There are 2 big milestone birthdays being celebrated this year. The Ford Mustang and the Plymouth Barracuda are both entering The Golden Era!!! While the Ford Mustang galloped into American culture almost 50 years ago and today seems as though it is just getting warmed up, let us not forget that it wasn’t the first sporty American car based on a compact car platform aimed at younger buyers. Instead, Chrysler beat Ford to the punch by a couple of weeks, so let’s take a moment to celebrate the Plymouth Barracuda’s 50th birthday.
Unleashed on April 1, 1964; Plymouth’s new Valiant Barracuda package was unlike anything else on the market at the time. Buyers would be able to choose between manual and automatic transmissions, and a generous selection of options allowed buyers to configure their new sporty Plymouth to suit individual tastes. The car’s most distinctive feature, however, was likely its large glass rear window, which flowed into a rear deck lid raised to meet the bottom of the glass. The Barracuda evolved and changed over the years until its final year on the market – 1974, when just 11,734 units were sold. Sadly, this was hardly a fitting send-off for the car that helped establish the pony car segment.
There has been talk in recent years of a Barracuda revival (illustration shown above), with rumors of a performance model slotted in below the Challenger in Chrysler’s lineup. With no Plymouth division remaining, this would seem oddly out of place, and with the government’s renewed focus on fuel economy over performance, such a revival seems unlikely. However, on the occasion of the car’s 50th birthday we can imagine what the Plymouth Barracuda would be today; or perhaps its best to remember it as it was, then, and not as it could have been.
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