The Plymouth Barracuda is a two-door pony car manufactured by Plymouth from 1964 to 1974.

The first-generation Barracuda, a hardtop fastback, was based on the A-body platform (shared with the Valiant). The first generation car featured distinctive wraparound back glass and was marketed from 1964 to 1966.

The second-generation Barracuda, built from 1967 to 1969, though still Valiant-based, was heavily redesigned. Body designs were now available in fastback, hardtop coupé, and convertible versions.

The third generation, offered from 1970 to 1974, was no longer based on the A-body, but on the Chrysler E-body. The completely new design was similar to the Dodge Challenger and available in hardtop and convertible body styles. The Barracuda was discontinued after the 1974 model year.


1965 Plymouth Barracuda
During development of the Barracuda, one of the worst kept secrets was Ford's plan to introduce a new sporty compact car based on the inexpensive Falcon chassis and running gear (which was eventually released as the 1964 1/2 Mustang); the extent of the other changes was not known.[3] Chrysler stylist Irv Ritchie sketched a fastback version of the compact Valiant, as this body style "has always been considered sporty."[3] Budgets were limited, but the company's executives wanted to have an entry in this quickly growing sporty-compact car market segment and to capture some of the sales from Chevrolet's Corvair Monza models.[3] Plymouth's executives had wanted to name the new model Panda, an idea unpopular with its designers. In the end, John Samsen's suggestion of Barracuda prevailed.

Based on Chrysler's A-body,[5] the Barracuda debuted in fastback form on April 1, 1964. The new model used the Valiant's 106 in (2,692 mm) wheelbase and the Valiant hood, headlamp bezels, windshield, vent windows, quarter panels, doors, A-pillar, and bumpers; the trunk and some of the glass was new. Utilizing the same hybrid design approach as Ford did turning its Falcon into the Mustang significantly reduced Plymouth's development and tooling cost and time for the new model. The greatest effort was put into creating its distinguishing 14.4 sq ft (1.34 m2) rear window,[1] a collaboration between Pittsburgh Plate Glass (PPG) and Chrysler designers that created the largest ever installed on a standard production car to that time.[6]

Powertrains were identical to the Valiant's, including two versions of Chrysler's slant-6 six-cylinder engine. The standard-equipment engine had a displacement of 170 cu in (2.8 L) and an output of 101 bhp (75 kW); the 225 cu in (3.7 L) option raised the power output to 145 bhp (108 kW).[citation needed]

The highest-power option for 1964 was Chrysler's all-new 273 cu in (4.5 L) LA V8. A compact and relatively light engine equipped with a two-barrel carburetor, it produced 180 bhp (130 kW).

The Barracuda sold for a base price of US$2,512 ($21,000 today).

The 1964 model year was the first for the Barracuda and also the last year for push-button control of the optional Torqueflite automatic transmission.[citation needed] It also marked the first use of the smaller "TorqueFlite 6" (A904) transmission behind a V8.

In the marketplace, the Barracuda was "obviously" a fastback version of the Valiant that had a frugal family transportation image. The sales brochure for the first Barracudas pitched it as a car "for people of all ages and interests."[3] The more "sporty" Mustang was marketed with abundant advertising to young professionals and with its youthful image proved widely successful following its mid-1964 introduction.[3] This became known as the "pony car" niche of modestly appointed compact-sized sedans and convertibles, which came with standard 6-cylinder engines and basic interiors, but could be outfitted with powerful V8s and "custom" appointments and luxury features. The success of the Mustang has long obscured the fact that the Barracuda actually predated the Ford's introduction by two weeks.[8] The abbreviated sales season for the 1964 Barracuda totaled 23,443 units compared to the 126,538 Mustangs sold during the same time.

1965

1965 Barracuda Formula S
In 1965, the 225 slant-6 became the base engine for the U.S. market, though the 170 remained the base engine in Canada.[citation needed]

New options were introduced for the Barracuda as the competition among pony cars intensified. The 273 engine was made available as an upgraded Commando version with a four-barrel carburetor, 10.5:1 compression, and a more aggressive camshaft, still with solid tappets. These and other upgrades increased the engine's output to 235 bhp (175 kW).

Also in 1965, the Formula 'S' package was introduced. It included the Commando V8 engine, suspension upgrades, larger wheels and tires, special emblems, and a tachometer. Disc brakes and factory-installed air conditioning became available after the start of the 1965 model year.

1966

1966 Plymouth Barracuda
For 1966, the Barracuda received new taillamps, new front sheet metal, and a new instrument panel.[citation needed] The latter had room for oil pressure and tachometer gauges on models so equipped. The 1966 front sheet metal which, except for the grille, was shared with the Valiant, and gave a more rectilinear contour to the fenders. Deluxe models featured fender-top turn signal indicators with a stylized fin motif. The bumpers were larger, and the grille featured a strong grid theme. A center console was optional for the first time.

Although the first Barracudas were heavily based on the contemporary Valiants, Plymouth wanted them perceived as distinct models. Consequently, the "Valiant" chrome script that appeared on the ​1964 1⁄2 model's trunk lid was phased out at the end of the 1965 model year in the U.S. market, and the large stylized "V" trim above the deck lid was changed to a unique Barracuda fish logo for 1966,[4] though in markets such as Canada and South Africa, where Valiant was a marque in its own right, the car remained badged as Valiant Barracuda until the A-body Barracuda was discontinued

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