My 1970 Plymouth Barracuda - Journal
I've set this page up more or less in a "journal" format, with an entry date followed
by some words, pics, etc. This is partly because
that will allow me to just keep adding stuff to it as I go along which
will make maintaining it easy, and partly to show all the trials and
tribulations I run into along the way.
Here is a sound clip in MP3 format taken
from a camcorder about 15 feet to the rear/side of the car. Its about
40 seconds long, 64kbps, with a short rev thrown in near the end. Its
not the greatest quality (actually it makes the car sound like a lawnmower!),
but it will have to do for now.
This is my 1970 Plymouth Barracuda Gran Coupe, purchased at the All Chrysler Nationals in Carlisle, PA
(Chryslers at Carlisle) July, 2001. It doesn't exactly have the sophistication of a late model
vehicle, but that's not really the point, now is it? Following are some specs on the car (as purchased; If you are interested in the car's current state of tune,
please click here.)
- Engine - 440ci V8
- bored 30 over & balanced
- HP heads
- HEMI grind cam
- Edelbrock Torker intake
- Holley 750 double pumper
- Flex fan
- HD radiator
- Mopar Performance ignition
- Mopar Performance valve covers
- Moroso 7 quart oil pan
- Milodon windage tray
- 2.5" true duals with an H pipe and turbo mufflers
- Tranny - 727 Torqueflite
- shift kit
- 2200 stall converter
- tranny cooler
- B&M Hammer shifter
- Rear end - 8.75"
- super comp asymetrical leaf springs
- rebuilt front suspension & brakes
- front and rear anti-sway bars
- Dunlop G/T Qualifier tires (215/70R14s front, 245/60R14s rear)
- Body & Interior
- Aspen metallic blue (has a few chips, dents, etc. but overall fairly good)
- Rallye hood
- new trunk pan and rear fenders
- '72-74 'cuda grille
- bucket seats, and not much else (no carpet, headliner, etc.)
I have wanted a musclecar era Mopar for some time, and have always liked
the E bodies in particular. At the 2001 ACN @ Carlisle, I had the opportunity
to plunge myself deeper into debt, so I did exactly that.
I've driven many different types of cars and trucks, but this is my first
vehicle with a carb, and certainly the biggest motor I've ever used.
(Unless of course you count an Itasca motor home with a Chebby 454;
that vehicle was scary too, but for completely different reasons.)
I like to think I am fairly adept behind a wheel, but this is a whole
'nother beast altogether! The very first time I pulled out onto the
street in this thing, I gave it a bit too much gas. The first thought
that popped into my head was something along the lines of "so this
is what 'scary fast' feels like!" Right now, I'm just driving it
around like somebody's grandmother on their way to the grocery store.
I want to get a feel for the car and its traits before I even think about
gettin' on it. I plan to take it to the strip eventually to see
what it will do, but if this car is as quick as it feels, I'm
going to want to be absolutely comfortable in it first. I was driving
around a bit today, and while waiting for a light to change, thought I'd
let it wind out a bit in 1st. I didn't let it get anywhere near the redline,
but when I slapped the shifter forward into 2nd, I got a real solid
chirp out of the rears... This car is just begging for a no holds barred
launch. All in good time...
I plan to continue the restoration of the car where the previous owner left off (Hi, Courtney!)
and turn it into a really nice driver. A
re-paint will happen down the road, but probably not for quite a while; I also want to add a
rear wing and the hockey stick "440" decals. As far as the color goes, I'm still not
sure but I'm leaning towards Sublime. I may go a bit wider on the rear tires at
some point, or even to a set of 15" rims. I want to try and swap out the steering wheel
for one with a thicker grip, perhaps a Grant aftermarket. Of course, I also want to install
an interior, headliner, re-upholster the seats, the dash could use replacing, etc. I'd
like to install a CD/MP3 player but I'm going to wait to see until after the rest of the
interior is done. At the moment, you'd never be able to hear it anyway, so it won't get
installed unless the interior quiets things down a bit. (I may lay down some dynomat
or something under the carpet.)
Did my second fill up today so I had an opportunity to check the gas mileage.
Correcting for the odometer error, I got about 8.25mpg. This is mostly "city"
driving, but fairly tame driving for the most part. Yoiks!
(Some of you are probably trying to figure out why I'd even bother to
calculate the gas mileage for a muscle car at all. Hey, I like to know!)
Well, I got a taste of what its like to own one of these "old tech" cars
today. A couple of times, when it first started, it would quit right
away. I figured I'm probably doing something wrong with the startup and
didn't think too much about it, until after getting some dinner at Wendys
around 9:30, it wouldn't stay started, and finally didn't want to start,
and by that time the battery wasn't exactly giving its all either. So,
I walked a half a mile to Wal-Mart where I bought the biggest Everstart MAXX
battery I could find and a pair of 4 gauge jumper cables. Time for another
half mile walk, this time with a 40lb battery. (Note to anyone ever in this
situation: I discovered the easiest way to carry it is to lift it up onto your shoulders,
and just hang on to the handle with both hands, one on either side of your
head, and carry it sort've like a
backpack. You'll look like a fool, but you'll barely feel the weight.)
Anyway, I get back to the car, hook up the cables, and just as I'm about to
try turning it over, a Ram 250 diesel pulls alongside and out jumps a
fellow Mopar nut by the name of John, to see if I needed any help. Fortunately,
the car started right up. John suggested I look into a high torque/speed
starter; I think I may do that. We stood around talking Mopars for a
while, so I guess something good came out
of the whole situation. I'll tell ya, as I was walking to Wal-mart,
that Holley Pro-Jection EFI setup was starting to sound really good! I
may have to put some thought into that. Oh yeah, I forgot, I don't have any
Went to get the car inspected today... The tech gave me some helpful
advice regarding starting carbeurated vehicles; (i.e. don't touch the gas
if its warm!) Turns out I have been flooding the engine... I've had some
better luck starting the engine now. I've noticed that if I get on the
gas somewhat agressively, the car will stumble and want to die. I'm not
sure what to make of that. I went to Wendys again today with a buddy of
mine and without touching the gas, the car started right up. I let it
idle for a few minutes as we stood around talking, then headed for home.
I made it maybe a mile and it died on me! It didn't want to start,
started once then quit, then finally with the last trickle of juice
left in the battery, it caught and stayed running. Made it home OK
this time. I've noticed I've got a small gas leak under the carb,
maybe I've got a bad gasket or something; if I'm lucky maybe that will solve
all my problems. EFI is sounding better and better!
Well, I took the plunge! A Holley Commander 950 TBI system is on its way!
I was going to pay off a good chunk of the car fairly soon since the
interest rate is fairly high, but I figured it'd be better to string out the
payments a tad longer than originally intended and have a car I can be
happy with rather than getting it paid off real soon and not having
any cash left to make it reliable. As long as I was paying the shipping,
I also ordered up a Grant Classic 838 steering wheel. Its a little
bit narrower than the stocker which will hopefully make it a bit easier
to get out of the car, and most importantly it should have a much thicker
grip to give me some more confidence in the steering. Its definitely not
the fanciest wheel out there, but its a plain, simple wheel with a price
tag of only $25 instead of $250. It won't arrive for a day or two though
so I'll reserve my full judgement until I actually see the thing in
I'm well into the conversion now; so far the Holley system seems to be
a good one; I'm remaining optomistic. :-) One detail that I did not
anticipate, which was brought to light by a member of the Mopar Mailing List
was the fact that since my stock fuel tank is not baffled, I should be
running a surge tank to ensure the EFI system always has fuel. I did
some research on my own, and unfortunately, he was correct.
I considered many different possibilities (welding a sump to the stock
tank, replacing the stock tank with a fuel cell, welding up my own sump
tank, etc. What I decided on was mainly based on ease of installation,
reliability and "reverseability" should it not work and should I need to
try a different method.)
I am planning to use a 1 gallon "nitrous enrichment" fuel cell for the tank
and a Carter 120GPH
7-8psi "strip" mechanical fuel pump to feed the tank. I just sent a princely
sum to Jegs and Summit for the parts I will need to build the fuel system.
I originally was planning to use braided stainless lines all the way, but
that would have been obseenly expensive. (I have 4 runs, front to back)
So, I'm using braided stainless with AN fittings at the ends and aluminum
hard line in the middle. Using aluminum lines instead of stainless for
part of the run saved me about $100. Still, Summit must love me right now,
especially since I ordered the TBI system through them too. I guess I'll
finally get to try out that tubing bender... I've never bent my own hard
lines before; this could be interesting.
I have set up a separate page detailing the EFI conversion here. There's nothing there now except a bunch of
pics, but I'll add descriptions and text later.
The EFI conversion page wasn't incredibly useful, so I
went ahead and added descriptions, and I'll continue to include descriptions
as I progress.
During a delay in the EFI install, I upgraded my steering wheel.
I drove around for a couple of hours last week with my face buried in the laptop to tune some of the steady state stuff today; my friend Ed handled the driving duties, thanks, Ed! :-) When we got back, the car was definitely behaving better than when we left, it is working fairly well at cruise, but there are other things to tune such as transitional fueling, WOT, and transitional WOT fueling, etc. The driving around
did make me realize that tuning on the street was a bit of a compromise.
I found a local place with some experience tuning various EFI systems, so I
made an appointment (for 10/15) to put it on the dyno for a full-on tune. This
means I won't be able to make it out to the track this year, and it'll be
hard not having the full use of the car until then, but hopefully it will be
done right the first time. Plus, I'll have some dyno numbers too, and I
can at least estimate the ETs from that. :-) I'm planning to try to drive
the car some, just nice and easy like so I don't get out of the already tuned
portions of the fuel map, just to put some miles on the EFI system and maybe
shake out any bugs that may exist.
On October 15, 2001 I took the car in to Kennedy's Dynotune
to get the fuel dialed in. This was a success, although I was a bit dissapointed with the actual dyno
numbers. Still, the timing isn't being run by the EFI computer yet, and we were just doing a
nice safe steet tune. After having it dialed in on the dyno, I drove the car around for several
weeks. I am definitely going to have to do something about the fuel plumbing - the main feed
line to the Holley fuel pump has a tendancy to trap air and make the pump work real hard and
generally starve the car for fuel. It works OK as long as I don't let the surge tank get
empty. As I was driving the car one Sunday, the alternator bolt snapped off in the head and
gave me quite a scare util I figured out what the problem was! Unfortunately, I now have to
figure out how to get the bolt out of the head.
Well, that is going to turn out to be one expensive bolt! ;-)
As the car sat, and I figured out what I wanted to do, I started to think about aluminum
heads. Jokingly at first, ("Heh! Wouldn't THAT be quite the way to fix an alternator
bolt!") but the more I thought about it the more serious it became!
Once I had made the decision to go ahead, it kind've mushroomed. As long as I'm doing
the heads, I really should do headers, and I should replace that single plane intake
with a dual plane (the intake had several stripped threads, etc. anyway). And, since
I would probably need to go back on the dyno anyway, I might as well finish up the
EFI install by adding the spark control. So, as it sits right now, I am planning
on installing the Edelbrock aluminum heads, with Hughes aluminum adjustable rockers, Edelbrock Performer intake, and TTI 1 7/8" ceramic coated
headers. I figured now was a good time to swap out the stock starter for the MP lightweight
unit too. On the ignition side, I'm going with a Holley HP Annihilator with a Laser Shot Street
coil, activated by an MSD crank trigger and fed to the plugs via a remanufactured
late '70s lean burn distributor. I want to replace the plug wires with Magnecors also.
The tranny will get a reverse pattern manual valve body and a deeper pan.
I also have some other items like a tranny temp gauge and oil temp gauge, new tranny
mount and U-joints, a custom center console, etc. I'm getting tired just thinking
about it!!! Assuming it all goes off well though, it should be quite an improvement!
(Many thanks to Bob Tom for all his help and advice as I tried to figure out what
I wanted to do, and how to do it!)
Several minor upgrades and such have happened since the last update; I installed a
Go Wing, hockey stripes, custom center console, finally got some carpet in there, etc.
(See the separate "Projects" section in the bar to the left for details on those projects.)