Aside from the gauges and Pistol Grip shifter that Rob added, everything inside appears fa
Throughout our 2011 Retro issue, there has been a common theme of nostalgic Mopars. It's a look back at the good ole days that shaped the Chrysler hobby for not only the enthusiasts, but us as a magazine. Little did anyone know back then that we would still be writing about and drooling over these cars of the '60s and '70s. One way to remember the days of the past is with a retro theme. One look at Robert Porporino's '69 fish and you can't help but smile and think about the good ol' days.
In 2003, Robert purchased his first Mopar. Since he had to make up for lost time, this happened to be one of the coolest out there--a '66 Coronet built as a pro street car. The Dodge certainly grabbed a lot of attention as awards began to trickle in within the first couple months of owning the car. "I started to bring the car out to local shows and it would draw a crowd everywhere it went," he says. Because of this, a local car club known as the Dayton Raiders asked him to attend a show at Rutt's Hut in Clifton, New Jersey. "I ended up being the only Mopar there," he says.
At this same show, Robert was approached by a man named Anthony, who asked him if he was looking for another Mopar to add to his collection. "He went on about this '69 Barracuda he had with a crazy paint job," he recalls. "I told him I would come take a look at it, but I couldn't really afford to do anything at the time." The two men exchanged contact information and went on their way.
A few weeks went by and the curiosity of Rob got the best of him. He called up Anthony and they set up a time for him to come take a look at the 'Cuda. Rob decided it would also be a good idea to bring his friend, Bob Bartley, who owned a bunch of Mopars and was around them most of his life. "I figured that he knew a lot more about these cars than I did," he concedes. "In the meantime, I was researching Barracudas and their values. Since '68/'69 Barracudas and Dart SS Hemi cars are my favorites, I wanted to see what this car was all about."
When Rob and Bob arrived at Anthony's, they were taken back to the garage. Before opening the doors, Anthony explained that the car had been sitting for at least four years and was extremely dirty. Slowly, the doors separated to reveal the back half of a Barracuda and a set of Mickey Thompson slicks. "My buddy and I took a look at each other and said 'this paint job is nuts!'"
Rob had to know the story behind it and soon Anthony was explaining the details on the car's history. "He said it was an original '69 Barracuda 340 S car with a four-speed and it has been in New Jersey all its life," explains Rob. "The guy who owned it in the '70s tore the original 340 out and put in a 440 with a tunnel ram." The guy was a big street racer in New Jersey and would go out to a place they called "The Hole" with this thing brandishing a pair of 660 carbs and a tunnel ram poking out of the hood. A mental image of this menacing site gave Rob an evil grin. Anthony continued on and told them that something in the motor let go after he smoked the tires through the first three gears so the engine was replaced with something more streetable, and eventually it just sat.
The car ran strong before it went into hibernation so Rob was curious if it would still run. Surely the gas was bad by now and the battery would be dead, so they got some new fuel and a set of jumper cables to see what they could do with it. "Anthony put the jumper cables on it and started turning it over," says Rob. "After he started pumping the pedal, it roared to life and we all started laughing!" They rolled the car out of the garage and let the sun hit the paint. Instantly, even through the thick layer of dirt, the paint popped out and Rob knew he had to have the car. Getting it now, however, just wasn't in the cards. "Anthony said that he wasn't going to list the car and that he would give me first shot," he recalls. He thanked him for showing the car and the two men kept in touch.
"A year went by and I called Anthony up to ask him if I could still buy the car from him," he says. After this confirmation, another call to Bob was placed to ask him if he wanted to come pick the car up with him. They loaded the car up and Bob explained to Rob that he had to keep the car the way it was because it's what made it so unique and he agreed.
The first year Rob had the car, he cleaned it up and bought a set of 452 heads from a friend. They were fully ported by Indy Cylinder Head and freshened up by Bill Cirelli from Cirelli Racing Engines in Paterson, New Jersey. Rob put the motor back together and cleaned up the wiring and added a new exhaust. At cruises, he couldn't believe the response he was getting from people who saw the car. At a Mopar event at ATCO Raceway, the announcer said, "Here is Rob Psychedelic Paint Job Porporino with his awesome '69 Plymouth Barracuda!" The attention was abundant, and even more heads turned when he made a pass of 11.70 at 119 mph with a bad third gear and low compression. There was a lot more left in this A-Body.
Since then, Rob has made it his mission to preserve the nostalgic feel and look that makes the car so unique. The white paint was resprayed accompanied by a new hood and clear coat. The clear made the original air-brushing look even better! He had the transmission rebuilt to shift like butter and installed an all-new interior. Rob has plans for a 572 Hemi with a cross-ram intake because, in his words, "it's the only thing missing in this car to make it complete!" It isn't very often you see a nostalgic racer of this caliber in such great shape still taking hits down the track. Rob wouldn't have it any other way.
'69 Plymouth Barracuda
Robert Porporino of Upper Saddle River, New Jersey
- Engine A 440 block with a 4.375-inch bore and factory stroke. It features TRW flat-top pistons, Six-Pack I-beam rods, and a stock steel crankshaft. The cam is a Mopar Performance .528/.528-inch lift 268/284-degrees duration flat tappet. A set of 452 heads were ported and polished by Indy Cylinder Head and later freshened up by Bill Cirelli from Cirelli Racing Engines in Paterson, New Jersey. Crane 1.5 roller rockers were installed to help the valves keep up with the larger cam. The tunnel ram is off the car at the moment, and in its place is a Mopar M1 intake and a single Holley 750. The ignition was converted to an MSD Digital 6AL and uses an MSD Billet distributor. A Melling High Volume oil pump replaces the lethargic factory pump, and 2-inch Hooker headers with 3.5-inch collectors are muffled by a pair of 3-inch Flowmaster 40-series mufflers.
- Transmission The Hemi 18-spline transmission is not original to the car, but Rob will take it! It was rebuilt by Mike Bonsanti in Morristown, New Jersey. It's commanded by a Hurst Super Shifter and a McCleod Dual-Disc clutch.
- Rearend A 9-inch with Moser Axles and 3.73 gears.
- Suspension The front uses QA1 12-way adjustable shocks and out back are Rancho nine-way adjustable shocks with SS springs with offset shackles.
- Brakes Factory four-corner drums.
- Wheels and Tires Front 15x4 Torque Thrusts and rear black 15x10 steel wheels from Specialty Wheels.
- Paint/Body It is unknown who was the first painter to lay down the psychedelic paint you see on the car, but it was freshened up by "Mr. Machine" from Newark, New Jersey. The original hood has a massive rectangle cut out of it to clear the old tunnel ram. It now has a fiberglass Six-Pack hood.
- Interior An interior kit and door panels were ordered from Legendary Auto interiors and installed by Kirt Interiors in upstate New York.