As Mopar fans know, the '71 Barracuda has been written about, dreamed over, bid up, talked down, and discussed ad nauseam. They are cool cars but even with their uniqueness, they can become . . . well, somewhat predictable. While pure restorations are where most of the "real" cars are headed these days, building tribute versions of any vehicle to better-than-new shape requires hard work and homework. And let's be honest, you had better be good with the gas axe, the torch, and the slide rule if you want the end result to really perform because after you get done with the plasma cutter, the MiG welder, and fitment issues, it does not take much to ruin a collectible and hard-to-replace project car. Start swapping in late-model powertrains and 21st century suspension mods, and the wannabes show themselves up pretty fast.

For Matt Delaney, though, efforts like the car seen here have become a labor of love for the last several years. Viper-ized Chargers, high-tech Road Runners, and more have come under his skilled hands, and we have featured some of them on these pages. This one, however, was a project that Delaney Auto Design did as a keeper and cruiser, using as much off-the-shelf stuff as they could. The idea was to create something that was not just fabricated from scratch, but possible for anyone to do purchasing some of the best products available in the 21st century aftermarket.

Since Hemi cars are almost priceless now, even as junkers, Matt and Marcus Wren began with an original 'Cuda 340 that had seen better days. The rear lower quarters, trunk pan, and floor panels all needed replaced, so after the car was disassembled and stripped to bare metal, it was epoxy primed and treated to numerous patch panels plus the larger sheetmetal replacement. At the same time, the framerails were pulled off, beefed up with a 1/8-inch plate steel and reinstalled, and frame-rail connectors from U.S. Auto Tool were welded in to tie it all together. The resultant frame, now rigid, makes a tremendous difference over the original unitbody. After all, handling would be part of the package. A tubular AlterKtion front suspension outfit with a rack-and-pinion steering system, which replaces the big, heavy K-frame, came from Reilly Motor Sports. The steering column, steering wheel, and cruise control are courtesy of Cleveland, Ohio-based Flaming River Industries. Air Ride Technologies supplied the front and rear shocks as well as a prototype bolt-on, triangulated four-link system for the stock 8-3/4 rearend. The end result goes around corners but can grab traction off the line.

Three months of bodywork, trial fitting of components, blocking, and sanding got the car ready for the paint booth. The crowning touch would be a Shaker hood from Harm's Auto with the scoop and other components coming from North West Performance. Mike Harris of Delaney Auto Design did it, using PPG Ferrari Red as the primary color, PPG Black for the painted side billboards, and several coats of clear. The weatherstripping came from Soff Seal.

Rather than installing a late-model mill as Delaney is noted for doing, he chose to go with a stock era swap, using an MP crate Hemi displacing 472 inches with the only major internal change a cam swap. In the engine bay, a Billet Specialties serpentine pulley system (which is also easy to bolt on) runs all the accessories, including the A/C compressor (part of the Classic Auto Air-supplied system), power steering pump, and alternator, plus it also adds a little bright work to go with the Hemi's OEM appearance. An aluminum radiator and fans from Flex-a-lite keep it all cool.

"The tti exhaust system was a real easy install," says Marcus. "It is a 3-inch exhaust system that comes in prebent kit form, from the ceramic coated headers to the exhaust tips that bolt on with no welding or bending."

On top of the lung is more late-model technology, but Marcus states it was a straight-forward, out-of-the-box install as well. The just-released Mass Flo EFI system was chosen to eliminate carburetor issues, create more power, and improve throttle response.

For highway running, the Keisler TKO 600 five-speed transmission has the perfect gearing for both hole shots and high-speed cruising with good gas mileage (2,400 rpm at 80 mph). Keisler's kits are available for virtually any Mopar body/engine combination imaginable and have been a part of some of Delaney's other creations. A Direct Connection aluminum third member is stuffed with modestly-tight 3.91 gears and a DC-supplied Sure Grip.

For a car that is capable of speeds upwards of 150 mph, whoa is as important as go. This is not a problem with six-piston Wilwood disc brakes on all four corners. Combined with a Hydratech Hydroboost system, this was tied together with prebent lines from Fine Lines. The Fikse Pro-fil 13 wheels help to create a luxury sports car look, and with the rubber compound of the Nitto Extreme 555 radials (front 225/50/18 and rear 295/45/18), hitting that brake pedal will almost put you through the windshield if you are not buckled in. Custom Corbeau front seats hold you in on the corners. The rest of the gorgeous interior was done by friends Tim and Matilda Clark.