In 1971, Plymouth built nine examples of the most valuable muscle-car on the planet: the Hemicuda Convertible. And, as many of you know, these incredible rare cars have sold for upwards of three million dollars over the past five years. And rightly so: they were Chrysler’s parting shot at the muscle car era. Massively over-powered and stuffed with ultra-cool options like Shaker hoods, billboard stripes and 8-track players, these were cars which, if you could afford the gas back in the early 70s, made just about any muscle-car fan weak in the knees.
To the best of my knowledge, all nine Hemicuda convertibles have been accounted for, with a fake or two thrown in for good measure. Most have been restored and have traded hands for insane amounts of money.
Now what if I told you about a Barracuda convertible that is just as rare as a 1971 Hemicuda convertible? In fact, they made exactly nine. And, in fact, it had the hottest power-train combination available for its model year? And, what if I bet you a case of Sam Adams that you’ve probably never heard of one, let alone seen one up close? Would you take me up on that bet? If I can get enough of you to take me up on it without reading, I believe I am going to have a very large beer truck pulling up to our Charlotte showroom next week! So sit back and learn about the RAREST Barracuda Convertible ever built and, most likely, one of the only two or three left in existence. In fact, if any of you out there know where any of the other eight cars are, let us know.
Our story begins on June 10, 1967. On that day, Barton W. Quarm of Kirtland, Ohio took delivery of a 1967 Plymouth Barracuda Convertible from Walton Chrysler-Plymouth of Painesville, Ohio. We’re not sure if Barton ordered this car brand new or if Walton Chrysler-Plymouth just happened to take delivery of the car for showroom stock and Barton saw it while shopping for a new car and purchased it. What we DO know is that Barton was the original owner of the car, as evidenced by the ORIGINAL factory warranty booklet issued by the dealer on June 10, 1967. Along with the warranty booklet, we also have the original Chrysler Sound System manual, an original Chrysler Crew boat accessory booklet, an original California clean air package insert and the original Chrysler Airtemp manual. This isn’t stuff we picked up off of Ebay; these items are original to the car. We also have the original Chrysler Certicard that was issued to Barton by Chrysler. I’ve seen quite a few Certicards and this one is in mint condition. It doesn’t appear that Barton ever put the Certicard in the engine compartment and, instead, placed it in the original plastic manual bag for safekeeping.
Now I’m going to skip forward a bit. We found this car back in 2007 supposedly sporting 31,223 actual, original miles. A backyard restoration had been started some years before and he had quite a ways to go in the process. Apparently, he had run out of both time and money, and fortunately for us, a deal was struck. When we located the car, we had no idea how rare it was, but we quickly found out. I managed to track down Barton Quarm''s son, who recounted that he remembered the car quite clearly. He filled us in on some of the car’s history, which verified the car’s low mileage status. Apparently, in 1971 the Barracuda needed a brake job. Barton put the car up on jack stands in his barn, with the intent of doing just that, but simply never got around to it. The car sat on jack stands until 1974 when Barton told his son he couldn’t afford gas for the car and, since it was a lousy winter driver, was content to let it sit.
So the car sat until September 12, 1983, at which time Barton signed the title over as a gift to a relative, James W. Ablanalp of Willoughby, Ohio, with exactly 31,223 miles on the odometer. We have a copy of that title which documents the transaction. From here, the history of the car gets a little fuzzy. Local legend is that the car sat outside a small body shop for a few years and changed hands a couple of more times. And when we found the car, it had been very poorly repainted by a local Chrysler/Plymouth dealer that’s no longer in business.
After purchasing the car and determining just how rare it was, we knew that we had to restore it back to its original glory. That started with a thorough review of original build specs. Thankfully, the pristine original Chrysler Corporation Broadcast Sheet had been pulled out at some point in its past, so we had a complete roadmap of how this Barracuda was originally constructed. As well, we wrote to Chrysler Historical and received a copy of the original IBM punch card for the car. Since we had the original Broadcast Sheet, the punch card wasn’t so crucial, but it was nice to have independent verification direct from Chrysler. Lastly, we reviewed a Galen Govier report on the car. Because it’s a 1967, Galen has an accurate count on how many of a particular make/model of a car were built and, as he pointed out in his report, only NINE 383 Barracuda Convertibles were built in 1967, and our car was number six. We don’t know how many were four speeds and how many were automatics, but if history is any judge, we’d be willing to bet that perhaps only four or five of the cars were of the four speed variety.
Here’s a breakdown of the original fender tag, as supplied by Galen:
BH Car Line: Plymouth Barracuda
27 Body Type: Convertible
62 Engine: 383 1-4bbl 280hp 8 cylinder Dual Exhaust
3 Transmissions: A833 4-Speed Manual Inland Shifter
28 Tires: D70 x 14” Red Streak
5 Quantity: 5 Includes Spare
425 Scheduled Production Date: Tuesday April 25, 1967
02219 Shipping Order Number Plymouth
A4 Ratio: 3.23:1 8.75” Axle
X8 Axle: Sure Grip
TH Trim Grade: High
R6 Front Seat: Vinyl Buckets
MX Interior: Black
PR Roof Paint: Yellow
NR Body Paint: Yellow
T1 Paint Style: Mono-tone
UB Upper Door Frame Color: Black
B No Buffed Paints Stripes: none
D9 Front Disc Brakes
F7 Formula S Package
M2 Designated Line 2 Build After 118
SPDR1 Music Master AM Radio
T4 Performance Gauge
X2 Tinted Windshields Only
Y1 Convertible Top: Black
B4 Bucket Seats
So there you have it: a 1967 Plymouth Barracuda Formula S Convertible, with bucket seats, console, disc brakes and powered by a 383 and 4-speed. No, it’s not a 1971 Hemicuda, but as ''67 cars, this is the ultimate A-body.
When we made the decision to restore this car, we had mixed emotions. First, we knew it was going to be a difficult job. 1967 A-body cars are simply hard to restore. There are very few reproduction parts available and good original parts are expensive. Thankfully, the original drive-train was present and the incredibly rare and impossible to find 1967 A-body big block K-member was present. Second, we knew this would be a money loser for us. Like most businesses, there is a financial common sense standpoint that must be present in any project. And this one made little sense. To properly restore this Barracuda to concours standards would mean a final price tag with parts and labor right around the $150K mark. Of course, we knew the car wouldn’t be worth this when we were done, but, in the end, we decided that this was a Mopar that simply needed to be restored. It was simply too rare and too cool to let it languish for another 36 years.
After spending a good 18 months scouring swap meets, the Mopar Nationals, and Carlisle for all the original parts we would need, the restoration process began.
The entire car was disassembled to a bare shell with all parts inventoried. All of the original chrome, including the bumpers, emblems, fish symbols, and interior chrome parts were sent to Custom Chrome Plating in Grafton, Ohio for triple chrome plating. If you’ve ever seen Custom Chrome’s work, you know how good it is. National show-winning good! Likewise, we gave them all of the stainless steel trim for expert polishing. We sent off the original and impossible to find two-piece grille to King of Trim in California for re-anodizing and restoration.
After the body was taken down to a bare shell, we knew we would need new inner quarter panels and a new trunk floor. After about six months of searching, we located original pieces. While we were searching for parts, the body and all panels were dipped and e-coated. This process assures that you are dealing with 100% solid metal, with nothing hidden anywhere. After the replacement panels were expertly installed, with all factory welds replicated, the Barracuda''s body was primed and block sanded to straight perfection.
While this work was being done, we scoured the swap meets for a complete set of correct 1967 14 Sport wheel covers. As some of you may know, these wheel covers are difficult to find in good condition. In most cases, they are cracked and un-restorable. Eventually, we were able to create a set of five expertly restored wheel covers after purchasing three complete sets.
At the same time, restored parts started to trickle back in. The original Barracuda emblems, front and rear bumpers, Formula S emblems, fish insignias, and interior chrome parts came back from the chrome shop, along with all of the newly polished stainless steel. We located NOS rear tail lights for the car, and the restored grilles came back looking like a million bucks.
The original engine and transmission were torn down for complete rebuilds. The original 280 horsepower 383 engine was fully rebuilt and sports its original air cleaner, exhaust manifolds, intake, carburetor and distributor. Because the Barracuda only had 31,000 original miles, an overbore was not necessary. The original A833 4-speed manual transmission was also rebuilt and restored to factory specs and appearance.
With the body and drivetrain complete and restored parts showing up on a daily basis, it was time to turn our attention to applying a world class paint job. Using our paint of choice, the guys at our restoration shop laid down an absolutely flawless application of factory Yellow PPG base coat/clear (DBC/2002). With countless hours spent sanding, the end result is nothing short of spectacular. 100% metal, without an ounce of filler to be found in the completed body, this Barracuda has a perfectly straight metal body with blinding paint. Underneath, we replicated the factory primer process, with blown overspray. Truth be told, we were a little neater about it than Mopar was in 1967.
After the body and paint were complete, final assembly began. All new weather-stripping, body bumpers, grommets and seals were used throughout this Barracuda. The convertible top frame and hardware, with every single nut and bolt restored and properly repainted was reinstalled. New date coded glass was installed, both sides and windshield. Underneath, the original 8 ¾ axle, fully rebuilt, was put in place, along with new reproduction leaf springs. A new fuel tank was installed, along with fresh stainless steel fuel and brake lines. The completely restored front suspension was reinstalled as well. A correct reproduction dual exhaust system that’s complete with OEM -style mufflers and correct chrome tips finished off the show quality undercarriage.
The restored drivetrain was carefully dropped into the Barracuda and connected to the brand new wiring harnesses. The rebuilt steering box was installed. The restored radiator was reinstalled, along with a restored wiper motor. The 10” front disc braking system and rear 10” drum braking system were rebuilt to factory specs and capped off by the restored 14” wheels, restored wheel covers and reproduction 14” red streak tires.
Now it was time for all of the exterior trim, including the restored grilles, the tail light bezels, the emblems, stainless steel moldings, the re-chromed original door handles, and original bumpers. After these items were installed, we could see just how special this car was going to be. Most Mopar guys have never seen one of these before and this one was going to be the best in the world. We wish we had some period pictures of the car back when it was new to compare the original with the restored.
With the exterior of the car coming together nicely, it was time to finish off the interior. The restored dash went into place perfectly, nicely hiding the restored heater box and controls. The fresh dash pad and rebuilt instrument cluster are simply stunning. The original Inland shifter was rebuilt and nestled into the restored console beside a hidden CD player that’s complete with a modern MP3 dock. Both the rear seat and front seats were expertly recovered, with new foams for good measure. The seats were installed over the new carpeting and sound deadener, which are topped with new floor mats. The door panels are new and the door handles and window cranks are re-chromed originals. Whenever possible, we used original 1967 parts for the restoration of this Barracuda and it shows! Our expert interior restoration specialist, Ralph Farinacci, installed a brand new black vinyl convertible top, along with a correct black vinyl top boot to finish off this rare Barracuda.
With the interior complete, we turned our attention to the trunk, where a correct reproduction trunk mat was put into place, with a correct spare and jack assembly. This amazing and rare Barracuda was complete!
If you are a classic car collector, there are cars that are rare (1 of 7 built with a 440, a four speed, with blue paint, a black top and a white interior) and then there are cars that are RARE. We have sold a 1 of 17 1971 Pontiac GTO Judge Convertible for $280,000.00. Guess what? Chrysler made half as many 1967 Plymouth Barracuda Formula S convertibles with a big block. And how many are still with us? One? Two? In fact, there are fewer 1967 big block convertibles in existence than 1971 Plymouth Hemicuda convertibles. Are they as valuable? Heck no. But if you are a Mopar collector with just about everything else in your collection, you need this car.
This Barracuda is special, and it belongs in the hands of someone who has just about everything except this car. Outside of a 1967 HEMI GTX or Coronet, what other 67 Mopar is worth having? Flawlessly restored, numbers matching, documented, with a near complete owner history, this is an extremely significant and rare car that you will most likely never see for sale again. We will definitely be crying in our beer when this one leaves our building!