Based on her high school basketball exploits, Alaska's former governor was given the nickname of Sarah Barracuda. Like Palin, today's Nice Price or Crack Pipe Plymouth Barracuda may master the rebound, but will its price keep it in the backcourt?
There's no indication that Sarah Palin ever drove one of her nick-namesake Plymouths, although its intrinsic American-ness might have been something that would have resonated with both her and her fans. The Barracuda with wheels, as opposed to either an up and coming political mover, or a fish, first appeared on American roads in 1964 as a fastback derivative of the Valiant family car. That A-body could be had with either of two slant sixes, or a small but roarty V8. While the sixes were economical, it was the V8 ‘Cudas that made a name for the marque, and remain the most sought-after today.
With the dawning of the pony car age, the Barracuda's Valiant-with-a-toupee look gave way to a bespoke design in '67, and a whole separate, and larger, E-body platform for its '70 through '74 swan song. That full-pony is exemplified by today's claimed numbers-matching and all-original '71 ‘Cuda, which is resplendent in black, just like the one in Phantasm! That's one's not just black, but black velvet, or so says the seller, a plus if you also have a jones for a canvas upon which to do a portrait of Elvis. The body looks factory fresh and differs from its Dodge Challenger twin only in minor detail- notably tail and head lights, grille, and - for '71 only - some karate chop gills on the fenders. Hi-ya!
A lot of ‘Cudas from this era suffer from jackassidosis, the symptoms of which are a rear end raised egregiously on shackle extensions and whopping-big tires on chrome Cragars. This one is claimed to have been garage kept its entire life, and that may be the reason it escaped such an ignominy, having instead a set of factory steelies with bright trim rings to keep its tires from rolling away. The eBay ad for the car contains a 'Cudagasm of pictures, denoting its every nook, cranny and VIN-decoded feature. Additionally, they show that there have been no additions of spoilers, wings or side exhausts to mar the ‘Cuda's original clean lines.
Inside, it's equally clean and surprisingly spartan. The 5-gauge instrument cluster lacks a tachometer, but rests in an unblemished dash panel that tucks in high off the floor like a dog peeing in a bathtub. The seats, like most of the interior are black vinyl and about as contoured as a basketball court. Adding some panache to the plastic is a faux wood application to both three-spoke wheel and center console, which also houses the T-handle transmission lever.
That T-handle is attached to, and actuates, an A727 Torqueflite, which is in turn bolted behind a 275-bhp 340 V8. While not a 440-6-pack, cars with those monsters usually go for twice today's asking. The smaller LA V8, whether 318, 340, or 360, is a rock solid motor with a history of horsepower, even if it doesn't sport the iconic Hemi combustion chamber. Here, those 4-barrel fed 275 ponies are pushing around 3,000-lbs, a combo that Hot Rod says was good for a zero to sixty time of 6.4 seconds, and a quarter in 14.2. Those are numbers that are hard to argue with.
Of course one number you could argue with is the price, after all that's what we're all here for, isn't it? The prices for ‘Cudas are all over the board, from a few grand for the clapped-out dog turds, to six figures when you get into the etherial region of cars that are one of only five with that color, engine and radio delete option packages. This Barracuda is one of 3,340 340-powered cars cranked out in '71 and has a radio. It does lack A/C, but that's the way it came from the factory, and that, along with all the other original factory parts and features (would you trust that space-saver spare?), make this - if not the most desirable ‘Cuda - at least one worthy of interest. But is it $79,500 worthy? That's a lot of bank, especially as pony car prices have recently bobbed up and down more than Linda Lovelace ever did. What do you think, is it worth that? Or, does that price make this a shouldn't, wouldn't ‘Cuda-n't?
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