The 1964 Plymouth Barracuda was Chrysler’s valiant but futile effort to unseat the Ford Mustang. But the car was the Plymouth Valiant prettied up and with a wraparound rear window. Hitting the showroom two weeks before the Mustang did, the car that was at first wanted to be named Panda was given the Barracuda name instead.
Plymouth as well as other automakers were fascinated with manufacturing sport compacts in the mid sixties. The race was heating up but the original pony car, the Mustang was hard to beat. The Barracuda’s sale for the whole of 1964, 23,443 barely beat Mustang’s sale of 22,000 units on its first day alone.
The ‘Cuda wasn’t a bad car. Good performance, poised and refined, it handled crisply and had a smooth ride. In fact, Road and Track magazine opined that the car was perfect. Power brakes were standard, big drums front and rear. There was the Prismatic day-and-night mirror that could be adjusted to deflect annoying headlight glare at night. Instruments were matte silver with circular chrome bezels.
Although the padded dash was extra, buyers ponied up the extra $16.35 for it as well as the wood-grain steering wheel that gave one the feel of a racing car. TorqueFlite automatic transmission could be ordered as an extra. Base engines were 170 cid V6. Optional was Chrysler’s new Hurst-linkage manual transmission along with new Sure-Grip differential.
Other features were the fastback glass wrapped down to the rear fender line and was the largest use of glass in any production car to date. The rear seats folded forward to produce a large cargo area.