The First Pony Car: 1964 Barracuda

August 22, 2012 § Leave a comment


1964 advertisement for the new Plymouth Barracuda fastback

Ponies and horses: the Barracuda in the summer of 1964

Plymouth unveiled the Barracuda (nearly named, according to some sources, the Panda; thank goodness they re-thought that idea) in April of 1964, so this ad from July of that year appeared a few months into its life. The Barracuda would, of course, be vastly modified in the years to come. As a piece on carbuzz.com says, “Though nearly all pony cars went through some pretty serious changes in the first few years of their existence, the changes which Plymouth scrambled to implement on the Barracuda are certainly the most dramatic. The first-generation Barracuda came out just two weeks before the first Mustang, and although it did have several of the elements of the pony car, it wasn’t quite what the car-buying public was looking for, and the more-powerful Mustang outsold the Barracuda by a huge margin.”

That margin was, I believe, about 8:1. I have no idea how much cost played into that fact, but the base price of the Barracuda did happen to be a little more than the Mustang – about $2,5oo as compared to $2,368 for the Ford. But that translates to about $1,000 in today’s money, so it was perhaps not an entirely small matter.

As the carbuzz piece continues, “Thus began the processes of rethinking the Barracuda, one which would eventually lead it to become the legendary ‘Cuda. The original Barracuda was not without its charm. Based heavily on the Valiant, the fastback body incorporated a large wraparound rear window.At 14.4 square feet, this window was not only the Barracuda’s most distinctive design feature, but also the largest window to have been fitted to any production car in the world at the time.”

Hemmings provides the following table of estimated low, average and high values for the car today (noting that the 273-cu.in. V-8 with two-barrel carburetor is worth about 10% more):

1964 Sport Hardtop $5,000 $9,000 $13,000
1965 Sport hardtop $5,500 $9,500 $14,000
1965 Formula S $6,500 $11,500 $17,000
1966 Sport hardtop $5,500 $9,000 $13,500
1966 Formula S $6,500 $11,000 $16,000

The Barracuda looked pretty much the same until 1967, when, as musclecarclub.com says, it “finally became a true pony car” – though buyers had to wait until 1969 for Plymouth to “finally get serious about performance.”

The rest – or at least for a few years, anyway – was, as they say, history.

An orange 1970 Plymouth Barracuda in beautiful condition

The Barracuda by 1970

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