During the ’60s, Plymouth had a bit of an inferiority complex when it came to pony cars. Although the Barracuda beat the Mustang to market in mid-1964, it was Ford that received the accolades and racked up the sales. The Barracuda enjoyed modest success, but styling that was noticeably derivative of the ho-hum Valiant sedan couldn’t challenge Ford. The Mustang had a huge presence on the street, offered three distinct body styles and was developing a solid racing reputation. Help for the Barracuda arrived in 1967 in the form of a redesign that gave it a sportier look and added convertible and hardtop coupe options to accompany the fastback. They also gave the new Barracuda extra firepowera 383 big-block engine option. Now all it needed was a few race wins.
Chrysler already had a proven drag racing program that was spearheaded by the most dominant engine in racingthe 426 Hemi. A number of enterprising racers had mated the lightweight Barracuda with the Hemi, but with factory special drag cars rolling out of Ford and GM, Plymouth knew it needed to factory-build Hemi Barracudas. A letter went out to dealers in early 1968, and option code BO29 was added to the Barracuda order sheet. That code got you a barebones Barracuda fastback stuffed with a race-spec Hemi and very little else. Gone were the heater, sound insulation and outside mirrors. The backseat was removed, and the front seats were replaced with those from a Dodge cargo van. You choose a four-speed or an automatic transmission that came with a special Hurst shifter and heavy-duty internals. Also included was a warning sticker that advised owners to run the Hemi Barracuda only in “supervised acceleration trials,” and that it was illegal to drive it on public streets. Not that anyone was likely to mistake the car’s intended use; it was referred to right on the order form as the Hemi Barracuda Super Stock. With some assembly help from Hurst, about 50 of these ferocious fish found their way to the public.
SPECIAL ORDERTO GO
Supercar Collectibles approaches diecast cars in much the way drag racers did full-scale cars back in the day: check out what the factories are offering, choose the ones with the most potential and then make some carefully selected improvements. Highway 61’s ’68 Barracuda is a perfect choice to receive this treatment. From full-on race replicas to a primer-paint stripper that replicates how the cars were delivered from Hurst, Supercar does several versions of the Hemi Barracuda. The most attractive versions are the “Super Street” Barracudascars refit by owners for limited street usewhich represent a number of Hemi Barracudas (real and clones) that can be seen at shows and events today.
Exterior. Aside from the hood and the slightly elevated rear stance, the Hemi looks pretty much like any other ’68 Barracuda. And given that the body is basically the same as Highway 61’s regular 1:18 Barracuda, the casting quality is up to that same standardwhich is to say, quite good. Character lines and body contours look very nice, and the panel gaps range from excellent (doors) to merely OK (trunk). The finish is smooth and blemish-free. The window trim is painted a brightly reflective silver so that it gives a pretty good representation of chrome. The door handles, bumpers and other trim are plastic but well molded and plated.