Thursday, August 4, 2016

Plymouth's 1st-Generation Barracuda

April 1964 saw the introduction of the first so-called "pony car," a relatively inexpensive, sporty, compact (by American standards) automobile  No, it wasn't the Ford Mustang, whose name gave rise to the pony car label.  It was actually the Plymouth Barracuda (Wikipedia entry here).  The far more successful -- in terms of sales -- Mustang was introduced two weeks later.

The first Barracuda generation was produced model years 1964-1966, the final third generation car ended production in 1974.  The first two Barracuda generation models were reworked Plymouth Valiants, the Valiant being Plymouth's compact line.


Here is a two-door 1964 Plymouth Valiant, the basis for first-generation Barracudas.

And this is a 1964 Barracuda.  It has a different grille and the V-slash on the front fender is tighter.  The major difference has to do with the passenger greenhouse aft of the windshield and wing-vents.  The trunk and other rear-end details were changed as well.

Here is general view of a first-generation Barracuda that shows the grille design better.

This side view is a sales photo of a 1965 Barracuda Formula S "performance" variation.  Barracuda's most distinctive feature is the huge backlight (styling jargon) or rear window.  In profile, it doesn't seem particularly massive.

But from any other angle aft of dead center, the backlight looks quite large.  Moreover, it seems heavy looking, something of a surprise for an area of glass; one would ordinarily expect glass to lend visual lightness.  In fact, when seen in person, Barracudas looked a lot heavier than competing Mustangs, perhaps a factor in their relative sales performances.

Barracuda rear seat backs could be folded down to increase hauling capacity.  This photo that seems to be from Motor Trend magazine shows the small trunk lid that nevertheless allowed shallow objects to be loaded.

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