“I’ve been a Mopar-head my whole life,” Dennis Jackson told me, “but I’ve had to wait to get a classic car.”
The wait was worth it when earlier this year Dennis became the proud owner of this stunning 1967 Plymouth Barracuda Formula S, an original, and rare, 383 / 4-speed model.
Dennis’ Mopar-headedness did start early. His first car was a Slant Six powered 1972 Duster, or “Ruster” as he called it. Work and family responsibilities kept him away from the hot rod scene for a few years, but he never lost the calling.
In June he answered the call.
“I had been looking for what seems like years,” Dennis said. “It happened to pop up on Craigslist at a dealer – about 30 minutes from my house and 10 minutes from where I work. I almost feel like the car was meant for me.”
Dennis purchased his Fish from Norm VerHage at the VerHage Motors Limited dealership in Holland, Michigan. Turns out Norm is a pretty good guy to buy a vintage Barracuda from. He is the Technical Director of the Barracuda/Cuda Owners Club (on the web at pbcoc.com) and has an extensive collection of A-body Mopars.
Dennis’ Barracuda was equipped with a 383 from the factory, which was an option only on the Formula S models that year. The 383 is largely stock, including the heads and intake manifold, although the engine block has been replaced with a 1970s casting. There’s a Carter AVS 4-barrel sitting on top. It still has the factory exhaust manifolds, but they exit out through upgraded dual exhausts. In 1967, Plymouth rated the engine at 280 horsepower with 400 ft-lbs of torque.
There’s a A-833 4-speed transmission sitting behind the big block, and Dennis gets to pick his gears using the Hurst shifter Norm VerHage installed as an upgrade to the factory setup. The 4-speed is mated to a Sure-Grip differential with 3.23 gears.
The suspension – torsion bars in the front and leaf springs in the rear – has been refurbished, but maintains the stock components. Dennis is considering some suspension upgrades for a project this winter.
Both the brakes (front disk, rear drum) and the steering are manual and Dennis likes them the way they are. “I don’t know that I will upgrade,” he told me. “It stops just fine. I don’t have an issue with the way the car handles and it’s enjoyable to drive.”
The Barracuda looks great with the Cragar S/S wheels against the bright blue paint and white stripe. Dennis likes the Cragars, but he also likes the look of the 1970s Chrysler Rallye wheels and is thinking about getting a set. He might even keep sets of both wheels and swap them out whenever he wants.
The white factory interior has been refurbished and looks great, with a front bench seat and fold down rear seats. Dennis has found that bench seat / 4-speed combination stirs up some passion on the Internet.
“I put that out there that I was thinking about swapping it for buckets and got a lot of comments saying ‘No it’s got to be a bench! If it’s a four speed it’s got to be a bench!’” Dennis is still thinking about replacing it with bucket seats, but don’t tell anyone on the Internet.
The fold down rear seat seems like it might be useful, except… “It’s a wacky design,” Dennis said, “because the original intent was to get the utility of 7′ of flat surface, but the trunk opening is so small I don’t know how you’d put it to any use except skis.”
The Barracuda does not have air conditioning. Dennis is thinking about adding it because he says the Michigan summers are getting “unbearable”. But he’s not fully talked himself into that yet, because he said, “I don’t know that I want to crowd the engine compartment with all that stuff that wasn’t there when it was made.”
The Formula S is Dennis’ first Barracuda, and about a month later, he got his second – a donor car he also found on Craigslist. That second Barracuda was in pretty rough shape, but Dennis thought it could be a gold mine of spare parts so he snatched it up.
He spent about a month unbolting just about every part that can be unbolted. He’s keeping the parts he knows he’ll be able to use on his Barracuda, and is selling the rest of them. “Parts have gone all over the country to help other guys finish their cars,” he said, “so that’s been kind of cool.”
Dennis donated almost all of the remaining shell of the donor car to a hot rodder who lives nearby who’s going to turn it into a drag car. “My motivation,” he said, “was that the car would hopefully get to start another life as a beast instead of me cutting up the shell for a few more bucks and it ending up in the crusher.”
One part of donor Barracuda body Dennis kept was the front end, which he removed and turned into the exceptionally cool wall hanging shown below.
I suspected that a 1967 A-body with a healthy 383 engine was a pretty lively car. Dennis said it was. “It’s fast enough for me,” he said. “It’s a bunch of fun to drive.” And he drives it a lot, frequently taking it to and from work.
“I waited a long time to get classic Mopar,” Dennis said. “I’m thrilled to death. I can’t wait to get out into the barn every morning, even if I’m not going to drive it.”
It’s been everything a Mopar-head could ask for.
Photos courtesy of Dennis Jackson
Follow Dennis on Instagram via ‘ooooo_barracuda‘
Click here to see more photos of his Plymouth