No, your eyes are not deceiving you. That is a '72 Plymouth 'Cuda wearing FM3 Moulin Rouge High Impact paint on its restored E-Body sheetmetal. You can thank one of the under-25 members of the Mopar hobby for the color choice.
Stephanie Williams' family has always had car people, so says her father Steve. "As a young person, my brother Mike and I, and most of the guys in the family, were really into cars," he recalls from his Baton Rouge, Louisiana, home. "We had a mentor in our family, our grandfather, who was a Mopar salesman. The first car that we learned how to drive and work on was a '66 Charger with a 318."
Fast forward a few decades and another stylish Mopar is in the Williams' driveway. But, we're getting a little bit ahead of the story.
This project began at a family gathering a few years back. "My uncle had the 'Cuda up in California. He came to Louisiana for a family function and started talking about it with my dad and my big brother, Collin, who drives an '06 Charger SRT8," says Stephanie. "I was interested in it, and he said that he would build it for me. That's how that project got started." Fortunately, the 'Cuda in question was in "project ready" shape, and the only areas on its unibody that needed new steel were the front fenders, lower rear quarters, and the C-pillars near the rear window.
Steve says that one goal of the project was to bring this Barracuda back to the performance level the '72s had when new while keeping costs down. That started with the 340 under the hood. "We wanted to make it look pretty, and not so much high performance for a 16-year-old," says Steve of the 'Cuda and its LA-series engine. "It's a [decent] engine with primarily the original 340 parts in it. We added headers, a crossover pipe, and cutouts to complete the exhaust system, and we also added the rear valence with the exhaust tip cutouts because we all liked how that exhaust came through the rear valence," says Steve. "Of course, the paint Stephanie liked a lot, from the previous Mopar pinks that she'd seen."
The code FM3 color that Stephanie chose is one of the eye-grabbingest of the High Impact paints-but one of the rarest when it comes to production cars. That's because Moulin Rouge (and Panther Pink, per the Dodge color chart) was added to the option list in the middle of the 1970 model run and was not used as a factory color after 1970.
Big BFGoodrich Radial TAs...
Big BFGoodrich Radial TAs and chrome-plated Rallye wheels weren't on the '72 'Cuda option list...but who's complaining?
Another appearance item that wasn't on any '72 Plymouth options list: the AAR-inspired strobe stripes on each side of Stephanie's 'Cuda. Not only are they not OEM, but they're not made of the vinyl tape that so many '70s cars were trimmed with. "We spent a lot of time making the contrasting strobe stripes, which are painted on," says Steve. "That stripe itself has some luminescent material mixed in it, so after the car's been in bright sunshine all day, if you put it in the dark, those strobe stripes glow. That's a cool thing to see!"
Inside, the cabin's colors and modern-tech electronics are Stephanie's ideas. "I chose the radio and the GPS tracking system that's in it," she says. "Also the seat colors were going to be black, but I asked them to do a bright white."
Plans called for Stephanie's...
Plans called for Stephanie's 'Cuda to have black seats, but she decided otherwise. Modern-tech sound system and GPS were also her idea.
After the 'Cuda was done last spring, Stephanie and her family traveled to Mopars at the Strip in Las Vegas, where they got their first look at the finished car. "The stripes were a surprise to me," Stephanie recalls. "When I first saw those glow at night, I didn't know what was going on. The only thing I kept saying was, 'Oh my God!' I was shocked!"
The 'Cuda's restored chassis,...
The 'Cuda's restored chassis, plus big BFGs at each corner, helped Stephanie on Mopars at the Strip's autocross course, where she placed second in her class.
But that wasn't all. Mopars at the Strip was where Stephanie, at age 16, got her first chance to drive the pink 'Cuda-and where she took second place in her class in the weekend's autocross competion. Not only that, but that's where she did her first burnout, which our Kevin DiOssi captured with his camera. "I wasn't expecting the show to be that big," she says of the all-Mopar weekend whose exploits in Vegas don't stay in Vegas. "I thought it was just going to be a few hundred people, but it was a lot bigger than that."
Big as it was, there was something bigger ahead for Stephanie after the show-a nearly 1,700-mile-long trip home to Baton Rouge. "I was kind of scared at first," says Stephanie of the trip, but she was far from alone on the 27-hour straight-through trip. Her uncle accompanied her, and the rest of the family kept track of her cross-country progress. "My brother Michael and Stephanie left early on Monday morning while the rest of the family flew home to Louisiana," says Steven. "They wanted to drive back, so they drove it straight through. We were tracking them on GPS, and we were getting updates, including excessive speed notifications, as they were coming toward Baton Rouge." When they got home, there was another surprise waiting for them-a family get-together. "Most of the family had never seen the car," says Steven, "so upon their arrival we had a big crawfish boil in the backyard."
Stephanie (center) got her...
Stephanie (center) got her first look at her completed 'Cuda at last year's Mopars at the Strip, thanks to help from her father and uncle.
Does Stephanie or Steve have any advice for any Mopar builders to be? Steve remembers the role his grandfather played in his grandson's past, as a mentor that kept him interested in cars (Mopars, especially) and out of trouble. "My advice is to gravitate toward a family member who is into cars and do a lot of research on how to perform a project," he says. "You have to understand what your capabilities are, where to start, how much money to spend on the first project, and go from there. A lot of people have a lot of frustration when they go through this the first time, so you definitely need to read ahead and understand what you want to drive and how much of a budget you have."
'72 Plymouth 'Cuda 340
Stephanie Williams, Baton Rouge, Lousiana
- Engine: Original 340 was treated to a rebuild that included a Hughes hydraulic camshaft and lifters, an Edelbrock AirGap intake with a 650 cfm Holley on top, MSD electronic ignition, Doug's Headers and a Pypes 2 1/2-inch exhaust system with cross-over pipe, cutouts and 40-series Flowmaster mufflers.
- Transmission: 727 Torqueflite was rebuilt with a shift kit and other goodies from Mancini Racing.
- Rearend: 3.23-geared 8-3/4 with an open differential
- Suspension: (Front) Longitudinal heavy-duty torsion bars, unequal length A-Arms and tubular Edelbrock shocks with a front anti-sway bar (Rear) Leaf springs and tubular Edelbrock shocks with a rear anti-sway bar
- Brakes: Restored OEM front disc/rear drum brakes, power-assisted.
- Wheels and Tires: Chromed Rallye wheels (15 x 7 inches in front, 15 x 8 inches in back) wear BFGoodrich Radial TA's, 235/60R15 in front, 275/60R15 in back.
- Body: Original 1972 Plymouth E-Body two-door unibody was restored with lower rear quarter patch panels and new steel in the C-Pillars near the rear window
- Paint: Non-original FM3 Moulin Rouge was applied in PPG basecoat/clearcoat by Uncle Mike Williams and Brian Dowdy at Golden Age Restorations, Orland, California. They also painted on the luminescent AAR-style side stripes.
- Interior: Restored original '72 'Cuda, with new seat covers by Cleveland Upholstery, Orland, California.