Early Valiant Barracuda Club home page


Gary Viola tells
his own story:

1964 Plymouth Barracuda

"I own a 1964 Barracuda. This car has been an off-and-on daily driver for the past 5 years. It was purchased to replace a really rusty 1977 Road Runner project car, but has definitely served more than "project car" duties.

1964 Plymouth BarracudaJust prior to my senior year in High School, a friend of my mother's was moving to Virginia, and had to sell this Barracuda. So in late August 1997 I became the third owner of this 225 powered fish for the reasonable price of $1000. Originally purchased by a 60 year-old lady, the car hadn't even accumulated 40,000 miles before she passed. The next owner purchased with intent to restore, but the Barracuda sat for 5 years outside under a cover, before I rescued it. The 'cuda's paint was worse for wear and aside from severe fender rot, the car was pretty much rust free, exactly what I had wanted to get away from. The 225 had sticking valves, which BENT the pushrods. My parents wouldn't allow me to take possession of the car unless it ran, so during the end of August and beginning of September I worked after work and school learning first hand car repair. $220 in parts and tools later I drove it home on CT temporary plates. During those 20 days I managed to put tires on it, have a custom exhaust put in, rebuilt the Carter 1bbl, new fuel pump, learned about brake fluid evaporation (after a SCARY drive to work), and had 3 valves finally get stuck (again). During the remainder of the school year, I slowly worked on the car to get it permanently registered. The only large problem presented me was fixing the rust on the front fenders and bad ball joints. Thanks to fiberglass and Bondo I fixed the fenders, and filling the ball joints with grease got me through CT safety inspection to put plates on the car.

1964 Plymouth BarracudaDuring the next 4 years, the 'cuda has served off and on as my daily driver, hindering any restoration process. It started the summer of 98 when I lost the brakes in my primary vehicle. In January of 2000 I sold said primary vehicle to pay for college, so with the 'cuda as my only car, I drove it everyday at college, 250 miles from home. That experience alone taught me much about repair and maintenance as I replaced a rear end, electrical system, and several other "minor" things. Fortunately I had fixed the ball joints and updated the 9" drums the summer of 99. Also, the typical college kid in me managed to put in a stereo which included 3 10" subs in the back panel with a 400W amplifier. Those 5 months also supplied me with a lifetime of memories about the 'cuda. In May of 2000 I purchased another primary car, and toured the 'cuda the following summer and fall at car shows as its "before" state. I parked it in Oct of 2000, hoping to restore it after the Spring 2001 semester but yet again, just another hope. I purchased a 67 Barracuda that December which was money that I now realize should've went to this 64. In May of 2001 my primary blew its tranny so once again the 'cuda stepped back up to the plate until July when I purchased a Volaré. Just when I think it's safe, Oct of 2001 brings a blown 7.25 rear to the Volaré which sidelines that car for a couple weeks. I also managed to realize my real love by then and sold my 67, one project is enough!

I still realized that if my primary car went, I'd be back to the 'cuda yet again so I kept my eyes out for another cheap daily driver Mopar in the classifieds. Fortune came Dec of 2001 with a cheap 83 Cordoba that only needed a new transmission. As of Feb 02 both the Cordoba (daily driver) and Volaré (parts chaser/backup car) serve transportation duties, solidifying the 'cuda's restoration after 4 and a half years! Its amazing how much rust accumulated after adding 10,000 miles to the odometer.

Barracuda subwoofersMy plan with the 'cuda has always been to modify it. I've always wanted to set up a stiff chassis for autocross and drag racing to provide a nice cruising car. I initially got a 318 for it, but after considering the costs to redo a V8, I decided to keep the 225 over putting in a 318. I later acquired, for free, a thick wall 360 block that will eventually reside between fiberglass fenders. This project is now dubbed "Formula 'X,'" because we know that there were no Formula 'S' cars in 64. The exterior will show restored red paint with a bright red 65 sport stripe, and fiberglass replacing bad sheet metal. I also have 2 hoods for the car, one to "go" with the car, and the other with a 68 SS scoop on it to be painted organosol black. The kicker is the lone emblem I will be making up, with X in the place of S which will be placed on the rear sail panel, where some 64s have the Valiant residing (mine never did). The "X" will ride on 16" rims and low profile rubber, tucked in the original wheel wells, not the jacked up Super Stock spring look. The interior will be mostly business with a radio delete plate (big change from ear shattering bass) and a 6 point roll bar. I'm still not sure what the back seat will be doing there after the jungle gym is in place. The drive train will consist of said 360, far from stock, putting power to a 904 transmission and further down to the ever faithful 8.75 rear end, which I'll have 2 gear sets for. Planting the tires is the rather basic Chrysler suspension, consisting of front and rear sway bars, thick torsion bars, "Formula 'S'" rear springs and stopping the "X" will be the Chrysler 11.75" discs up front.

The original slant 6 engine:   slant 6 engine

My current goal for 2002 is to fully strip it to the unibody, patch up the body, weld in subframe connectors, and hopefully have it at the paint shop by the end of the year. I'm looking for the "X" to make its debut in time for Carlisle in 2004, whether it's completely finished or not.

Gary "CudaZappa" Viola, Middlefield, CT
64 225 to 360 'cuda / 80 225 Volare 4dr / 83 318 'doba