1966 Plymouth Barracuda - Commando 273 V8

gwmax65

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Finally got a '66 Barracuda with a factory 273 Commando V8! Traded a 1974 Plymouth Gold Duster /6 5 days ago for it.

The Story...

Saw an awesome Mopar individuals post on Facebook, on the Mopars of Utah group showing he had 2 Barracudas for sale. One was a white '65 Barracuda, couldn't recall if it was a 273 car or not, anywho, the floor pans were gone and the whole vehicle looked like a complete mess... The second was a deep dark blue '66 Barracuda with a 273 Commando V8.

We arranged a time to meet where he kept his stanch of Mopars about a month ago or so, showed me what he had and what was for sale. At the time there, he had 2x '65 Barracudas, and 2x '66 Barracudas. He has a Formula S '66 that's undergoing restoration in his huge garage, in there also lies a '68/'69 Dodge Charger, and a '71 Duster (Drag car). He also has 2x '65 Dodge darts, one with a Commando 273 V8, the other couldn't recall.

So after being amazed by the amount of Mopars he had, he showed me the blue '66 Barracuda that I was very interested in, fired it up by bypassing the ignition cause of some wiring issue, and man oh man did it run very smooth. Couldn't keep it running long by putting gas in the carb. He said he couldn't keep it running cause of some issue with the factory 4bbl carb/needing a rebuild. Has a 904 automatic, floor shift. 7 1/4" rear end...

Took a very good look all around the 'beauty' and there wasn't any major issues with frame rust, but rather just surface rust. Lower rear quarters are gone (typical for a Utah vehicle...), has a ghetto trailer hitch on the back, both front fenders on the top closer to the window had patches of metal welded in place because for some reason there's a pocket in that area that gets crap in it and eventually rusts out.. Interior is 100%, shot. Luckily everything was mostly there, despite the rocker/trim panels + headlight bezels/trim rings.. Drivers floor pan is almost gone. This car came with a factory vinyl top, not sure how rare that is, but never seen one in person with it. The previous owner (guy before the current owner at the time, also believed to be the original owner, now makes me the 3rd) didn't really know what he was doing, so there's a ton of stupid that needs to be fixed. Car hasn't been garaged for 20 years, but was under a huge tree that offered a lot of shade, better than nothing there I guess... Seen worse, when I bought a different Plymouth Duster, same story, sat 20+ years, no shade, bought it unfortunately, and became known as The Ruster. Good thing that one's long gone... '66 Barracuda also has a clean title + vin tag still attached, yay!

So next week he came by my place and took a look at the Duster, really it was the better car overall, but a '66 Commando 273 Barracuda took much more appeal to me despite its present condition. He was really digging the Duster with the 225 slant six, even took it for a ride.

Couple of weeks or so passed without word, and then finally he got back with me and decided he wanted to trade Mopars!

The Now...

So I was really happy there wasn't any money involved, just a straight swap. I'll make it official on here and say that this is, my last project. I already have a '65 Barracuda that's been 80-90% restored, just got to get carpet, seats, and engine bay done and it'll be complete. Also have another blue 1965 Plymouth Barracuda that may be going to a family member.. Still debating on that one...

Link to my nearly restored '65 Barracuda:
http://www.forabodiesonly.com/mopar/showthread.php?p=1970997600

So this is where I'll keep y'all up to date on the progress of the 1966 Plymouth Barracudas restoration! So far all I've done is make it look a little more appealing as it sits in the driveway and not in the garage because of other projects that need to be finished... Good thing I got a car cover for it. Tons of crap and dirt came off after a long power wash.. For fun I took some mothers wax to a spot, and man oh man, I've never seen so much oxidized paint in my life... Waxed one side and it helped it look better for the now. Has 2 rally wheels on the rear, painted red for some reason... and 2 steelies on the front. All 14's, and all shot. The only real good part of this vehicle, body wise, is that there is not one imperfection on the roof, not one dent, just surface rust. Seems weird how early A bodies don't rust like the later, don't know if they used different metal or what back then, but whatever they used/did, they made it right.

So I got a rather long list planned out for this ride... Fun fact, the title was never taken owner ship by the guy before me, so the original owner's name on it was, Orin Hatch. I freaked out when I saw that name, but the real Utah Senator's name has 2 r's in Orrin. Thought that was kinda funny though.. Anyways, major things that have to be done, interior, floor pans, body work, fix some stupid, carb rebuild, fluids to be changed, new wheels, brakes, new gas tank, and a lil' bit of love along the way. So, it'll be a fun LAST project, and hopefully turn out in the end! Mopar or No Car.

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gwmax65

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The Duster that was traded.
 

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Commando66

She's a beaut Clark!
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Like early cars better myself...good trade. That's a regular V8 emblem. Is this an original Commando car? Does it have a fender tag?
 

SSVDP

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Welcome to FABO!
Cool car!
Looks like a great project.
Hopefully you got some headlight bezels for it.
 

gwmax65

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@Commando66, it is! When I first looked into it, I was astonished to find out they actually made base/non Formula S '66 Barracudas with a Commando 273! It does have the fender tag, says 32 under the second A-Z/AB row!

Thanks SSVDP! I got lucky, previous owner found the rocker trim panels for it, but is still searching Mopar heaven in his garage for the trim rings, so hopefully those will turn up soon!
 

gwmax65

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So the project has begun yesterday! Put gloves on, covered half my face with my shirt and gutted the old fish. Never in my life had I seen so much mouse turds, filled up the trash can no problem. Tore the whole head liner out, and carpet. Now have to order a drivers side + rear floor pans, maybe passenger (might get lucky), and learn how to weld floor pans in! Shouldn't be all that difficult I'd say, got plenty of welding skills + a P.O.S. Harbor cheap flux welder that seemed to get the job done ok when I welded the exhaust tips on my dual exhaust - 2001 Sport Ram 1500 5.9L. Also got rid of the fugly wheels and used the new 13's off my '65 Barracuda w/baby moon dog dish hub caps + rings. Not really looking forward to pulling the whole electrical system out and repairing/replacing it due to the mice... Brakes work now, cleaned the empty reservoir real good + added fluid and pumped the pedal like crazy, self bleed itself! Also discovered 1% of the build sheet is under the rear seat, mice/rats got to that too unfortunately. On the plus side, it looks better!!
 

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Tadams

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Be careful with the brakes. I replaced the master cylinder and rebuild all of the brakes. Went to back out of the garage and a rear brake line ruptured. The only thing behind me was my wife's Jaguar. Congrats on your 66. Looking great!
 

RedFish

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Looking forward to watching and maybe helping if/when I can.
 

winstoninwisc

Taint easy livin free,season ticket ona 1wayride
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AWSOME SCORE , hopethat is an original 273 cammando also my 65 was at 1 time
it still was quick . i luv 64-66 barracuda"s and it just happens to be my favorite color
good luck and congrats boise blue cammando too kewl
 

gwmax65

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Thanks all for the compliments! This is gonna be a very slow process indeed, gonna take my time to make this thing immaculate again. Will order a couple floor pans soon and get them welded in there + begin doing body work once I've acquired warehouse space, which shouldn't be too long from now. I've always loved working on projects in the Winter, guess it's something to do with not sweating my A off in 100°F weather but rather putting a coat on and going to work!

Only thing I've recently done is order a trunk key lock, got it installed, had to pull the latch mechanism out and douse it with WD40 while moving the latch back and forth ever so slightly. Had great luck doing this on my younger brother's '65 Plymouth Valiant 200, but this one wasn't gonna be easy... Began to tap it on the ground in attempt to free it up of junk inside to get the latch moving freely, ended up getting tons of seeds and crap out of it. Took it inside, ran it under the sink water for a long time while moving the latch back and forth and finally got it free. Put some motor oil on the parts inside, put it back in the trunk and voila! The trunk closes.

Anyone know of a place other than painless wiring, that sells factory-style repop wiring harnesses? I'm not so sure mine is gonna be save-able...
 

gwmax65

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Happiness arrived at the door step! Also finally got rocker trim panels. Hope to get started on the body work soon, gonna clear out the storage shed of the ol' mans and turn it into a shop. Finally gonna move out of the garage full of projects and into something more practical!
 

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toolmanmike

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I'm following along as well. Great car! You'll have fun redoing this one. Love those HP273's!
 

gwmax65

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Well, got'er fired up for the first time since 2001 - on Saturday! Here's a link to my video of the '66 Commando 273 runnin'! [ame="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TunWJF7sRUk"]1966 Plymouth Barracuda - 273 Commando First Fire! - YouTube[/ame]


Before I got the 'Cuda running, had picked up from where I last left off where I tore the interior out. Drained the oil, spent 3 hours in the cold using a heat gun to heat the oil pan up to allow for it to drain better. There was a lot of nasty sludge gooey stuff coming out, and I had to keep shoving a long screw driver in the oil pan drain plug hole to keep it flowing out. I speculate that there may be a small possibility that coolant got mixed with the oil long ago and some how made it clumpy, but not sure. Anyways, after I got all the nasty out, poured 1-2 quarts of fresh oil in, shook the front end a little to slosh around in the oil pan in attempt to remove any more stuff that shouldn't be in there, and then drained it once more. Got fresh oil in her now, and a new oil filter (NOT FRAM) in place.

The next day I spent some time cleaning around the 904's transmission oil pan before taking it off, lots of crud built up on it due to leaks and whatnot over the years. Pulled the pan off, didn't see any major metal flakes, but rather a silvery film on the pan, so I think it's just normal wear, and it looks pretty clean to me. RockAuto didn't send me the correct pan gasket (as the usual stuff goes with them..) but the filter was correct. Went to AutoZone, they had the correct gasket I needed, got it, replaced the filter, then put the pan back on with the gasket. I'm not a believer in using RTV/gasket maker to sandwich the pan and pan gasket to the transmission because I don't want to have any chance of that stuff breaking off inside the transmission pan and going someplace it shouldn't. Also, never had a leak with no sealant of any kind, just use the bare gasket and it's all good (the gasket maker was suggested by the autozone guy...).

So the next day I drained the rotten gas out of the tank, which is always a fun day to do such a thing on projects with 10+ year old gas... Used my cheap $10 low pressure electric external fuel pump with fuel hoses, and a filter attached to siphon out the rotten gas. Filled up 5x empty oil jugs, took em out to the shed to sit till the city toxic waste recycle day comes again.. Put about 5 gallons of fresh fuel in. Went and disconnected the fuel line from the carb and main line to the mechanical fuel pump. Blew out the line that went to the carb, got some rotten gas out, also threw a new see-through (fram...) fuel filter on. Used my electric fuel pump to siphon any rotten gas out of the main line, and nothing came. I found this rather strange to find I wasn't getting any fuel, cause I've done this before on other Mopars I've worked on in the past and usually had no problem. So I began investigating, jacked the rear end of the '66 up, carefully and ever so slightly began to remove the short rubber fuel line that goes between the main fuel line and the fuel sending unit at the tank. Popped it off, and nothing came out...... (also blew a ton of crud out of the main fuel line when it was disconnected) So I got some heavy gauge wire, shoved it in there to clean any stuff out, got it to start leaking a little, and then stopped. Figured by then that the pick-up screen must be clogged with who knows what over the years + the rotten gas sitting in there forever. By this time, I decided to leave that alone for another day and just run a fuel line to a 2-1/2 gallon gas jug, and try to fire her up. So I got to that point, then poured a little bit of gas in the stock Carter AFB carb, hooked a battery up after verifying I didn't have a short anywhere in the wiring system, with a battery tester/meter - on the continuity mode, checking between the negative and positive clamp (Not hooked on the battery! Cause we'd know what would happen there...). Checked to see if the lights worked, and all of them did surprisingly! - Even the radio and console lights were on!

Turned the key, and she backfired really LOUD.

After shaking that off, tried again with pouring a little bit of gas in, and this time I got her to fire up for a couple of seconds, and then died. Did this a couple more times till the gas from the jug made its way to the bowl inside the carb. For some reason I could only keep it running on the accelerator pump, had previously shot a bunch of carb cleaner throughout the carb, and into the idle mixture screw ports + some other ports. I figured that the idle circuits must be clogged with rotten fuel and whatnot, must be rebuilt.

The next day I decided to just throw my rebuilt Edelbrock 1406 - 600 cfm carburetor on the 273 along with a spacer so the butter flies could open completely due to the design of the stock 4bbl intake having 4 circles instead of a square bore. Went to O'reilly's to buy a throttle+kick-down adapter (1481 is the number for the adapter), also got heater hose, and some other things. Got back, hooked the Edelbrock up, and replaced the heater hoses after blowing some crud out of the heater core. Cranked and cranked for about 15 seconds or so, and voila! She fired up and stayed running!! Adjusted the mixture screws to lean her out, also adjusted my throttle cable to set the idle where I thought it sounded best, till I install a tachometer. Ran her till operating temperature, also had 60-70psi oil pressure. Checked the antifreeze after she cooled down (had replaced the radiator + antifreeze prior to all of this) and it looked very clean! Couldn't get the blower motor to kick on, probably clogged with leafs or a blown fuse, but the heater hoses were hot so that's a good sign. The secondaries opened up no problem on the Edelbrock, made that cool sounding throaty gob of power when revved. Didn't try to see if it would drop in gear yet cause I gotta replace my manual brake master cylinder due to the internals leaking bad. Looking around for an external push rod so I can use my brand new master cylinder that has it's guts self-contained. So that's pretty much all that's going on so far! Clearing out a warehouse so I can work more easily on her over this chilly winter. Next thing to attack, getting the brakes to work, get some gear oil in the rear axle, get a new fuel sending unit, and maybe gas tank. Real happy to hear her running, and sounding really healthy for a 50 year old 273 Commando V8.
 

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CudaChick1968

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Ohhhhh PLEASE get rid of that air cleaner. They're informally known as the "Edelbrock Triangle of Death" ... one backfire through the carburetor can ignite the foam insert and burn your beloved baby to the ground.
 

gwmax65

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Not sure Edelbrock would be making these if that's the case. This is my 3rd one I've done on a small block, had plenty backfires in the past, never caught on fire. People outta make sure their timing is correct though!
 
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