Vintage Car Life Review: 1967 Barracuda Comparison – The Tame 6 cyl. Hardtop and The Brisk V-8 Fastback

In 1967 a new Barracuda appeared, this time in three body styles; fastback, hardtop, and convertible. For its March issue, Car Life chose to test a fastback and a hardtop from opposite poles of the performance spectrum. A fairly normal practice in reviews of the time. It was an age where options could really alter a vehicle’s character. So why not try different samples? After all, the automotive public wished to know.

After a false start with its poor-selling 1st. gen, a new and more focused Barracuda arrived for another round in the Pony Car Wars. The three body styles were part of that new commitment, offering more options and configurations than any of its other competitors.

Making better use of corporate resources, 4 engines were now offered. The list included the basic 145 hp 6 cyl. 225 in., the 180 hp 2-barrel 273 in. V-8, and its 4-barrel 235 hp version, and the 280 hp 4-barrel 383 in. V-8 (The renowned 340 Commando would become available in 1968).

For CL’s test, the two samples included a hardtop coupe, with the modest 145 hp 6-cyl.; and a fastback with the 235hp 235 in. V-8 and “Formula S” performance package. The transmission on both was the TorqueFlite 3-speed, a favorite of reviewers, with CL joining in the praise. For those who wished, manuals were also available.

The $3222 hardtop came with air conditioning, AM radio, a vinyl top, and vinyl upholstery. Under testing, the 6-cyl. was a leisurely performer, tuned to low rpm freeway cruising. City driving was ‘mastered with ease,’ due to the gentle nature of the tame six. For a Pony Car, interior accommodations were good, although as always, rear-seat passengers rode in tight quarters. The trunk was deemed far superior to the Mustang, Cougar, or Camaro.

One area where the hardtop fell short was the suspension, which bottomed out even during mild activity. The car pitched and dived to the point of discomfort, a quality CL blamed on the hardtop’s lack of an antiroll bar, normally offered in the V-8 engine-equipped cars.

The 235 hp 273 in. V-8 fastback was a different story altogether. With increased compression, higher rpm capability, and a limited-slip differential (not available on the hardtop), the fastback’s drive train was ‘brisk and stimulating.’ The “Formula S” suspension package had much to do with that delivery; making use of stiffer ride rates, larger diameter torsion bars, and six-leaves semi-elliptic rear springs.

Regardless of its new options, the Barracuda’s renewed skin still failed in an age where youthful styling was key. While better looking than its previous generation, the car still shared too many hard points with Chrysler’s A-Body platform, betraying its Valiant underpinnings. When viewed side by side, the Barracuda looked the most conservative against the Mustang and GM’s F-Bodies (As seen in R&T’s comparison review). A factor that helped to place it at the bottom of sales in the Pony Car Wars.


Further reading:

Curbside Classic: 1968 Plymouth Barracuda Formula 340 – The Worst Selling Best Pony Car Of 1968

Vintage R&T Review: 1967 Mustang, Barracuda, Camaro – The Pony Car Shootout