Some families pass jewels and other riches onto future generations. Others deed houses and transfer wisdom. For Doug Sloan, it was grandpa's '69 Plymouth Barracuda that would be passed through the generations into his hands. And in doing so, the car gave the Sloan family a project to work on together and remember grandpa by.
We can only imagine the scene at the Plymouth dealership in Riverside, California, in 1969. It was probably littered with A-, B-, and E-Body cars with everything from slant sixes to mighty Hemis. Among the new Detroit iron on the lot was this 340 Formula S, four-speed Barracuda. It was the kind of car that muscle car guys drool over today: manual steering, manual brakes, minimal options-just motor, a manual trans, and diminutive weight. This was the last year that the svelte Barracuda would be built on the A-Body platform, moving up to the E-Body in the next model year. This particular Barracuda was unaware that it was about to be adopted into a Mopar-loving family. That's when Doug's grandpa, Luis, scooped up the car and started using it as a daily driver. Over the next 13 years, it was fed and cared for along with Luis' other two Barracudas.
Fate usually sneaks up on us. A simple problem sidelines us, and busy lives keep us from attending to a problem and moving on. The same is true for this car and, in 1982, a shift linkage mishap left the car parked. With other cars in the stable, the shift linkage problem went undiagnosed, and the slow decline of the muscle car began. The stories always start the same: It ran when I parked it. But left alone, cars always decline in condition.
Luis died in 1991, and his collection of Barracudas was distributed to his three sons. The car was moved, but the gradual decay of the Barracuda continued until 2003. That's the year that Doug inked a deal with his dad. Doug would take the car and get the chance to restore it, as long as he didn't cut it up. And his dad could borrow the keys whenever he wanted.
Simplicity is the key for...
Simplicity is the key for the engine compartment of this Barracuda. The dual-stage black paint covers every inch of sheetmetal, while 394 inches of Chrysler small-block is anything but subtle. Manual steering was retained so the only engine-driven accessory is an alternator.
With a modest budget, Doug dove into the project. His plan was to just freshen up the engine and transmission, and put the car back on the road. How many times have we heard that? One thing always leads to another, and the project snowballs. As if temptation can't manifest in one's head well enough, Doug's brother Bryan started whispering evil ideas in his ear. Build it better. Change this. Upgrade that. Before long, an engine rebuild grew into the construction of a stroked small-block. Then the rest of the drivetrain would need to come up to par to accommodate the 500-plus horsepower engine. The plans to simply convert the car back into a driver were retired, and the two set off on a complete rebuild of the car.
The car was stripped, literally. Strip Clean in Santa Ana, California, dipped the car once every nut and bolt was removed. The car then spent the next two years in paint jail. Doug says that in the end, the paint turned out well. While it was there, Doug and Bryan had plenty of time to clean, paint, repair, and replace everything that would attach to the PPG dual-stage black painted body. In just six months after springing the car from the spray booth, Doug and Bryan assembled the car. Doug says they spent countless hours painstakingly assembling the car so it would never need to come apart to this extent again.
The engine was built by Sloan Racing. The numbers-matching 340 was bored and a 3.79-inch Callies crank pumped up the displacement to 394 ci. That's a nice heritage number for a Hemi, but it's a fantastic number for a little LA-series engine. Dougans did all of the machine work before 11:1 CP pistons on Eagles H-beam rods were slid into the bores and torqued onto the crank.
The interior is a mix of original,...
The interior is a mix of original, restoration, and race-ready components. The factory bucket seats received new skins, the factory dash was cleaned and touched up, Auto Meter gauges keep track of the engine, and a Precision Performance shifter commands the 904 trans.
Even with 13 years of daily...
Even with 13 years of daily driver service, the Barracuda accumulated only 33,000 miles. That's one reason that many of the original pieces of the car could be reused with a little bit of elbow grease to make them look new again. Most of the trips the car makes these days are down the quarter-mile and to car shows.