About Me

My photo
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
My passion is also my business, as I am with the Toronto based Hav-A-Kar Auto Group. I sell or lease any make of car, van or truck available in Canada. My interest in all things "car" has helped me with my many clients in Ontario over the past 20+ years. Please give me the opportunity to assist you.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

March 18: Another birthday

What I think is strange (well, there are a lot of things) is when a birthday is announced for someone or thing, that is no longer around. If the person or thing is long gone, then it is simply a commemorative date, nothing more, nothing less. That said, I read last week that the Plymouth Barracuda is having its 50th birthday shortly. A commemorative date for sure, since the old Barracuda was discontinued in 1974. But this fish is well worth remembering, since it was the first of what were to be known as "pony cars". The first? Say what? You think it was the Mustang, but no, the Barracuda beat it to market by a couple of weeks. You know what they say about something that is first to market. Well, it didn't quite work out for the Barracuda, since the Ford Mustang blew it into the weeds and from there, way back into the trees.

Problem with the Barracuda (or 'cuda for short) was that it was a hastily redone Valiant compact and everybody knew it. So when the Mustang was introduced, as an all new car and with a stunning design, well, so long Barracuda. Even the new one in 1967 was derivative of the Valiant. Not until 1970 did the 'cuda come into its own, just as the sun was setting on this market segment. Timing is everything.

But let's look at some famous Barracudas..........

NASCAR banned the Hemi in 1965, so Richard Petty took his #43 to the dragstrips (see the "Outlawed" name on the side). Called 43 Jr, this venture ended tragically, when his car left the strip and ran into the crowd, killing a young boy and injuring several others (actually, just after the pic above was taken). This car was never raced again.

Future star and multi race team owner, Don Schumacher, started out with a Barracuda, the famous Stardust (named for the sponsoring Vegas casino)........

But probably the most famous Cuda of all was the dragstrip scene stealer, the Hemi Under Glass.......

Powered by a huge Hemi motor in the back, it only took a little throttle to lift this car's front end skyward. A window under the dash let driver Bob Riggle see where his wheelstander was headed. I believe this car is still around today and I also have a model of it in my office.

For a short lived car, the Barracuda certainly made an impression, but not until 1970-71 did it cement it's name in the history books. Go to any collector car auction today, with an authentic '70 or '71 Hemi 'cuda and plan your retirement with the sale's proceeds.

So it surprised many, including me, when Chrysler came out with the Challenger a few years back. Sure, it was known back in the day, but nothing like the Barracuda, the iconic muscled up pony car. But not all is lost, as there are plenty of rumours that a new 'cuda will come to market within the next couple of years........

Not as retro looking as the Challenger, but beautiful in its own right. Will it happen? I guess we'll have to wait until the 2015 Detroit Auto Show for the answer. In the meantime, raise a glass in a Happy Birthday, or should I say "commemorative" toast, to the very first pony car  -  the Barracuda!

Until next time.......

No comments:

Post a Comment