1967-1969 Plymouth Barracuda 383/440

Barracuda became a Plymouth series all its own in 1967. It marked the occasion with a two-inch wheelbase stretch, to 108, and with the addition of a two-door hardtop and convertible to go along with its fastback body style.

Any resemblance to the Valiant was gone. The styling was more rounded than anything else in the Chrysler line, and the new hardtop was especially continental in flavor. Along with the new body came an engine bay wider by two inches. That was a clue to what Plymouth had in mind for this second-generation Barracuda.

1967 Plymouth Barracuda
The 1967 Plymouth Barracuda’s engine bay was widened by two inches,
making rooom to fit the big 383- and 440-cid engines.

The base ’67 Barracudas were equipped with the familiar MoPar slant six engine, while both 273 cubic-inch V-8s remained options. But Plymouth had tracked the performance winds and found them blowing toward more cubic inches. The automaker had apparently intended to offer a fortified version of its 318-cubic-inch V-8 in the ’67 Barracuda. But it learned that Mustang would be available with a 390 V-8 for ’67, the Chevy Camaro with a 396, and the Pontiac Firebird a 400.

Plymouth responded by shoehorning in the 383-cubic-inch B-Wedge V-8. With its single Carter AFB four-barrel and 10.0:1 compression ratio, it was good for 280 horsepower. The 383 was optional only in the top-of-the-line fastback Formula S Barracuda, and brought as standard a four-speed manual transmission; TorqueFlite was optional. The only axle ratio available with the 383 was a 3.23:1.

Like its predecessors, the ’67 Barracuda had front torsion-bar and rear leaf-spring suspension, and four-wheel drum brakes. The firm-riding Formula S package included front disc brakes as well as bigger D70x14 tires.

What couldn’t be fitted, as it turned out, was something the 383 Barracuda desperately needed: power steering. The 383 engine’s exhaust headers occupied the space normally filled by the power steering pump. Trying to park a nose-heavy 383 Barracuda with the standard manual steering was “like trying to dock the Queen Mary,” moaned Car and Driver.

Customers found enough to like, however, and Barracuda sales increased sharply for ’67. Some 94 percent of the 62,534 production total was split about evenly between the fastback and the new hardtop. The new convertible accounted for the balance, with 4228 built.

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1968 Plymouth Barracuda 383/440

Except for grille and trim alterations, the 1968 Barracuda was largely a stylistic rehash. But there were important changes under the hood. The 273 V-8s were dropped in favor of the 230-horsepower 318 as the base V-8. The Formula S package was extended to the hardtop and convertible models and now it could be had with MoPar’s frisky 275-horsepower 340-cube four-barrel.

1968 Plymouth Barracuda 383
MoPar’s fine 340-cid four-barrel was new to the 1968 Plymouth Barracuda 383
Formula S. A good one would turn the quarter in the high 15s.

The Formula S 383, meanwhile, got a boost to 300 horsepower, courtesy of new cylinder heads and a new intake manifold. It did not, however, get a power-steering option. Both Formula S V-8s were mated with a standard four-speed or an optional automatic. A 3.23:1 rear axle was standard with both this year, but the four-speed also could be fitted with a 3.55:1 or 3:91:1 gear and the automatic with a 3.55:1. Suspension upgrades were tailored to each engine and, combined with wider E70×14 tires, helped improve handling.

Fastest of all were the limited-edition Super Stock Hemi Barracudas, which were built under contract by Hurst Performance. Sold through Plymouth dealers for sanctioned drag racing only, these were 10-second, 130-mph quarter-mile machines. Barracuda sales slipped this year, with only 45,412 coming off the line; ragtop production was down by nearly 40 percent, to 2840.

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1969 Plymouth Barracuda 383/440

Plymouth committed itself to Barracuda performance hook, line, and sinker in 1969. It began by using the ’Cuda name officially to denote a new enthusiast package. Sold with the 340 or 383 engines in fastback or hardtop, the ’Cuda tag basically meant an appearance group with Formula S underpinnings. A pair of non-functional hood scoops, two black hood stripes, black lower-body paint, and ’Cuda fender decals were its styling cues. The Formula S package could still be ordered on any body style. Cast-aluminum wheels were a new option across the line. The 383 was increased to 330 horsepower and finally was available with power steering.

But the baddest ’Cuda of all came in on a wave that crested mid-year. Feeling pressure again from rival big-block pony cars, Plymouth abandoned all restraint and stuffed MoPar’s 375-horsepower 440-cubic-inch four-barrel V-8 into the Barracuda. The results were mixed. On the positive side, Plymouth now had bragging rights to the largest-displacement pony car up to that time. And the 440 sure did get the ETs down, usually into the high 13s at around 104 mph. But there were problems.

The engine bay was once again too crowded to allow a power steering pump. And with 57 percent of the ’Cuda 440’s 3400 pounds over the front tires, that was as much a drawback as it had been with the original 383. Neither was there enough room for a booster that was needed to energize the front disc brakes that were standard on other ’Cudas. So the 440 did without those as well, to the detriment of stopping distances.

Finally, MoPar engineers feared that a four-speed manual transmission would encourage speed shifts that would destroy the 440 ’Cuda’s rear-end hardware. So this muscle fish came only with the TorqueFlite. Though it turned a respectable 14.01 at 103.81, Car Life magazine said it was disappointed in the 440 ’Cuda’s drag-strip performance. It was difficult to get the rear tires to bite off the line, and the TorqueFlite—lifted from Plymouth’s family sedans—didn’t shift with a racer’s crispness. The magazine said the 440 ’Cuda was at its best on the highway. There its abundant power reserves afforded effortless passing, its steering and braking shortcomings were minimized, and its firm Formula S suspension made it feel secure. Car Life recommended that performance enthusiasts fishing for more than acceleration alone cast a line for the 340 ’Cuda. “Indeed,” it advised, “there are such obvious discrepancies between the superb way the ’Cuda 440 goes, and the way it does other things (like, for example, stop) that in many ways it is a disturbing automobile.”

Plymouth wasn’t finished with big-block Barracudas, however, not by a long shot. Production of the MoPar compact dipped to 31,987 in this, the last year before a wholesale change would reshape the Barracuda for 1970.

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1967-1969 Plymouth Barracuda 383/440 Specs

Plymouth committed itself to Barracuda performance hook, line, and sinker in the late 1960s. Get the specs for the 1967-1969 Plymouth Barracuda 383/440:

1969 Plymouth Barracuda 440
Both the 1969 Plymouth Barracuda 440 fastback and drop top
were stuffed with the 440-cid V-8 that also joined the line that year.

Engine Type
V-8/B-Block/Wedge
V-8/RB-Block/Wedge
Displacement (cid)
383
440
Horsepower @ rpm:
280 @ 4200
300 @ 4400 (1968)
330 @ 5000 (1969)
375 @ 4600
Torque (pounds/feet) @ rpm
400 @ 2400
425 @ 3200 (1969)
480 @ 3200
Compression Ratio
10.0:1
10.0:1
Bore (inches)
4.25
4.32
Stroke (inches)
3.37
3.75
Valve Lifters
Hydraulic
Hydraulic
Availability
1967-69
1969

Times*:

0-60 mph (sec)
6.6
0-100 mph (sec)
18.7
1/4-mile (sec)
15.4 @ 92 mph
Top speed (mph)
114 (est)
Axle ratio
3.23:1
Engine type
383/280

*Source: Car and Driver (1967)

Times*:

0-60 mph (sec)
5.6
0-100 mph (sec)
13.8
1/4-mile (sec)
14.01 @ 103.81 mph
Top speed (mph)
118
Axle ratio
3.55:1
Engine type
440/375

*Source: Car Life (1969)

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