Due to its success, the Plymouth Barracuda was not drastically changed until 1970. A vertical-bar grille appeared for 1968, a checkered grille and redesigned taillights in 1969.
Federal smog regulations were now in place, and Plymouth was altering its engines to meet the emissions mandates. For 1968, the 273 was replaced as Barracuda's base V-8 by the "detoxed" 318.
A small-block 340 V-8, created by virtue of a bore increase to the 318, became an option. This was good for 275 horsepower with its four-barrel carburetor and 10.5:1 compression. The big-block 383 returned, now with 300 horsepower.
Plymouth also issued a limited number of Hemi-powered Barracudas for quarter-mile action, mostly for the factory team of Ronnie Sox and Buddy Martin. Like other Plymouth "drag specials" of the early to mid-1960s, these Hemis were lightened considerably, possessing only the barest of necessities to be street-legal.
In 1969, the third and final year for this body style, a new performance option was introduced, appropriately dubbed the 'Cuda. At first, it came only with the 275-horsepower 340 or an upgraded 383 with 330 horses. Later came a whopping 440 engine, rated at 375 horsepower.
Information on the existence of Hemi-engined 'Cudas in 1969 is sketchy, with conflicting information on how many, if any, were built.
However, the Barracudas most people bought were powered not by Hemis or 383s or 440s but rather 273s, 318s, and 340s. The best ones had four-speeds and the tight Formula S suspension and the most flexible back axle ratio-3.23:1, not one of the stump-pulling lower ratios.
With this setup, the typical Plymouth Barracuda was as good or better off the line than a Triumph TR4 or an Austin-Healey and could equal either one of them around a hairpin without embarrassment.
The 'Cuda basically understeered but could be made to oversteer with a judicious poke at the throttle, and it would drift around a turn in the classic sports car fashion with as much grace as an English import.
The stiff suspension "did tend to show its teeth on poor surfaces," one road tester admitted, "but it's something we would be loathe to pass up if we were buying a Barracuda, because we feel its benefits far outweigh its drawbacks." One of its benefits was embarrassing sports cars.
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