Watergate. OPEC. Disco. No wonder 1974 seemed like a tough time. For Plymouth (and car makers in general), the performance era was completely gone; buyers wanted economy so they didnt have to spend so much time in the gas lines. Chryslers overall sales were down a huge 34 percent. The Cuda was a far cry from its 70 predecessor; the legacy of the big-block beasts and race-breed AAR 340 was being continued by a single beacon, the 360 four-barrel, rated at just 245 net horsepower. Then, in the middle of the 74 production run in March, the factory pulled the plug on the Barracuda altogether, and only 4,989 Cudas, most of them 318 models, came off the dealer lots that year.
Divided into 761 automatics and 398 four-speeds with 360 motivation, the Pistol-Gripstirred example shown here is owned by airline pilot Mark Selby of Riverview, Florida. Mark bought this car in 1993 from a Dodge dealership service manager in Cincinnati, Ohio, who in turn had taken it in from the original owners, an elderly couple, as a trade-in on a pickup truck in the late 70s. The service manager had repainted it the original black, but Mark decided he would give the car a little more boost, going the mild modified route on a machine that is decidedly scarce these days.
The engine headed over to Dwans Machine in St. Petersburg, where the block was punched out .030 and filled with KB hypereutectic pistons spinning on the stock crankshaft and rods. A Crane hydraulic cam actuates the 1.92/1.62 valves in the new-style Mopar Performance Magnum heads. These heads were bowl-blended by Mark and use Crane 1.6 ratio rockers to move the valves when the cam says to. Since using these heads meant the factory cast iron intake would no longer work on the 360, Mark bolted up a fresh MP M-1 intake topped off by an Edelbrock EPS750. Evacuating the spent gases is a pair of coated headers going into the aluminized 2½-inch exhaust.
Power is sent to the 8¾ 3.91:1-geared Sure Grip rear through the factory-installed 833 four-speed. As mentioned, this crash-box is operated by the Hurst Pistol Grip shifter poking up between the unrestored bucket seats. In fact, the entire interior is still in the factory-supplied trim, right down to the stock AM radio and instrument cluster. Since Marks job keeps him winging it between Tampa and points north, the car doesnt get out as much as Mark would like, but this final-year flyer is ground transportation that both he and we can really appreciate.