We have to think the executives at Chrysler were browsing through the pages of Webster's dictionary when they came up with the name for their infamous A-Body in 1964-Barracuda. it states, "They are voracious predators and hunt using a classic example of lie-in-wait or ambush. They rely on surprise and short bursts of speed to overrun their prey, sacrificing maneuverability."
The evolution of the Barracuda from the angular, boxy A-Body into the wide, sleek E-Body 'Cuda, one of the single-most-desired icons of musclecar history, is mind-blowing. Within the last two years, the prices of original Hemi-powered, unusually-optioned '70 and '71 'Cudas have climbed to seven figures, reaching up to five million dollars for a blue-on-blue convertible four-speed. This has incurred a migration of get-rich-quick entrepreneurs into the restoration community, dishing out grotesque sums to return these cars to factory specs, and then pawning them off to private collectors and big-dollar auction houses.
Certainly these cars are being preserved for generations to enjoy in the future, but the more dangerous aftereffect is a drastic acceleration in price of nearly every high-performance Mopar, shutting out the would-be enthusiast. This is what has caused many Mopar devotees to believe that all the good musclecars have been "snatched up." Thankfully, this is not entirely true. Yes, nearly all the original Hemi-powered 'Cudas and Challengers have been accounted for, but with crate engines and the aftermarket in full swing, clones and restomods are now more of a viable option than ever before.
The opportunity for the average enthusiast to own a GTX, for example, is now probable with time dedicated to hunting down a straight Satellite. The abundance of aftermarket interior accruements, exterior badging, and extensive drivetrain options can make any grocery-getter of yesteryear into today's classic Mopar musclecar clone. The negative connotation clone status is all but gone-Hemi clone cars are now fetching six figures at some of the larger auctions.
Dave Pinney and his wife Cindy are not millionaires. The Lakewood, Colorado, residents don't own a summer home in sunny California or a ski lodge in Aspen. So when they decided they wanted a Hemi-powered E-Body 'Cuda, they knew they were going to have to do it some other way than just writing a check.
The Pinneys aren't new to E-Bodies; they have owned two different R/T Challengers (a hard top and a convertible), a '71 'Cuda, and a '71 Challenger R/T, as well as a '68 Formula S Barracuda. It took the couple four years of searching to find this Plymouth. The two spent years looking at local ads and newspapers trying to find the right car, so when Dave called Cindy to tell her he found a car, she was already looking at the same ad. Both escaped from work early to see the 'Cuda for themselves. After looking over the E-Body, they agreed on the price and drove the coupe home.
Later, a chance encounter at a local burger stand would reunite Dave and Cindy with one of the previous owners who had conducted most of the restoration back in 1982.
Dave enlisted Denver's Auto...
Dave enlisted Denver's Auto Weave Upholstery to return the E-Body's seats and other interior accommodations to a factory fresh look. Save for the large tach, everything looks stock.
As Dave began tooling on the car, he discovered it was originally a FC7 Violet car, but after hours of sanding, buffing, and detailing, the DuPont red glistened like it had when it was applied twenty years ago. Dave continued the endeavor, restoring the aesthetics of the 'Cuda's interior by installing a center console and having Denver's Auto Weave Upholstery return the E-Body's seats and other interior accommodations to its former glory. Dave also installed rocker moldings, body spoilers, and the quarter billboard decals, all of which were originally optioned on this dual fender-tagged 'Cuda. As a trick, Dave ordered an AAR Quality Fiberglass hood, but had the Shaker scoop incorporated into the hood, customizing the air induction into the single carb.
Dave shelved the original 340 small-block, wanting to wedge an elephant between the fenders. Fortunately, Dave's vocation as a machinist and fabricator for Winberg Crankshafts in Denver gave him the skill to custom shape a 70-pound, Top-Fuel 4.150-stroked crankshaft from a 350-pound chunk of billet steel. Intending to build his engine around the custom crank, Dave struggled to nail down a lead on a Mopar Performance block. Finally, Dave chose to order a 4.253-bore block from Westoaks Dodge in California, and have it shipped three states over. After several phone calls to Indy Cylinder Head, Dave had his top end. Finally, a top end was mated with a Racer Brown sold camshaft to finish the final assembly. All told, the displacement of the Hemi totaled up to 472 ci.
Dave chose the affordable route and built the 8-3/4 rear with Richmond 3.91 cogs and Strange axles. The original four-speed gearbox didn't need much with its Hurst Pistol Grip shifter to mate up to the big breathing Hemi. Dave went with tti headers through Flowmaster mufflers to tunnel all the exhaust out the rear. This 'Cuda was designed for show as well as go, and its list of go-fast goodies testifies to it.
The Pinneys show the 'Cuda at local shows and at the annual Mopars at the Strip show (which is where we found Dave and Cindy for this photo shoot), but where this E-Body shows its true colors is on the 1320, where Dave has clicked off a 12.20 quarter-mile time at 109 mph at a staggering 5,400 feet above sea level!
Dave and Cindy Pinney, Lakewood, CO
'71 Plymouth 'Cuda
472 ci Hemi, Mopar Performance 4.253-bore block,
Winberg stroker 4.150 crank, Diamond 11.5-to-1 compression pistons
Manley H-beam 6.856-inch rods, Racer Brown solid .554 lift cam,
Indy Legend cylinder heads, ported and polished, Indy roller rocker arms,
Indy single-plane intake, Mighty Demon 850 carb, MSD ignition
A833 four-speed manual gearbox, Hurst Pistol Grip shifter
Chrysler 8-3/4 differential, Richmond 3.91 gears, Sure Grip carrier, Strange axles
Weld Drag Lites, 7-inch rims, BFG 215/60/15,
Weld Drag Lites, 8-inch rims, BFG 275/60/15 drag radials
12.20 at 109 mph
A clone Hemi-powered 'Cuda...
A clone Hemi-powered 'Cuda is nothing to sneer at, especially with 472 cubes thundering out of TTI headers. An Indy Legend top end makes sure all that work equals great numbers at the track, even at 5,400 feet above sea level.
Making sure a 472 Hemi is...
Making sure a 472 Hemi is properly fed is a daunting task. The Mighty Demon 850 is up to the challenge.