Greg and Reader Reminisce Over The 1965 Plymouth Barracuda

Greg Zyla
Q: Greg I still have my ’65 Barracuda Formula S that I bought brand new in February of 1965. At present it has 112,000 miles and I am also a member number 800 in the Plymouth Barracuda/Cuda Club.
I bought my Barracuda from Theo Eberhardt Chrysler/Plymouth in Egypt (Whitehall) Pennsylvania. My neighbor at the time was a mechanic at Eberhardt’s and he told me about the new Barracuda they just received I went to the dealership and when I saw it and then HEARD it running, I knew I had to have it. Little did I know that 54 years later, I would still own my Barracuda Formula S.
Our three daughters grew up with this car and we all have wonderful memories of our nights at the drive-in movies. At the drive-in, I would back into the space so we could use the huge back window to see the screen better. We had pillows and blankets and I remember my daughters and classmates would fight to see who got to sit behind the back seat and everyone thought the car was the coolest thing since recess was invented at the schools.
My wife remembers kids at the grocery store wanting to bring the groceries to the Barracuda just to get a closer look at it and listen to it as she drove away. It had amazing power and it still has the Hurst 4-speed shifter. It has the 3:23 rear with sure grip (posi) and the only thing I changed was putting in a stronger Borg & Beck pressure plate and clutch assembly. I still have the Owners Certicard dated Feb. 1, 1965 and even though I don’t have the window sticker, I know the retail price was $3,180. I also remember Richard Petty taking a stock Formula S and running over 127-MPH even though the car was rated at just 235-horsepower.
I had the Barracuda off the road since 1976 but brought it back out in 2006. I have enclosed a photo I took in 2017 and I did invest about $3,000 in body work back then with an original color repaint and $1,500 in mechanical like new shocks, leaf springs, water pump, front suspension, etc. before bringing it back out.
After living in Pennsylvania all our lives, we moved to Wilmington, Delaware in Dec. of 2017 Thank you and I enjoy your weekly auto columns very much. Bob Williamson, Wilmington, DE.
A: Bob, thanks you so much for your letter and kind words. I still feel those early 1964 to 1966 fastback Barracudas did not receive the respect they deserved as everything you saw or read back then had to do with the 1964 ½ Mustangs.
And, not many people know the Plymouth Barracuda beat Mustang to market by a bit over two weeks in 1964, making it the very first pony car to appear on the scene. Another thing Barracuda did better than Mustang was turn into an ultimate, smaller wheelbase muscle car with no peers, with all due respect to the Mustang Boss and Cobra Jets that roamed the boulevards.
To explain, when Chrysler decided to drop the 383 big-block V8 into the second generation 1967 Barracuda, it kicked off a frenzy of MOPAR performance that ended up with the ultra rare 426 Hemi 1968 Barracudas, produced in very limited numbers that only 50 were built and given to serious drag racers. Today, the Hemi Barracudas are worth hundreds of thousands of dollars and regardless of whether you had a performance Mustang, Camaro, Firebird or AMC Javelin/AMX, those 1968 Hemi Barracudas were king of the drag strip.
Over on the Dodge side, you could buy yourself a nice ’65 Dart GT with the 273 Charger V8 high performance engine. The 273 performance engine featured an AFB four barrel carb, 10.35 compression pistons and a high-lift solid lifter cam. The 273 two-barrel version was listed at just 180-horses with an 8.8-compression ratio and very mild solid lifter cam. Eventually, the 273 was replaced by the hotter and larger 275-horse 340-inch V8, making it more formidable against the 289/302 Mustang, 302/327/350 Camaro and Pontiac 326.
Thanks much for your letter and kind comments. You have a fine car in that ’65 Formula S and thanks for the photo, too.
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