What Is An M-Code?During the musclecar era, all Plymouth performance vehicles included a single-letter designation in their VINs indicating what type of engine was planted inside. In 1968, Hurst Performance created 70 Barracuda Super Stock cars that were powered by the 426 Hemi engine. These cars were for drag racing purposes only and were given a letter M designation in their VINs. The next year, Plymouth resurrected the M-code when it produced a handful of 440-powered 'Cuda hardtops and fastbacks late in the model year. It is not known exactly how many '69 M-code 'Cudas were built, but only a few survive today.
In just 10 months, Cort Schumacher of Surrey, British Columbia, and his son, Ehren, transformed this rare M-code '69 'Cuda fastback from a pile of parts into a pristine fish. Only a handful of '69 440 'Cudas were ever produced, and even fewer survive to this day. But the Shumachers have assured this one will stand the test of time.
"I found the car in an ad in a local buy/sell paper," Cort says. "I decided to go look at the car because I had phoned the seller, and the asking price he told me seemed reasonable, [considering] he had most of the parts. When I saw the car's condition, I hesitated to buy it. But, I had driven a '69 440 in 1969 and always wanted one. The clinching factor was it was originally a yellow car. I gave him $500 down and headed to the bank."
Once Cort's brother brought the car home to him, the process began of stripping the car down and discovering its true condition. It was rough, but there was little rust. Stripping the paint was a delicate procedure because the original stripes had been painted over. "We used a plastic wire brush to strip one layer at a time until we were able to get a look at the stripes," Ehren says. Finding replacements for those stripes proved to be a roadblock, but only temporarily. "We couldn't find them anywhere," Ehren says. "But a friend of mine worked at a local sign shop. I gave him the measurements, and we scanned some magazine pictures, blew them up, and produced the stripes ourselves."
But not all the part hunting was that involved, as the previous owner had taken care of many of the hard-to-find parts already.
"The previous owner knew what he had, and he had collected a lot of parts for it," Ehren says. "But he was more interested in classic cars from the '30s to the '50s."
Not only had he collected some parts, but he had also done some work to the 'Cuda. When the Schumachers got it, the seats were redone, and most of the holes were filled in. "The previous owner told us it looked like someone had taken an axe to it," Ehren adds. "A hole had been cut in the floor for a manual, and it had a snorkel hoodscoop. Anything you could think of to butcher a car was done to it. It was rough, but by the time we bought it, there was almost enough there for a complete car."