Timing is everything. So is image. The Plymouth Barracuda suffered problems with both during it's 11 year model run from 1964-1974. Despite all that and more aptly, because of it, today, the Barracuda is one of the most soft after of the "classic" muscle/pony cars.
The image problem it had was that the original Barracuda (above) was not able to shake the image that it was nothing more than a fancy Valiant.
The Valiant was not only perceived as being an economy car but a fairly unhip one at that. Putting a sporty grill on the front, a fastback on the back and V-8 badges on the front fenders did little to convince buyers that, despite arguably the coolest name ever for a car, the Barracuda was little more than Granny's grocery getter in a leather jacket.
While still Valiant based, the 1967 redesign made for a very handsome automobile but this time timing was the culprit.
Big, bad General Motors entered the pony car fray in 1967 with not only the Chevrolet Camaro...
But the Pontiac Firebird.
Lastly but certainly not leastly, Ford had an updated Mustang out for 1967 as well. The pony car market, which didn't even exist four years prior, was suddenly very crowded. To to say nothing
about American Motor had to offer as well.
Given a choice between the four of these cars I wish I could say I'd choose Barracuda but the truth is, knowing myself, I'd probably spring for the Firebird.
The 1970-1974 vintage Barracuda, our subject is a 1971 model, while shedding any vestige of "Valiant", suffered again from timing issues. While these cars are subjectively the greatest of all the pony cars, and I'm not alone in the sentiment, by 1970, the muscle car/pony car party was beginning to wane and in more ways than one. What's more, the image of the new Barracuda was decidedly more masculine than before; that's not good. Just like in radio and television programming, you have to get the ladies in order to win. There weren't too many women interested in a two ton black top ripper like this delicious 340 powered 'Cuda and the men had more than their fair share of options to pick from. That all added up to very disappointing sales for Barracuda.
Yes, there was a lesser model available but it sold slowly because if a woman wanted something sporty, she no doubt wanted a Camaro, Firebird or Mustang. There was no foreign competitor back then and this is at least 15 years before BMW made an inroads into the mindset of image conscious buyers.
The only ones left at the party to oogle over the Barracuda were the guys who really, really liked the car regardless of image. Or timing. Those diehards, myself one of them, love the car despite the shockingly cheap interior and underwhelming driving dynamics. I'm still such a fan of these cars that when I'm asked to pick one car to have above all others this is the one I'd choose.
These cars now amongst the most sought after of all the muscle car era automobiles. Asking price on this very nice 1971 'Cuda a cool $55,000. And somehow, it seems like a bargain even at that price.