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let a tow truck come and take my first Mopar away after the insurance company totaled it. It was a classic case of naiveté on my part. The Dart was hit smartly on the left front fender and after a little work with a roadside 2x4 I was on my way. The car still drove true and we made it back to San Francisco from Reno that day.
The next morning I made my inspection. The fender was pretty crushed, the headlight bucket and bezel were ruined and the grille needed some work. I called around about the fender and nobody had one. The insurance adjuster came and said it would be nearly impossible to find a new fender for a 1969 Dart GT. Of course, I had no idea about interchangeability or any of that useful nonsense so I believed the guy. He called the tow truck, I signed a paper, he, or his friend got a nice ’69 Dart GT convertible (273ci 2bbl, 904 car), and I got something like $3500…back in 1991.
The minute I signed that paper and watched the GT go away I knew I had screwed up. I felt like I’d never own another one and to this day that feeling has been correct. But, I did have some cash and I started daydreaming about what car would be next. My friends were all pretty much in the GM camp but I had fallen in love with the Dart and I knew I had to go Mopar. Armed with a copy of Anthony Young’s Mighty Mopars I fell into some serious dream shopping.
I really loved the second generation Charger but so did everybody and prices were out of my reach. R/Ts, Super Bees, Road Runners and Challengers all held equal sway over me and I imagined how fun it would be to have one of these ridiculous gas-guzzling burnout mobiles. I’d get the paper every day and check the classifieds, and every Wednesday I’d grab an “Advertiser” (this was pre-Craig’s List). I made some calls and even looked at a batty black ’73 Charger…then the right ad came along; it read, 1968 Super Bee, $3500. I called and I was on my way.
I drove out to Crockett, Calif., with my friend Steve to check out this Bee. We drove through the tiny industrial town and immediately fell in love with its nostalgic feel and waterfront location. We climbed into a respectable middle class neighborhood, turned a corner and there was the Bee, hulking under a tree in faded original dark green paint.
Parked right behind it, looking tantalizingly fresh, was a 1968 Barracuda notchback with a For Sale sign in the window. Of all the cars I was conjuring the, one I knew next to nothing about, and cared even less about, was the second generation Barracuda.
Still focused on the Bee, I spent a good half hour looking it over and going around the block. The car was fast and solid but it felt really big to me. I liked the hood and the stripe but the more I thought about driving around on a daily basis with so much plumage the less I liked it. The bench seat and column shift weren’t doing it either, and the interior and dash looked and felt cheap.
The gentleman selling the car could see my uncertainty and suggested I look at the little Barracuda. Steve seemed into the car so I gave it a look. The bright green paint was shiny and contrasted nicely against the white vinyl top and white interior. This car was super clean, cleaner than anything I had ever dreamed of owning. The front buckets had been re-done with factory correct upholstery, the headliner was perfect, the carpet was new, the console and dash were shiny and clean, the gauges worked, the ashtrays had never even seen a cigarette….but most of all, the interior was cool, way cooler than the Bee. Sure the ‘Cuda only had a 318 but I could hop that up, right?