Plymouth Barracuda

It was year 1964, two weeks before the Ford Mustang debut, when Plymouth designers launched an ace up their sleeve called Barracuda. It was the original pony car, carefully planned for two years as a sportier extension Plymouth Valiant line, targeted for both young males and young families.

The Barracuda model was based on the compact Valiant with a fastback structure, huge backlight and stubby trunk. In fact, it had the largest single piece of glass ever put on a production car at the time.

From the performance standpoint, the vehicle was equipped with a Slant Six 225 cu in six-cylinder engine with 145 hp, a live rear axle and semi-elliptic springs.

A stronger high performance Commando engine was also available as an option. The interior was given a floor shifter, vinyl semi bucket seats, and rear seating. The rear seats could be folded down to make additional room for cargo.

In 1964, Plymouth managed to sell only 23,443 units and was heavily outsold by their competition Ford Mustang eight times. In 1967, Plymouth managers decided to redesign Barracuda model from top to bottom. Among the numerous changes engine bay was enlarged and more importantly the iconic rear window was reduced in size.

Modifications allowed multiple impressive engine configurations, the 340 cu in eight-cylinder being generally accepted as optimal handling version for an average American consumer.

A coupe and convertible were released the same year, totaling Barracuda sales at 62,534 cars. For the next three years, Plymouth didn't make any important changes which resulted in sharp decline of sale numbers. In 1970 the second generation Barracuda was released at the market, regaining previously lost public confidence with sales of 55,499 units.

New convertible and hardtop configuration had a wider body with longer hood including powerful Hemi engine option, which proved popular among the buyers. The success was short lived, as the entire muscle car era was slowly coming to an end.

In 1971, Plymouth produced 17,690 Barracuda units, followed by only 11,734 vehicles the next year. There are many reasons why the muscle car era was over, the main being change of consumer focus. Trends in increased safety and emission regulations raised insurance premiums for most of the muscle car models, making them too expensive for an average buyer.

A global fuel shortage turned people's attention to more fuel-efficient vehicles because of the sharp increase in gasoline prices. At first manufacturers adapted by lowering the performance, and eventually shifted entirely to luxury car market. Plymouth Barracuda was no exception, being offered to the general public in 1974 for the one final time.

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