Bill Mayfield’s immaculate ‘65 Plymouth Barracuda hits the Garage Hot Rods target dead on.
Bill built the car himself, just the way he wanted it, in his garage, as time permitted. You can’t get more on target than that.
We talked with Bill at the Love Thy Neighbor Car Show in Grayson, Georgia. The Love Thy Neighbor Car Show is a fantastic event started three years ago by a small group of people in Grayson to help out fellow friends and neighbors in need.
Bill’s got a long history with first generation Barracudas, having owned a ‘64 model back in 1965. His love for the road eventually led him to motorcycles, but when he decided to stop riding bikes, he went looking for another Mopar in 2013.
“I went online to try to find another ‘64 or ‘65 and this one came up in Virginia,” BIll said. “I went up and looked at it and bought it.”
As purchased, the body and paint were in good shape – they’re about the only aspects of the car Bill hasn’t had to tweak – but just about everything else needed work.
With the body taking up one half of his two car garage, Bill pulled out the interior, engine, and transmission and went to work on them in the other half of the garage.
Everything got the once over from Bill. All the chrome trim on the body was re-chromed. The rear window and the windshield were pulled and the window gaskets replaced.
All the upholstery – all of it – was replaced. And Bill did it himself except for the headliner. You can see from the pictures it looks like it just came off a Plymouth showroom floor. Carpet, seats, dashboard and door panels are exactly like the factory made them in 1965. The only changes Bill made were to add a tachometer, custom steering wheel and shift knob, and two cup holders to the center console. The end result is gorgeous.
The chassis and suspension – independent torsion bar system up front, leaf springs in the back – were in good shape so Bill just replaced the stock 13” wheels with 14” Cragar SS mags, and rebuilt the four wheel drum brakes.
Walking around the car at the show, you can’t help but be drawn to the immaculate engine and engine compartment. It’s a thing of beauty – and is the aspect of the build Bill is most proud of.
He cleaned and detailed the engine and the engine bay to the tiniest details, including the chrome caps suggested by his wife. Bill felt the power steering pump took away from the look he wanted, so he converted the Barracuda to manual steering. As he explained, “The only thing I wanted in the engine compartment was the engine.”
That engine bay contains a 273 cubic inch small block. When Bill got the car it had the standard two barrel carburetor. Bill found and installed an original Plymouth “Commando” intake system, a four barrel carburetor and matching manifold, which upped the V8’s production to 235 hp and 280 ft-lb of torque. Those are pretty impressive numbers for 273 cubic inches, especially in 1965. Factory manifolds feed the straight through dual exhaust system. Power goes through a TorqueFlite 3-speed to a 7¼” rear end.
Interesting fact: the 14.4 square foot rear window on this Barracuda was the largest ever installed on a production car at that time. Another interesting fact: replacing the gasket around that window was an incredibly tedious job. Bill is glad that’s over with.
As you can imagine, a hot rod this well executed gets a lot of attention. It recently got the attention of one young woman – in her mid-20s Bill estimates – who wanted to know if it was built in France. Clearly millenials are not up to speed on early Detroit pony cars.
“The car gets a lot of compliments,” Bill told me. In fact, someone came up to Bill at the show in Grayson wanting to buy it. “That’s happened more than once,“ Bill said, “But it’s not for sale.”
With a car this clean and well built, it’s easy to see why.
Photos by GHR and courtesy of Bill Mayfield