'Cuda Memory Bank

lack Friday has come and gone, the turkey sandwiches are being slathered in mayonaisse, gridiron games have been won and lost, the dog has taken the leg bone stolen from the leftover plate and buried it in the backyard. I’m walking down the street thankful for a little sunshine to warm my bones, and thankful to still have my head turned by the sight of a baby blue ’66 ‘Cuda parked in the shade.

She was sweet, in the old ladyish way an early Barracuda can be. Her blue was faded and set off by the ghost of a dual, navy blue, pinstripe running the beltline; fainter by the door handles. Despite having a V-8, 13” rims and white walls barely concealed the 10” drum brakes underneath. (These oddball rims continued on from 1964 until at least 1968––as far as I know.) Dressing out those tiny rims were my favorite haubcaps that look far more like flying saucers than any sort of  mag wheel of the time period. Throw in the console and the 3-spoke steering wheel and you almost have a Formula S on your hands…snazzy. The best part was the cardboard sign in the back that read, “out of town dorks, need cash to get home”.

Such a funny little car. A total throwback with its magnificent fastback, fishbowl, back glass––and a glimpse toward the future with its camping, and cargo ready fold down seats and trunk partition. The sexier Mustang probably outsold this car 10 to 1 back in the day, but on San Francisco Bay Area streets the suvival rate seems to be pretty close to 1 to 1––45 years later. Perhaps it is testimony to how robustly these cars were built…or maybe it speaks to how well loved these little ugly ducklings were, and still are.

Every time I spot one, I tell myself I will one day own one. A snappy little 318 or 360 under the hood, some nice brakes and a good suspension all spiffed up and adjusted correctly. Why not? It is certainly plausible. Easy to maintain and relatively easy to park, nimble, fun, nerdish, cheap to register and insure…maybe not now. Nono, the not so distant cousin, is still managing; and just looking at her reminds me that she makes a mighty fine kit-bash for a ‘Cuda. ‘63 and ’64 Dart front ends look great on early Barracudas….just ask Doug Dutra.