Peter Swainson is the definitive Mopar guy.
He’s owned some legendary Mopar muscle over the years and his Southside Dodge dealership, Red Deer (AB) has sold thousands of cars since the day his family took over the business in 1971.
Southside sold one car that haunted Peter for decades.
Peter’s oldest sister Teri got to drive a brand new 340 Barracuda to high school back in 1971 and this pony car was the stuff of dreams for a very young Peter Swainson. He explained: “The car came with the inventory back in 1971 and Teri got to drive it from mid-June through August and I thought it was the coolest car”. Peter’s mom didn’t drive so Teri was drafted to drive her around in this 340 Barracuda.
Peter was too young to drive at 13 but he did get to move the Barracuda “about 50 yards in the parking lot to the wash bay” as part of his car cleaning duties at Southside so he really bonded with the car.
He never forgot the car and the only certainty was it “ended up in Calgary (AB)”. Peter spent years in the hunt for the elusive Barracuda with no success despite his connections in the hobby. He finally gave up and basically wrote the idea (and the car) off as a victim of time and the dreaded crusher.
Peter likes to scan for vintage cars online and he spotted an ad for a very familiar car in Kelowna, BC. The owner did buy the car in Calgary and this Barracuda definitely matched the description of the long lost Southside car. Peter explained what he saw: “I looked at the picture and it didn’t have the billboard on the side but I started reading the options and I figured—that’s it—that’s the car”.
The owner remembered “seeing the car around Calgary” so he seized the opportunity to own a great example of a 1971 340 Barracuda, but he bought and sold cars, so there had to be a solid game plan.
Peter said the car needed “a complete resto, it wasn’t running but the sheet metal was pretty good”. He was curious about his sister Teri’s reaction when she saw the car. He said she “was speechless” but she thought the car “looked pretty tired”.
Teri gets to relive her high school past because Peter definitely wants to “get her out in it” so the only question is whether she’ll wheel the Barracuda through her old high school parking lot. She could relive a moment when she drove a cooler car than every guy in the school.
Peter wasn’t worried because he knew this 1971 Barracuda could be brought back to the showroom look it had when he was 13 years old and this car meant everything to him. The results of the restoration are spectacular and the sheer numbers of people around this reborn Mopar classic spoke volumes about the quality of the build.
You could call this a Swainson legacy car or you could call it a Southside legacy car but either way it’s a testimony to the 46th anniversary of a business and the 46th anniversary of a kid’s dream car.