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> 1969 Plymouth Barracuda - Family Heirloom
post Aug 1 2010, 12:44 PM
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Doug Sloan's '69 Plymouth Barracuda Has Been In The Family Its Entire Life
From the February, 2010 issue of Popular Hot Rodding
By Cole Quinnell
Photography by Robert McGaffin

Some families pass jewels and other riches onto future generations. Others deed houses and transfer wisdom. For Doug Sloan, it was grandpa's '69 Plymouth Barracuda that would be passed through the generations into his hands. And in doing so, the car gave the Sloan family a project to work on together and remember grandpa by.
We can only imagine the scene at the Plymouth dealership in Riverside, California, in 1969. It was probably littered with A-, B-, and E-Body cars with everything from slant sixes to mighty Hemis. Among the new Detroit iron on the lot was this 340 Formula S, four-speed Barracuda. It was the kind of car that muscle car guys drool over today: manual steering, manual brakes, minimal options-just motor, a manual trans, and diminutive weight. This was the last year that the svelte Barracuda would be built on the A-Body platform, moving up to the E-Body in the next model year. This particular Barracuda was unaware that it was about to be adopted into a Mopar-loving family. That's when Doug's grandpa, Luis, scooped up the car and started using it as a daily driver. Over the next 13 years, it was fed and cared for along with Luis' other two Barracudas.

Fate usually sneaks up on us. A simple problem sidelines us, and busy lives keep us from attending to a problem and moving on. The same is true for this car and, in 1982, a shift linkage mishap left the car parked. With other cars in the stable, the shift linkage problem went undiagnosed, and the slow decline of the muscle car began. The stories always start the same: It ran when I parked it. But left alone, cars always decline in condition.

Luis died in 1991, and his collection of Barracudas was distributed to his three sons. The car was moved, but the gradual decay of the Barracuda continued until 2003. That's the year that Doug inked a deal with his dad. Doug would take the car and get the chance to restore it, as long as he didn't cut it up. And his dad could borrow the keys whenever he wanted.

Simplicity is the key for the engine compartment of this Barracuda. The dual-stage black paint covers every inch of sheetmetal, while 394 inches of Chrysler small-block is anything but subtle. Manual steering was retained so the only engine-driven accessory is an alternator.

With a modest budget, Doug dove into the project. His plan was to just freshen up the engine and transmission, and put the car back on the road. How many times have we heard that? One thing always leads to another, and the project snowballs. As if temptation can't manifest in one's head well enough, Doug's brother Bryan started whispering evil ideas in his ear. Build it better. Change this. Upgrade that. Before long, an engine rebuild grew into the construction of a stroked small-block. Then the rest of the drivetrain would need to come up to par to accommodate the 500-plus horsepower engine. The plans to simply convert the car back into a driver were retired, and the two set off on a complete rebuild of the car.

The car was stripped, literally. Strip Clean in Santa Ana, California, dipped the car once every nut and bolt was removed. The car then spent the next two years in paint jail. Doug says that in the end, the paint turned out well. While it was there, Doug and Bryan had plenty of time to clean, paint, repair, and replace everything that would attach to the PPG dual-stage black painted body. In just six months after springing the car from the spray booth, Doug and Bryan assembled the car. Doug says they spent countless hours painstakingly assembling the car so it would never need to come apart to this extent again.

The engine was built by Sloan Racing. The numbers-matching 340 was bored and a 3.79-inch Callies crank pumped up the displacement to 394 ci. That's a nice heritage number for a Hemi, but it's a fantastic number for a little LA-series engine. Dougans did all of the machine work before 11:1 CP pistons on Eagles H-beam rods were slid into the bores and torqued onto the crank.

The interior is a mix of original, restoration, and race-ready components. The factory bucket seats received new skins, the factory dash was cleaned and touched up, Auto Meter gauges keep track of the engine, and a Precision Performance shifter commands the 904 trans.

Even with 13 years of daily driver service, the Barracuda accumulated only 33,000 miles. That's one reason that many of the original pieces of the car could be reused with a little bit of elbow grease to make them look new again. Most of the trips the car makes these days are down the quarter-mile and to car shows.

Edelbrock Performer RPM cylinder heads were ported by Brian Haflinger at IMM Engines, and were then fitted with Manley SS severe duty valves and COMP Cams beehive valvesprings. A COMP solid, flat-tappet cam with 260 degrees of duration and .586-inch lift tips the Pro Magnum roller rockers. The simple but very functional combination of a Holley 750-cfm carb and Edelbrock Super Victor intake feed the hungry beast.

The original four-speed manual transmission was put on a shelf. Instead, a competition-ready 904 was built by Pro Trans, complete with a low gearset to improve launches. A relatively mild 10-inch torque converter with a stall speed of 3,500 rpm was selected, and a Precision Performance Products shifter keeps Doug in total control of the tranny.

The interior found another Sloan at work. Mom went to work installing new repop seat covers and detailing all of the original dash trim. When the buildup path for the car departed from driver to performance, the interior required some upgrades. A rollbar makes the car legal for dragstrip passes just shy of the 9.90 mark. It also creates a proper place to attach the Crow Enterprises safety harnesses. The factory gauges still reside in the dash, but are obscured by an Auto Meter Pro Comp playback tachometer. A pair of matching gauges mounted underdash keep tabs on the small-block's water temperature and oil pressure. Wear marks on the rollcage downbar testify to the use this car gets now. When Doug's not collecting trophies at car shows, the A-Body can be found at the dragstrip, clicking off 10.60s at 124 mph.

The rear suspension is a departure from a typical Mopar buildup. Instead of a thick pack for the rear leaf springs, Doug used split monoleaf springs. CalTracs traction bars eliminate spring wrap and plant the tires, while Rancho RS9000 adjustable shocks dampen up and down motion. Never heard of these shocks? You're probably not alone. These are popular for off-road vehicles, featuring nine settings of shock valving that you can select by twisting a knob. The e.t.'s that Doug turns on a small tire are testament that these shocks certainly aren't hurting the car's launch.

At the front, Doug combined tried-and-true Mopar components with some new technology. To gain disc brakes, '73 A-Body spindles were mounted to the car. This also provides a larger bolt pattern at the wheels. But rather than use factory rotors and calipers, a lightweight Wilwood kit was installed for high-performance use. He then added Firm Feel upper control arms. These A-arms are tubular in construction for higher strength and rigidity, and they accept the '73 spindles. Mopar drag torsion bars are used to spring the front while QA1 adjustable shocks dampen the movement. Between the QA1s up front and the RS9000s in back, Doug can fine tune the reaction of the suspension to accommodate track conditions, and also make a quick change from dragstrip tune to street tune.

The rear axle is the original Chrysler 83/4 housing, stuffed with a 4.30 gear and a Richmond spool. The original-design drum brakes were also left out back, and were balanced to work with disc brakes up front.

As is the case with nearly every project car, the cost ended up being significantly more than what was originally budgeted. Doug estimates that the total makeover of grandpa's Barracuda cost five to six times more than he originally had in mind. The three-year project brought Doug's parents and brother into the effort, giving them lots of quality family time that adult families rarely get. Doug says that the Barracuda wouldn't be what it is today without Bryan's knowledge of drivetrain combinations. With his help, the car just plain works on the dragstrip. We're sure it's far from Doug's young mind at this point, but we have to wonder who the car will be passed onto next.

A pair of '73 spindles were swapped onto the car to gain disc brakes and the later, large bolt pattern. Wilwood disc brakes provide stopping power up front, while the factory drums do duty out back. The front suspension also uses Firm Feel upper control arms that offer positive caster for improved stability.

The rear suspension is a little bit different than your standard Chrysler A-Body. Doug uses a combination of Calvert split mono-leaf springs, CalTracs traction bars, and Rancho RS9000 adjustable shocks. These shocks were designed for 4x4s, but offer adjustable valving to help Doug dial in his launch.

Doug Sloan • Corona, CA
Total cost to build: $70,000

Type: Chrysler 394, LA Series small-block
Block: Chrysler, bored to 4.070 inches
Oiling: Stephs
Rotating assembly: Callies 3.790-inch crank and Eagles H-beam steel rods; forged 11:1 CP pistons
Cylinder heads: Ported Edelbrock Performer RPM aluminum castings with Manley SS severe duty valves
Camshaft: COMP 260-at-.050 solid, flat-tappet roller, .586-inch lift
Valvetrain: COMP Pro Magnum roller rockers; COMP beehive valvesprings, Manton pushrods
Induction: Edelbrock Super Victor manifold, PC-built Holley 750-cfm carburetor
Exhaust: TTI headers
Power adder: n/a
Fuel system: electric fuel pump, regulator mounted at the carb
Ignition: MSD Digital 6 ignition system
Cooling: Howe radiator, Meizere electric pump, electric fan
Output: estimated 560 hp
Built by: Sloan Racing; machine work by Dougans


Transmission: Chrysler 904 built by Pro Trans, 10-inch Turbo Action 3,500-rpm torque converter and Precision Performance Products shifter
Rear axle: Chrysler 9 3/4 with 4.30:1 gears, Richmond Spool

Front suspension:Firm Feel upper tubular control arms, Mopar drag torsion bars, QA1 adjustable shock absorbers, '73 Chrysler spindles
Rear suspension: Calvert split monoleaf springs, CalTracs traction bars, RS9000 adjustable shock absorbers
Brakes: Wilwood front disc brakes and factory Chrysler rear drum brakes

Wheels: Weld Racing 15x3.5, front; 15x8, rear
Tires: Mickey Thompson 26x7.5x15, front; Mickey Thompson P275/60R15 ET Street Radial, rear

Click The Thumbnails Shown Above For Hi Res Image Gallery @ popularhotrodding.com

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