Back in the late ’60s and early ’70s, American servicemen had the chance to buy the car of their dreams.
That included Curt Wright, whose tour of duty with the United States Marine Corps ended in 1968. After the Honorable Discharge, he planned to buy a new Mopar. Unfortunately, when he came home, his bankroll wasn’t up to it -- yet.
“When I went to order the car, I didn’t have enough money,” he says of his original plan to buy a ’69 Barracuda. “Finally, I ended up ordering the ’70 in the middle of 1969, and I took delivery of it in November.”
Unlike some who bought 440 or Hemi-powered ’Cudas, he chose a Gran Coupe hardtop, equipped with a 383, Torqueflite automatic, leather seats, Rallye wheels, as well as power steering and brakes.
Taking delivery at his hometown Chrysler-Plymouth dealer in Danville, Illinois, it was his daily driver—for a while. “I could only afford one car,” Curt recalls. “After I got it, I loved it so much that I didn’t want to tear it up.” That meant a different daily driver, and the ’70 going into long-term storage, where it stayed for over two decades.
When I went to order a ’69 Barracuda in 1968, I didn’t have enough money. I ordered this car mid-1969.
Then the time came for Curt and his family to relocate across town. Curt planned on driving the ’70 from the old home to the new. “I started it up to try and drive it to the new house, and the oil pressure light came on, so I shut it down,” says Curt. “It ended up being a bad switch, but I didn’t want to take any chances.”
So, back into storage it went, staying there until he decided to restore it. “I worked on it on and off for a few years, then I put it on a rotisserie, and worked on it for two more years, scraping the bottom and fixing any little nick or anything that I’d seen,” Curt remembers. There was no rust on the unibody, and the rest of the car was in similar original-yet-undisturbed condition. But, as Curt puts it, “I felt that as I was getting a little older, I was going to need a little help, because I’d never get it done at the rate I was going.”
Fortunately, help was available at The Finer Details in Danville, Indiana. “At first, I just wanted them to paint it,” he says. “One thing led to another. Looking at the quality of work these guys did, I thought, ‘We’re this far into it—let’s make sure that it’s done right.’ It was a good move on my part.”
A good move indeed, as the ’70 was completed two years later. Along with the work done in the two Danvilles, Indy Cylinder Head rebuilt the 383, and A&A Transmission in Indianapolis restored the 727, keeping its original Slap Stick console-mounted shifter.
Also going back on and in: the original interior, Rallye wheels, and Gran Coupe-specific trim.
A/C: Bet you thought you’d never see this—a Shaker-equipped Mopar with A/C. Thanks to a B
Curt made one big change to his ’70 by adding a Shaker hood scoop while keeping the factory Airtemp air conditioning. (Air conditioning wasn’t available with Shaker or Air Grabber–equipped cars back then, thanks to those hoods and scoops not clearing the A/C compressor.) “I found this bracket by Bouchillon that turned the [new-style Sanden] compressor over sideways,” Curt says of what made his Shaker swap possible. “Once I found out that I could put the Shaker on there, there was no question at that point.”
The result was an E-Body whose coolness was increased by its new hood and scoop the same way interior comfort improves when the RPO H51 Airtemp climate-controls move to A/C.
If you’re lucky enough to have a vintage Mopar stored away like Curt had, or you find the car of your dreams in a long-locked garage or barn, Curt says you shouldn’t put off building it. “Life’s too short to put off things like that, if this is what your dream is or this is what you’re looking for. Look for a good body, something that’s a sound car to start with. Go for your dream.
“To me, it’s been a dream come true.”
Curt’s Barracuda is also a tribute to those who gave all. “This car represents to me all the men who never survived the Vietnam War, and couldn’t buy their dream car,” he says. “This car represents a different time in our history.”
1970 Plymouth Barracuda Gran Coupe
Curt Wright - Danville, Illinois
|Engine: Indy Cylinder Head restored the ’70’s original 383, replacing the OEM Carter four-barrel with an Edelbrock.
| Transmission: A&A Transmission in Indianapolis restored the 727 Torqueflite
|Rear: Also restored: The OEM 83⁄4 rear end, which now runs a set of 3.55 gears
|Suspension: Restored original ’70 Barracuda (Front) longitudinal torsion bars, sway bar and tubular shocks (Rear) leaf springs and tubular shocks.
|Brakes: Restored original ’70 Barracuda front discs/rear drums.
|Wheels/Tires: The original 15x7-inch Rallye wheels are wrapped in BFGoodrich Radial TAs (P235/60R15 front, P245/60R15 rear).
|Paint/Body: Original all-steel ’70 Barracuda hardtop unibody restored by Curt and The Finer Details in Danville, Indiana, who also sprayed on the two-stage PPG B7 Blue paint. Going on during the resto: An N96 Shaker hood, and an A/C bracket that moves the compressor so it won’t interfere with the scoop.
|Interior: Other than the reproduction carpet, it’s all original, down to its leather front and rear seats and the new-for-’70 Slap Stick ratchet-type shifter in the console.