Early Valiant Barracuda Club home page

Roger Kizer, Club President, tells his own story


Roger's Pride and Joy 1966 Barracuda


I grew up in a MoPar family. Dad drove a white 1966 Barracuda and a red 1964 Valiant (my first car), Mom drove a 1967 Barracuda fastback, and my uncle drove a 1969 Roadrunner. I used to sit and listen to my Dad and Uncle tell stories of how they could take a Mustang from a light every time in the Valiant... I remember riding in his Roadrunner, thinking how cool it was to have the Roadrunner cartoon on the inside of the door panels. Way Cool! Hearing the stories my dad and uncle would tell kinda got me started into cars.

As I got older, I drove the 66 to my High School prom, racing a guy in a 65 Mustang and beating him to the exit ramp. He had a new respect for the "odd shaped" car after that. I did wreck the car in the rain one night doing only suspension damage and I felt awful for doing it. I drove my Mom's Barracuda a lot and even had one of the girls at school tell me I looked good in it and I should drive it more often (hint, hint, wink, wink).

The 64 Valiant was very rotted and my daily driver through high school until the left rear spring shackle was too much for the frame and found its way into the trunk. The car met its final doom at my high school grad party where we painted it demolition derby style, beat it with sledge hammers and rolled it down a hill three times. Later while serving in the Army, stationed in Colorado, I owned a 1968 Barracuda Fastback until I shipped out for Italy. I could have bought any car, but got that bomb instead. No front bumper and the left rear 1/4 panel was bashed in. I bought pin striping for it before I got antifreeze and the block froze popping the freeze plugs out. Hey, it looked cool.

When I got out Army, the 67 and 66 Barracudas were still at home but one of the torsion bars on Mom's car had spun in the rotted frame section where it was mounted. We ended up stripping it of all useful parts and cutting it into easy to carry pieces. The white 66 Barracuda remained for a while and brings me to a story on how I have my current car. We would go grocery shopping at a store where my Mom works and one day parked at a house near the store I spotted a green 1966 Barracuda. I stopped to look and ask if it was for sale, thinking about a parts car. I told him about Dad's car and my plans.

He said he was restoring it and it wasn't for sale. About a week later, he was driving past my parents house and he spotted my Dad's Barracuda and stopped to see if it was for sale. My sister was at the house that day and talked to the guy. I had told her about the green cuda near the store and she told the guy Dad's car was not for sale, but she knew of one nearby. That's when he realized we were talking about the same cars.

In the end I won. 6 months later he had a For Sale sign in the window. Seems after getting it thru inspection (somehow) the engine started to have a bad rod knock. I bought the car for $500.00 and attempted to drive it to my parents house, a 15 mile drive. The 225 /6 was knocking BAD and we got about one mile from the house when #5 connecting rod decided to do some block remodeling and put a large hole in it.

We towed both cars to my house where after some investigation we found dads car to be hopeless. I began the process of removing EVERYTHING useful and some not so useful items. The day they took it away was very tough, there was a lot of sentimental value in that rusty 'Cuda.

Anyway, thats my story. How about we get to the car overhaul?

I bought the car in 1996 and it sat for a while with the blown engine. A guy I worked with who did Mopar restoration work told me he had a complete 318 for me, just come and get it. He said it was "In his way". Everything minus the oil pan, valve covers, oil pump, rockers and push rods. It came with new pistons, rods, bearings, cam, lifters, timing set, valves guides, valves and all the machine work done, FREE! All I had to do was assemble it.

I had some spare components from a Dodge van, bought a gasket kit and oil pump and with the engine mounts from Dads car droped the new engine right in. For the time being I used the 2bbl carburetor and it ran pretty well. With everything else wrong with the car, it was very scary to drive, so it sat until I had some money to buy some parts.

New Motor
The fun begins You used WHAT! Rocker Madness!

2000- 2001, The tear down begins. At this point I had already salvaged as many parts from my Dads Barracuda as possible and sent it to the scrapyard. I pulled the engine and trans and stored it and many other parts in the back of a 1982 Reliant wagon while repairs were made. Rust! And lots of it. Floors, rockers, RF frame, LR frame, RR frame, Fenders, 1/4 panels, Cowl.... The list just kept going. I found floors from a 65'Cuda on eBay that had the rockers still attached and my Brother-in-law came over to show me how to weld. I learned a new mantra that year. "Weld a little, grind a little".

I saved the RF frame section from my Dads 'Cuda, carfefully trimmed it and cut the bad section from my car. I let my bro-in-law weld that in while I watched and learned. Then I got busy on the floors. First I had to remove the "Repairs" the previous owner had done. I mean, seriously, Tool Box ends? You couldn't bother to remove the handles? That and some 4 inch long, over 1/4 in in diameter welds along the right front floor that was holding nothing together. I pried it up with a screwdriver.

rockers and floors Grinding welds Where did the metal come from?

2002- This was the year I made my first trip to The All-Chrysler Nationals at Carlisle, PA. One of the biggest all Mopar shows in the country with an equally large swap meet. I was so excited about the trip I could not sleep the night before. I started the 6 hour trip at 2:30 AM friday morning after being up at 7:00 AM the previous day, and drove almost straight through .By the time I got to the fair grounds I was over 24 hours with no sleep. We hit the swap meet and in the first row was a pair of fenders from a 1966 Valiant with a few dings and little rust. I paid $50.00 for the pair. I don't know if it was the finding the fenders or the lack of sleep but I was giddy the rest of the day!

I also picked up some rear frame ends to replace the rotted sections on my car. I was in good with the body shop guys I worked with and one of the old timers helped remove the dings and fill the holes from the valiant trim. They came out perfect!

Before... During... After!

2003- Things are starting to get interesting. With the floors and fenders done I started on the 1/4 panels. I got a set of replacement panels and just started in on them. The tear down was interesting. Again, the previous owner in his attempt to get the car to pass state inspection "repaired" the rear 1/4 panel rust in a very unique way. You know that expanding foam that you use to seal gaps in your house, its used as insulation. He sprayed it into the trunk extensions and then fiberglassed over it.

The inner fenders as well as the trunk extensions needed some new metal too. As you can see I dd not have too much to work with, but I used the fender lips from the 1982 wagon as replacement parts for the inner fenders and the trunk extensions were easy to make. I was getting pretty good with my new welder and things went together well.

New Metal bondo LR done
Foam? Why? rust B gone needs finish work

I also purchased a Kelsey-Kayes 4 piston caliper front disc brake setup for the car. I rebuilt the calipers, painted the steering knuckles, upper control arms and dust shields and installed new ball joints. The K frame got painted too as well as all the front suspension components.
steering knuckle

The rear frame ends were replaced and welded up as well as some areas in the trunk. The entire front end was rebuilt with new polygraphite bushings and assembled. The new brakes were installed up front and the 9 inch drums in the back were replaced with 10 inch units. New shackles were installed and the rear springs re-attached. The car was back on all fours again!

The steering box was swapped from power to a manual unit, New brake lines were run to the new dual master cylinder and bleed. The engine and transmission was re-installed and a 4 bbl Thermoquad carburetor was installed. An exhaust system was cobbled together and the car was driven around the block. I'm finally getting somewhere with this car!

Fast forward to 2007. Life threw me a curve ball so the car was put on the back burner for awhile. After the dust settled things were pretty good. I had a new job doing what I liked. I was now married to a wonderful person and the Barracuda has a garage to call home.

New trans cooler lined were installed, a pair of Mickey Thompson valve covers were re-finished and installed as well as a new steering wheel that I re-furbished. I also installed a front anti-sway bar and rebuild the carb. Many small items were done this year to get the car road ready.

New Home M/T New Wheel

The car was registered and insured. Many test drives around the block were done to build the trust up a bit. I even drove the car to its first cruise night! That was a cool feeling, but not as good as finally making good on an old promise. I told my two daughters that "When I get the Barracuda on the road, we can go for a ride in it and get some ice cream". That's one big thing I finally crossed of the list!

Cruise to the Green

February 2009

Another year has passed and so much more has been done. New BF Goodrich TA Radials were mounted on some aluminum slot rims and the car was prepped and all systems checked for the trip to the All Chrysler Nationals in Carlisle PA. last July. It was a long rough ride mostly due to the route I took. The car ran great! A little on the hot side, but ok. What a joy it was pulling into the parking lot at gate 3 to register and to finally pull onto the show field. A dream come true!

I had painted the car all in gray primer and the hood was flat black and didn't look half bad. A real fun weekend of driving around and hanging with old friends and making some new ones too. The ride home was a little tense. Halfway through New York the transmission started slipping. I stopped and toped it off, but not more that 100 miles later it was slipping again. So I'm thinking there is no way we lost that much fluid that fast and the tranny was going south fast. In 2nd gear it hooked up so I drove most of the way back in 2nd gear.

Fortunately it was after the sun went down and things were cooling down. no overheating and I still could keep up with traffic at 65 mph. Soon, it was slipping in 2nd gear too. OK, I'm thinking, 1) the tranny is shot and 2) I'm close to home now and within my towing mileage. So I stopped and checked the fluid level for ha ha's, LOW! It wasn't the tranny losing its clutches, it was leaking. I bought 3 qts of fluid, poured them in, dropped it in "Drive" and off we went! We got home with no other issues and no tow bill.

Mopars at the Mexican Restaurant Barracudas in the rear view At Carlisle, Finally!

Later in August I found that by gas tank had developed a leak, so that pretty much ended my cruising for the year. But now It has a new gas tank, I replaced the cracked engine damper, fixed a few other oil leaks and have rebuilt the spare transmission I have. All I need to do is swap the tranny and I'm ready for the return trip to Carlisle this year.

There is so much still to do on the car, but being able to get in, turn the key and go for a drive is a great feeling. Even if it is in primer.

June 2009

Well a few months have gone by and a lot of work completed too. The transmission I rebuilt was installed along with some new U-joints. My 1st transmission rebuild and it went very well. I found a pair of good front door panels and sill trim for the car. I also had a spare set of interior metal trim that I cleaned up, primed and painted as well as polishing the A pillar trim. Its all glossy now and looking good. I polished some interior trim, cleaned the dome lenses and installed some newer bumpers that were 100% better than the rusted ones I had. Oh, my wife loves me. She remembered last years trip to carlisle being loud and hot due to the only thing on the floor being a cheap set of floor mats.

dynamat front carpet front carpet

She said that if I wanted her to go again, I would have to put a carpet in. Well, not wanting to upset her, I put in a carpet! I used Dynamat Extreme on the floor first for some added noise dampening, then laid down the ACC carpet. It was a challenge having a console car, making all those cuts, but it looks good. Now at this point, the cargo area is looking pretty shabby. Did I tell you how much my wife loves me? She said I should get new cargo area carpet so it doesn't look so bad with the new front carpet. Well I love my wife and heeded her good taste and installed that too.

cargo before faded carpet
After after

So other than a new headliner, seats and dash re chrome the interior is done. I did a little detailing in the engine bay too. Painted the water pump and front of the engine. I detailed some small parts and made an air cleaner from a stock part. I even painted the brake master cyl. I had the original radiator from my fathers 66 Barracuda re-cored. It is the larger AC radiator and it now keeps the engine cool. Going even further, I added a fluid cooler for the transmission. Hopefully this will help with keeping the transmission temperatures down and extend its service life.

engine before engine engine

The rear springs need to be replaced to level out the rear end then I really need to focus on finishing the bodywork. I have a few dented areas and a mildly rusted and tweaked trunk lid. I found a good straight trunk lid with some rust but the rust has been repaired and its almost ready to be put on the car. Ill be focusing on the exterior from this point on, moving closer and closer to a paint job. I may start picking up weather stripping and seals along with tail light bezels and a new outside mirror and just put them on a shelf, waiting for the day I get to re-assemble the car when it comes home from the paint shop. A few more years to go, but I'm getting there.

Side Stripes

I got a crazy idea about a month or so before Carlisle. Side Stripes! I always wanted a Formula S stripe on my car, but I like the blacked out hood too. So, I taped off the side of the car in the 66 Formula S style and painted the same color as the hood as a test. Well, It looks great so I did the passenger side too. NOW, I'm ready for Carlisle!

Aug 2009

Another trip to Carlisle has come and gone and it was a good time as usual. The car ran pretty well the whole trip, but I did have some pinging uphills under load, but backing some advance out of the timing helped that when I got home. Had a flooding problem on Friday morning.The battery was getting weak and decided to die at that time too. Had to jump start the car and linp into town to Auto Zone for a new battery and a set of spark plugs. Ohh, and the starter started to act up. It turned slower than I'd like and sounded like a coffee grinder. We made it home with no issues and averaged 18 mpg again this year and the ride with the helper springs and carpet made for a nice ride.

June 2010

Where to start. Well I found out that after the long and hot ride to Carlisle last year that I warped my Thermoquads center section. The car was still running too hot in slow traffic and I boiled over at a fall car show at home (talk about embarrasing). The front torsion bars were weak as well as the rear leaf springs. They sagged even more over the winter and I was still getting a vibration through the body at highway speeds.

This is the part where my wife tells me she loves me and to get what I need. Have I mentioned yet that I love this woman! I spent the Winter and Spring acquiring the parts I needed and a few I just wanted.

First up, Spinner caps for the wheels and a flip top gas cap. The gas cap is from a 1967 Barracuda and uses an adapter to mount it.
Spinners spinners
flip top flip top

Next, I purchased a new Edelbrock carb and all the necessary parts to install it. The engine runs smoother now and feels eaiser to drive. I may need to change the needles and jets for metter mileage, but we'll see how we do this year.

Then, new 1" torsion bars from Just Suspension and 1" over stock rear springs from ESPO were installed. Talk about a ride quality difference! WOW! All the drivetrain vibrations are gone and it goes down the road so smooth.

On to to the cooling system. I flushed the system to make sure there was nothing hanging around inside, swapped the 195 degree t-stat for a 180 degree unit and installed a factory fan shroud. That should solve that problem!

Before... ..AFTER!!

And then I replaced my ordinary dash bulbs with LED bulbs for improved visibility. I suggest this upgrade for anyone who drives their car at night.

All in all the car is at its mechanical best and performing better thar ever. I need to balance the front wheels, a few systems checks and its all systems go for Carlisle 2010!

September 2010: Iv'e been looking for a suitable hood alteration for the Barracuda and all I could come up with was the usual bolt on hood scoops. They look good but don't compliment the look of the car. The Dual Snorkel or the Max Wedge wasen't going to cut it. The Rally hood from the 70 to 74 'Cuda's would look great on the car. Well, Boom!

Rally Hood 1 Rally Hood 2

2011: The aluminum slot rims never really would ballance correctly so I found a set of SBP 14" Mopar Rally rims with the centers. Took some time to clean them up and put a new coat of paint on them.

I switched back to a Thermoquad carb from the Edelbrock. It didn't run well, sucked too much gas and I couldn't tune it to run well. I think it was too much carb for the engine.

New Rims 1 New Rims 2

2013: The car is running well enough but the carburetor just needs too much tinkering with. The Mopar Electronic Ignition works well enough and needs no constant tuning. I need the same from my fuel induction.

Throttle Body Fuel Injection with computer controlled ignition. That should do the trick!