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.
Details abound. Every nut, bolt, bracket, fitting, and anything small enough to fit into a glass bead cabinet were cleaned and painted. New LED taillight inserts from Hi Tech LED Products went into the rear panel. A custom billet and stainless fuel tank by Rick's Hot Rod Shop with a quiet internal electric fuel pump feeds the engine all the motivation the right foot dishes out. A Kicker stereo system rounds it out. Special thanks goes out to YearOne, who supplied a lot of the restoration parts to make it all happen and to give the car it's almost-stock appearance.
"The 'Cuda was shown at SEMA, the Mopar Nationals, and Chryslers at Carlisle last year," says Marcus. "The real test was its maiden voyage from Orlando to Englishtown, New Jersey, for the Hot Rod Power Tour. Only a few bugs had to be worked out along the way; the windshield molding could not take the 150-plus mph on one of the safe road track areas and became loose!"
Not bad for stuff that came out of the box.
Looking mostly stock, the...
Looking mostly stock, the interior does have a few subtle upgrades, such as the Classic Auto Air A/C unit, and the Flaming River steering wheel and tilt column.
Fast Facts: '71 Hemi 'Cuda RestoMod
Matt Delaney • Shreveport, LA
Mopar PowerEngine: Rather than a standard displacement 426 Hemi, Mopar's big 472-inch lung was selected. Pretty much as built, the only change was to a new Comp Cams hydraulic roller outfit using new lifters made for this engine. Critical peripherals include a Mass Flo EFI system kit, which comes with everything needed to go 'fuelie' on the Hemi, fed via a high-volume pump in the gas tank. The 3-inch exhaust came from tti, while small parts are from YearOne and Billet Specialties. Like everything Delaney does, it is fully detailed.Transmission: A Keisler TKO 600 five-speed transmission.Differential: An 8-3/4 with an aluminum center section, 3.91 gears, and Sure Grip, all Ma Mopar.Horsepower and Performance: Nobody knows for certain, but it can take the factory speedo to the magic 150-mph mark with ease.
Sure GripSuspension: Changes were pretty extensive, though only fabricating the 1/8-inch plate for the frame was done from scratch. Air Ride Technologies supplied the shocks and the rear traction outfit, while Flaming River and AlterKtion pieces upgraded the steering and K-frame, respectively.Brakes: race-type, six-caliper Wilwoods on all four corners using prebent Fine Lines tubing and Hydratech Hydroboost fluid management.Wheels: 18-inch Fikse Pro-fil 13 wheels (we're not sure why that number 13 is in there).Rubber: Nitto Extreme 555 radials; front 225/50/18 and rear 295/45/18.
High ImpactBody: A '71 340 'Cuda treated to stripping, checking, fitting, fabbing, and elbow grease. Thanks to YearOne, it's living life like the Six Million Dollar Man. The Shaker was the key to looking the part.Paint: No decals on this bad boy. Mike Harris gets credit for making the PPG Ferrari hue look like a sea of blood and adding the billboards as paint.Interior: Retrofited with pride with upgrades such as Custom Auto Air, Kicker sound, a Flaming River steering wheel, and Custom Corbeau front seats. Tim and Matilda Clark get credit for the sano appearance.Best Performance: Let's just say, "I can't drive 55! Where's the Autobahn?"