Ask the average enthusiast to name a pony car and most will inevitably say “Mustang” or “Camaro”. Ask a Mopar guy and you''ll hear the history of the Plymouth Barracuda. It was publicly available two full weeks before the Mustang, did everything just as well (if not better) and still managed to lag behind the competition in volume sales. Thankfully, history has righted the oversights of the 1960s buying public and put these cars back in the spotlight. If you wanted the baddest fish on the street in 1968, a car like this killer Barracuda Formula S would''ve been the ideal purchase. Dressed in a low key color, with a 383 under the hood, this fully restored 55,128-actual mile A-body is the kind of big-motor-small-car situation that puts a smile on any gearhead''s face. One of approximately 395 to have an automatic-backed 383, it also has the rarity factor. Regardless if you have a Mopar collection or just an empty space in the garage, this ''68 Barracuda is definitely worth a closer look.
Before we get started, here''s the VIN broken down so you know it''s a true 383 car:
B: Plymouth Barracuda
H: Price class – High
29: Two-door sports hardtop
H: 383cid V8
B: Assembled at the Hamtramck, Michigan plant
Although it continued to share many components with the Valiant, the second generation Barracuda was fully redesigned with model-specific sheet metal that provided a more upscale and aggressive appearance worthy of competing with other pony cars of the day. Like the Mustang, the Barracuda was available in three body styles, including convertible and notchback, but most would agree that they look best when outfitted as a fastback like this one. The subject of a lengthy restoration, the Ember Gold paint shows well with a glossy surface free of any major blemishes. Underneath that paint, the body is arrow straight without a bad angle in sight. Panel fitment is above average and the car exudes the kind of quality you''d expect from a top notch restoration.
When it came to ornamentation, Plymouth designers steered clear of excess for the ''68 model year. To the front of the car, the inverted trapezoid grille is trimmed in stainless steel with deep-set vertical bars and crystal clear parking lights hanging between bright halogen headlights. Behind the grille, the gold hood plays host to a set of mint 383 S hood inserts. If you''ve restored one of these cars, you''re already well aware of how difficult those are to find. At the sides of the grille, ''68-exclusive marker lights combine with wide wheel well openings, new chrome door handles and a handsome metal fuel filler for some added character. At the top, show quality glass is cleared by matte stainless wipers and flanked by a chrome driver''s mirror. To the rear of the car, a concave rear valence hangs fresh tail lights at the edges of a show quality bumper with dual chrome exhaust tips just below. Overall, it''s a clean simple design that could easily trick the uninitiated into believing this is nothing more than a 318-powered grocery getter.
Pop the hood and you’ll find a potent 383cid V8. While not the original block, it’s the correct engine for the car and looks factory fresh thanks to some attention to detail on behalf of the builders. The block features era correct turquoise paint that contrasts nicely against the gold back drop. Under the wrinkle finish air cleaner, complete with a Super Commando decal, a Carter four-barrel carburetor delivers atomized fuel to a new-for-1968 intake manifold. That intake, combined with revised heads, helped the engine produce 300 horsepower according to Chrysler marketing of the day – 20hp more than the ''67 model. Though the car had been designed to accept the 383, clearance was tight, meaning buyers would have to go without features like power steering or air conditioning. On the bright side, that meant fewer power-stealing accessories. This engine sports nothing more than an alternator and fan at the front end. From the Mopar battery to the correct wiper motor, the bay presents well. Turn the key and the 383 roars to life, sounding strong through headers and a true dual exhaust system with Pypes mufflers.
Look under the car and you''ll find an equally clean undercarriage. The floors are rock solid, painted body color and provide the perfect backdrop for the restored suspension. Behind the motor, the original A727 Torqueflite three-speed automatic takes care of gear selection with the same authority it did in 1968 while a 8 3/4-inch rear end puts the power to the pavement. Around that drivetrain, an OEM-style suspension remains in place with torsion bars up front and parallel leafs out back. All the Formula S hallmarks are also present including stiffer springs and firmer springs. While the 383 cars didn''t earn their place in history as canyon carvers, the suspension feels tight and more than adequate to take on the backroads. When turns get twisty, the pedal on the left clamps down on discs up front and drums out back. At the corners, steel wheels are painted Ember Gold, topped with Plymouth dog dishes and wrapped in BFG Radial T/A''s for a no B.S. demeanor that perfectly matches the rest of the car.
Open the doors and a restored black vinyl interior awaits. Despite its compact classification, the Barracuda is a surprisingly comfortable place to spend time. The black bucket seats not only look great but provide the kind of support that makes long drives bearable. From the driver''s seat, the simple but pleasant dashboard host factory gauges that keep taps on speed, fuel, temperature, oil pressure and alternator output. The steering wheel is a three-spoke aluminum piece that adds some sportiness to the cabin. Further over, controls for the heater, defroster and AM radio sit in the center of the dash with a Barracuda emblem placed in the far right corner. Between the seats, a chrome-trimmed, silver-topped center console houses a storage compartment and the chrome gear selector. At either side, nicely finished door panels covered by a simple black vinyl pattern host arm rests, window cranks and little else. From the carpet to the headliner, everything looks showroom new and ready for years of enjoyment.
Regardless if you’re into rare Mopars, sleepers, or just engine bays stuffed with big motors, this ’68 Barracuda Formula S has something to offer nearly every enthusiast. Factor in its top-notch restoration and you’ve got a real winner. If you’re ready to hit the streets in one of the unspoken heroes of the pony car world, don’t miss the chance to make this A-body yours!