any of the not-yet-reproduced trim, or the fishbowl rear window. "We did have to track down a new grille and front lower valance," says Zach. "Other than that, the body was in real good shape."
As Jim was working at Northglenn Dodge at the time, a replacement for the 273 was as near as that dealer's parts department. "We put a 380-horsepower 360 crate engine in it," Zach says of the no-replacement-for-displacement LA-engine swap. "That, obviously, made a night and day difference."
That engine's output made a difference in one crucial area--traction, especially with the wheels and tires they had been running. "We'd been having problems with hooking up," Zach recalls. "We did have some 31x10.50s on there, but we dropped down to 28s. That helped our top end, but we're still working on it. It's still fun, nonetheless."
Fender flares: Subtle (?)...
Fender flares: Subtle (?) fender flares on the rear make room for wider-than-stock rims and rubber without rubbing the original A-Body ’Cuda. Paint is PPG’s Viper Yellow.
How much fun? "It's a blast!" says Zach without hesitation. "We race it out here at Bandimere. We're still tinkering with it, but the best we've run so far is 13.40 (in the quarter-mile)." He adds, "I know there's still another second there."
What will help them find that second (or more) in the quarter-mile? "We'd like to put nitrous on it at some point," says Zach. One other change they've considered is replacing the 833. "We've toyed with the idea of taking the four-speed out and putting an automatic in it, just for drivability's sake," he says. "But, you then take away all the fun."
Interior: The rollbar and...
Interior: The rollbar and Simpson harnesses add safety, while the 3R Racing seats add style.
When it comes to the fun of looking for a project Mopar, Zach has this advice. "Find the absolute cleanest car you can, and make it your own. Clean cars are getting harder and harder to find for a decent price, especially the A-Bodies. Now, they're starting to gain popularity, in a heartbeat."
Especially when Mopar folks see what Zach —and his dad—did with their fish.
'65 Plymouth Barracuda Formula S
Owned by: Jim and Zach Dodgen, Northglenn, Colorado
- Engine: A Mopar Performance 360 crate engine replaced the original 273
- Transmission: 833 four-speed with a Hurst shifter
- Rearend: 8-3/4 with A-Body big bolt pattern axle shafts and 4.10 gears
- Suspension: Stock '65 Barracuda (front torsion bars, rear leaf springs, and tubular shocks all around)
- Brakes: Stock '65 Barracuda
- Wheels and Tires: American Racing Wheels aluminum wheels (small bolt pattern in front) at all corners wear Mickey Thompson tires
- Body: Original '65 Barracuda unibody needed a new grille and front lower valance, plus the Dodgens flared the rear fenders and added the hoodscoop
- Paint: PPG Viper Yellow two-stage
- Interior: 3R Racing seats, Simpson harnesses and AutoMeter gauges inside an otherwise stock cabin