“The door dings, lower quarter rust, and trunk holes need attention,” admits owner Mark Ray about his Barracuda convertible’s condition. “This is a humble driver with a 20-footer Earl Schieb paintjob over the factory Lime Light paint. And the patina green that shows through the front bumper is priceless.”
From a family of ‘fanatic’ Chrysler owners, Mark grew up in San Francisco, and the Barracuda you see here is still kept there in a rented garage. An advertising art director by trade, the car was the seventh such machine (E-Body ’vert) he has owned since buying a ’70 Challenger convertible back in 1979 as his first car. According to the fender tag, this Barracuda was built in 1970 as an FJ5 Limelight green 318 car, with a white top, white interior, FJ5-colored A21 elastomeric front bumper, factory AC, and console-housed Slap Stik-shifted automatic—a pretty gorgeous combo for the day. When it turned up on eBay in 2006, it was ‘back on black’ as you see here; Mark contacted the owner, closed the deal, and then the fun began.
Yeah, it’s dirty, but it’s also a big-block that features air conditioning in a convertibl
The car looked (and looks) cosmetically challenged; after flying to Louisville, Kentucky, to claim his prize, Mark had planned on having the owner store it, and then locate a shop to do the driveline changes he wanted. Three months later, nothing had happened, so Mark bought another plane ticket in May, one way this time, and decided to throw caution to the wind.
“Yeah, that was a 2,000-mile odyssey road trip,” he recalls with a grin. “In fact, my AAA Auto Club card was actually revoked when it was over because I had been towed over 10 times—mostly related to the non-working gas gauge and various electrical maladies. I couldn’t even leave Louisville, until I repaired the loud/no muffler exhaust; the guy working at the shop liked the car, and agreed to fix it for a 12-pack of Budweiser!”
It might look better the farther away you get, but a ’Cuda driver in any condition is cool
The trip would not be a simple one, as Mark’s frustrated AAA rep found out. Still, one highlight was seeing the old house in Illinois, where Walter P. Chrysler had grown up, and taking a leisurely jaunt across the plains, finally deciding to store the car in Denver for a month in a public storage facility. Mark flew home and then finished up the trip in June, cruising Colorado’s Front Range with the top down. Despite all the drama, he had his only run-in with Johnny Law while coming over the High Sierras outside of Lake Tahoe.
“The car had no tags the entire trip,” he laughs, “and this cop pulls me over and proceeds to spend a half-hour talking to me…about ’70 ’Cuda convertibles! Then he gives me his personal business card for N.O.S. parts and tells me that my ’vert is one of only three in the whole state of Nevada, and he owns the other two! It’s a real ‘urban myth’ sort of story.”
The surreal adventure ended as he rolled over the Golden Gate Bridge at sunset to put a Barracuda convertible in his hometown of San Francisco. Mark then began to lay the plans for the car’s changes, which he had already decided would not include bodywork or paint for now. This one would be a driver in every sense of that word.