Meet the Slant-Six Barracuda convertible that wasn’t converted into a Hemicuda clone (yet).
Story and photos by Scotty Lachenauer
Fifteen-year-old Randy Kallensee couldn’t help but admire his brother’s new ride. The shiny black on black ‘72 340 ‘Cuda made a big impression on him the moment his older bro rumbled into the family driveway. Unfortunately, a year later, the poor E-body was dismembered in a pretty hairy accident. Not having the money to fix it, the car sat in a heap on the side of the family’s homestead.
Young Randy, knowing fully well he was going to get his own ‘Cuda sooner or later, stripped what he could salvage off the E-body, and squirreled it away before the carcass was carted off.
Not too long after that, Randy scored a ’73, a ‘Cuda of his own. He thought it was the car he was after, the car that he wanted to make his own personal hot cruiser. However, this amorous connection between owner and automobile didn’t last that long either, as Randy’s roving eyes spotted something else that stole his heart the minute he laid his peepers on it.
You see, Randy was at work one evening, making his rounds as an overnight delivery guy in the Jersey suburbs. On his way to a drop-off, he turned a corner… and there sitting in the dark of a driveway was the outline of an E-body. Not just any E-body. A convertible E-body. A plain-Jane Barracuda dressed in faded In-Violet paint, a ripped up white interior and sporting original issue turbine wheel covers. To top it off, the original six-banger was under the hood, still purring like the day it left the assembly line. Bingo…Randy was in love all over again.
Randy was lucky enough to spot a woman on the property and asked her about the faded purple Barracuda. Amazingly enough, she had just discussed with her husband the possibility of parting with the prized droptop. They just weren’t sure if they were going to keep it, as it had been handed down to them by the first owner–the woman’s mother-in-law.
Still ecstatic from his stroke of luck, Randy scribbled out his name and number on a piece of scrap paper and handed it to the lady, asking if they were to sell it, could he have first shot. The lady agreed, and with that he was back on his way to finish his route. It was the start of a gut wrenching waiting game for poor Randy. He passed the car several times over the next few weeks, paranoid at the thought that the convertible would slip through his hands; maybe to a collector. Or just some clown carrying a big wad of cash.
Well, lady luck still was on Randy’s side. A few weeks down the road he got the call he had waited for–the car was for sale. After a brief negotiation, the convertibles title was in his hands, and the Barracuda was safely on the flatbed. Randy could hardly believe he scored such a rare E-body–and so close to home, too. He just couldn’t wait to get it home to take a deeper look into what he had just bought.
The car came to Randy with just 50,000 original miles on the odometer. The original owner checked off very few options on the car when new, with just the high impact FC7 and power top on the list of the luxuries. Like stated, the Super 225 “leaning tower of power” Slant-Six was the power plant of choice for the sleek ragtop, and an interesting selection for such an aggressively styled Mopar.
Randy drove it for a few years the way it stood, mostly during the summer months. He didn’t mind the faded paint or the ripped up interior, as the car still turned heads wherever it went. But after seeing his brother-in-law take delivery on his newly restored ’68 Camaro, Randy got the bug to have the car returned to its original glory. He chose the same restoration company to oversee his project as his in-law. This decision would turn out to be not the wisest choice he’s ever made.
He handed over the Barracuda to the restoration company after he had stripped the car of all its parts figuring he would speed the process along. How wrong he was. After languishing in the shop for a few years, and seeing little or no progress, Randy pulled the car out and started looking for a more suitable restorer for the convertible. That led him to Joe Louis.
At a local car show, Randy ran into Joe, a local Mopar enthusiast and restoration specialist. They struck up a conversation about the horror story that was the first attempt to rejuvenate the Barracuda. The conversation continued, and Randy soon realized that Joe had the skills, knowledge, and passion to rebuild the E-body to its former glory. The car’s future was now in Joe’s hands.
Next, Randy had to make the decision on how he wanted to go about rebuilding the Barracuda. Over the years, family and friends had suggested that he should purchase a Hemi and clone the car. It’s a tempting thought, as it doesn’t take much to turn this base model Barracuda into a copy of the most valuable muscle car in the world. It was a concept that Randy threw around for some time in his head, looking at the pros and cons of clone versus original.
For our owner, the high impact paint and white interior amalgamation was already one of the most pleasing color combinations offered in 1970. Definitely a keeper in Randy’s eyes. The turbine wheel covers were in reasonably good shape, and looked pretty neat on the car, so he was keeping those too. And the non-rally dash and the crank windows were just a spartan touch that he didn’t mind at all.
The big decision was with the motor. The slant-six is revered in the industry as one of the most reliable and indestructible engines ever conceived–a pure stroke of genius from the engineers at Chrysler. Though not as potent as having two extra cylinders, the Super 225 was not anemic to say the least. Musclecar engine, probably not; reliable cruiser power producer–definitely. So when the hammer dropped on the first phase of the resto, Randy knew exactly what to do with the Barracuda. And that was to keep it completely stock.
Randy’s ride is one of 223 slant-six-powered Barracuda convertibles built that year. We don’t know how many were skinned with In-Violet FC7 paint, or how many had the white interior, but it’s safe to say few were ordered. It’s not a stretch to say that this could possibly be the only one left in existence–or at least restored to stock specs.
The car was delivered to Joe and immediately he tore into the E-body. Paint was stripped and the minimal body work commenced. Both rear quarters and the trunk pan were replaced. All the rest of the sheet metal was in good shape, with just one fender needing a patch panel. Not bad for a Jersey car. Joe laid out the mirror smooth FC7 skin on this Barracuda to perfection.
While this was going on, the numbers matching drivetrain was sorted out, and sent out for rebuilding. The slant-six was sent out to Jimmy’s Auto in Elizabeth, NJ, where the motor was rebuilt back to factory specs. Nothing was altered from original. The original 904 was also rebuilt, while the 7 ¼” rear, with only 50k on it, was checked out and just cleaned up.
The suspension was also rebuilt to stock specifications. Randy toyed with the idea of adding a little stopping power up front with a disc brake conversion, but balked at this notion at the last second. The original drums were rebuilt in all four corners.
A few issues popped up along the way, as Randy found out, some of the base model parts were hard to come by. The original exhaust was pulled off and discarded. Little did our owner know, but a replacement for the single 6-cylinder pipe set was hard to come by. Randy had to get a custom set up made by a company in Detroit.
And now for the badging. He found it almost impossible to find the one-year correct emblems for the base model Barracuda. After a long search, a set popped up. Problem solved. Bumpers were re-chromed by Tri City in Tennessee. Vans Auto in Wisconsin supplied fresh miscellaneous parts (chrome mirrors, sun visors, door handles, lock levers, window cranks, and antenna). Seat skins are from Legendary Interiors.
For rolling stock, the Barracuda cruises on its original steelies, sand blasted and painted up fresh. The wheel covers had some minor dings, which were worked out of the metal. After a good buffing, they looked like NOS pieces. The wheels are wrapped in 225/70/14 Cooper Cobra rubber.
Today, Randy drives the Barracuda whenever the Jersey weather cooperates. And he’s not afraid to give it a lashing here and there as he’s logged quite a few miles on it since finishing the restoration last year.
What he has here is a slice of Mopar we don’t get to see very often. The love of big power and speed has almost eradicated lighter duty cars such as these. It’s funny that the same hobby that embodies the love of classic Mopars, has helped almost eradicate cars of this kind. making six cylindered motivated rides as scarce as hen’s teeth. Good thing we have guys like Randy who can stand up to the enticement and keep it all real.