The Next Generation
One of the cleanest cars we came across at the Nationals this year was this red '68 Formula S Barracuda that was part of the Young Guns display. The fact that this Plymouth was a first-time project for a 17-year-old enthusiast made it that much more impressive. Gregg Orr tells us his story here.
How I Built My Hot Rod As Told By Gregg Orr
My name is Gregg Orr, and I'm a junior at Oregon-Davis High School in Hamlet, Indiana. I also attend The Skill Center in Knox, Indiana, where I study automotive repair. I grew up in a Mopar family and, after realizing school sports weren't for me, I decided I needed a Mopar of my own. I grew up hearing stories of the cars my mom and my dad owned and attended a lot of car shows with them. My dad was in the process of restoring his '70 'Cuda, and the owner of the body shop where it was to be painted showed us a shed with some of his "stuff." In the back corner was this '68 Barracuda Formula S. I asked him if the car was for sale, and even though I was informed it wasn't, I made sure he knew that I was interested. A month later it was time for the 2000 Mopar Nats and I looked at every Barracuda there, getting ideas for the one I didn't even have yet. I almost bought another car there that day but Mom and Dad said to wait since I was only 15 and had plenty of time (I didn't think so).
Gregg Orr Hamlet, Indiana
After the seven-hour ride home from the Nats, I immediately went into the house and called the body shop to see if the car was for sale, it still wasn't. After several more times calling the guy, he finally gave in, and after installing a battery, adding some fresh gas, and putting air in the tires, we drove it home. I drove it about one month with Mom and Dad with me since all I had was a driving permit. Then I decided I wanted to restore the car. Every night after school I worked on it, removing everything I could. My friend, Curt Jensen, spent as much time in the shop as I did. Thanks, Curt!
First, I removed the front end of the car. The grille assembly was damaged but the owner of the body shop had another part of one, and with my grandpa's help, we made one good one from the two. Next, we removed all the wiring and linkages, pulled the engine and the transmission (as well as the plumbing and fuel tank), and took everything inside the car out. The front and rear bumpers were sent out to be rechromed, and since we couldn't repair the aluminum trim, it was sent out for repairs as well. The empty shell then went to Mark's Body Shop in Knox, Indiana, where Mark did an excellent job of straightening and repairing the rear quarters and the hail damage on the car.
Since the body was at the shop, I focused on the engine. It had 85,000 miles on it and I disassembled it, and my cousin, who owns a machine shop, cleaned the block. Since the bores were fine, it was simply honed. The rotating assembly uses the stock rods and pistons on the original crankshaft. The stock heads were freshened up with hardened seats and a three-angle valve job, with a Holley carb mounted on the stock intake. The original exhaust manifolds were used, connected via a tti-built H-pipe and a set of DynoMax mufflers.
When the body came back from the shop, we dropped the rearend, replaced the seals and bushings, and gave it a fresh coat of paint. I bought a front-end rebuild kit from PST and already knew how to do this myself by helping my dad (now he helped me). With the engine mounted to the K-member, we lowered the car on the hoist over the assembly and within moments, the engine was in the car. After all of this, I replaced all of the seals and grommets and bought a Mopar battery. I replaced all the chrome and bolted on the new grille assembly and drove it for the first time while sitting on a bucket (though I don't recommend doing that). I replaced the carpet and tried to do the headliner myself, but after I tore it I got professional help. The seats are original and just needed a good cleaning. The last thing I did was purchase a new set of redline tires from Coker to mount on the original wheels. I've put 5,000 miles on it since completing it in May 2001 and enjoy driving this car as much as possible.