Potential project Barracuda

Early A-Body Discussions

  1. Andrew Cline

    Andrew Cline Member

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    My dad picked this 1965 barracuda up at auction and I'm mulling whether it's worthwhile to build. It would be my first mopar. It's actually moving under its own power with a slant 6 of unknown quality but doesn't look to have been on the road in a while and if I tackle it at all I would be doing a modernish v8 swap and probably disc brakes and a stronger limited slip rearend.

    Before I go down that rabbit hole I'll probably get someone who knows more about body work than me to check it out but thought I'd throw some pics up here, too. My main concern is the condition of what I guess are like frame rails with this being a unibody car. There's at least no through hole rust that I saw so I'm hopeful it isn't a lost cause. I was sort of surprised to see there are separate front and back rails as the only other unibody I've worked on they run the length of the car. I guess the floor plans are basically holding the two ends together? If so, I need floor pans for sure. And will probably weld the front and back rails together just because the two halves thing weirds me out. That just seems floppy.

    It's definitely got some fiberglass and bondo in places but the tricky areas of panel seem mostly ok. But it also has about 4 layers of paint, each crappier than the last, so I could be wrong. Every piece of glass including that greenhouse in the back is intact. Honestly that's a big selling point on this car for me. I always liked boat tail rivieras and had somehow never run across the first gen Barracuda. So I like the look. I think this one maybe has some incorrect stuff going on with the hood and grille, though?

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    • Murray

      Murray FABO Gold Member FABO Gold Member

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      Already in your pics I see rusted out floors which is probably just the tip of the iceberg. The more you open up this car, the more you're going to find. I'm afraid you're going to end up hating Mopars when you discover the large amount of money that it is going to take to fix it and make it safe. I hate to discourage you, but I think you would be better off starting with a little better first Mopar.
       
    • RustyRatRod

      RustyRatRod I didn't do it. FABO Gold Member

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      That's a barracuda with a 63 Valiant front end on it. 7th picture down there's a big rust hole in the floor.
       
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      • A56

        A56 MoParAffliction FABO Gold Member

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        If the frame rails are good, and the torsion bar cross member is good you're way ahead of the game depending on your willingness to tackle the sheet metal body work and your overall goals for the car.
         
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        • Andrew Cline

          Andrew Cline Member

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          To clarify, my goals are basically to make it structurally sound to be safe enough to drive and then the engine swap etc. I'm not trying to do anything remotely show quality. Having looked around floor panels for this car don't seem terribly expensive and there are even some aftermarket rail connectors to join the front and back. Maybe I'll try to clean up the rails and if they look OK and the car takes floorpans and the connectors it at least shouldn't snap apart, I think? I guess we'll see what body guy says.
           
        • Tooljunkie

          Tooljunkie King of cobble/master of the broken bolt FABO Gold Member

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          Honestly it looks like a good start. Mine was just as rough, with some exterior sheet metal needing replacing too. Frame connectors are a must in my opinion, and rockers need to be sound as well.
           
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          • abdywgn

            abdywgn dismantler

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            do you have a bunch invested in it that you would loose if you need to part it out? if welding is something you can do and have a place to work on it, give it a go! practice on it. who knows, maybe it will end up being back-halved and have a blown small...or GenIII Hemi with throttle body tunnel ram. Have fun!
             
          • Andrew Cline

            Andrew Cline Member

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            Just learning to weld but do have some mig and flux core welding equipment and no shortage of scrap to practice. I was thinking this might be a decent first body project, just don't want to start totally from scratch. Much more experience on the mechanical side having done at least one engine swap (modern Japanese car) and a good bit of suspension work. Currently finishing my first actual engine build (air cooled vw.) This Barracuda would be stretching my current abilities on a few fronts but I guess you have to at some point to progress.

            Current investment in the car is fair enough that it could be sold for profit as it sits, especially since there's a title. It's just a question of whether there's enough foundation to justify a build for my purposes/abilities. If it's buildable I'm not sure I'd do much better in the same $2k neighborhood.
             
            Last edited: Nov 23, 2020
          • A56

            A56 MoParAffliction FABO Gold Member

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            Well 2k is about the correct price, I've seen worse for more.
             
          • toolmanmike

            toolmanmike FABO MODERATOR Staff Member FABO Gold Member

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            Looks like a fun car. There are aftermarket floor pan patch panels that can be welded in and plenty of good information here at FABO about that and fabbing up some subframe ties. What the heck. Have fun with it.
             
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            • 70chall440

              70chall440 Mopar or No Car...

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              I have read through this as it seems you have several competing issues; you want to make it a driver but are not real sure you want to spend what it will take, but you are not sure what it will take so you are unsure. This is a pretty common issue and one that is never real easy to answer.

              First thing you need to come to grips with is how you feel about the car. If you are not inspired by the car (meaning you really like it), it will become a PIA pretty quickly. Building cars is as much about the passion of it as it is anything else. So if you are like "Meh..." when you look at it, then you need to sell it to someone else who is passionate about it. I am not trying to be "that guy", I am trying to tell you that if you are not "into" the car then when it gets tough it will be exceptionally tempting to stop and dump it, but at that point you will not get a lot of it because it is cut up and apart. Many of us have scored many a similar project from someone who got in way over their head and lost interest, CL is full of these types of things.

              If you do like or are inspired by the car, then by all means jump on it but here some reality you need to really consider; this is not going to be "cheap" unless you do things very poorly and don't really care about quality. To make that car a driver (with the drive train you currently have) you are looking at probably $5K minimum but more likely much more. Since you have stated you don't know how to weld, there is going to be a learning curve there which will cost you some money. Commensurate with that I suspect you are not well versed in panel replacement, body work, etc. all of which will require you to learn and cost money. Not saying this isn't worth doing, I highly encourage people to learn these skills but you need to do it on something you are excited about, that will keep you in the fight because resurrecting that car is going to be a significant challenge.

              Is the car worth fixing, absolutely! Should you attempt it? Only you can answer that. Not trying to rain on your parade, just trying to offer some reality. I've done many cars and I have threatened to burn everyone of them to the ground a number of times out of frustration and anger; its a part of the game (at least for me). None of it is rocket science or super difficult, but it does require a passion for it and a desire to learn, but IMO the most important aspect is the ability to see the outcome and continue to drive towards that.
               
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              • JDMopar

                JDMopar Well-Known Member

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                Your frame rails look to be good, with just some surface rust. Sure, you have some rusty floor pans....but that's the case with the majority of early A bodies, along with rusty spare tire wells. Look for front fenders and hood from a 64-65 Barracuda, or from a 65 Valiant. 64 Valiant fenders were different. A barracuda grill is much different, and every now and then they pop up for sale here. Expect about every center grill section you find for a 64-65 Barracuda to have broken top mounting tabs. That's nothing that can't be fixed with some same thickness aluminum bent to shape, and some Fusor body panel adhesive. If you're into the car pretty cheap so far....go for it! It appears to be a good car to learn on, and hone your skills with. I see you're in Charlotte. Any relatives in the Asheville/Candler, NC area? There was a guy named Gene Cline on the track team with me in high school.
                 
              • JDMopar

                JDMopar Well-Known Member

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                Also, if you want to sell the grill and any of the 63 Valiant front end stuff, check with FABO member @Princess Valiant to see if she may be interested in any of it for her 63 Valiant wagon.
                 
              • cudamark

                cudamark FABO Gold Member FABO Gold Member

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                Seeing that it's had a '63 front end put on the car, I'd look real good at the innerstructure of the front end. It may have been in a pretty good wreck sometime in it's past.
                 
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                • Tims 66 Cuda

                  Tims 66 Cuda Mopar mid life crisis

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                  You have a pretty good platform to start with. I started with the floor pans to hone my mig skills. When you get to the panels you,ll be on your way. These projects can be intimidating and fun at the same time. You will work your ass off and feel like done nothing one day and the next you see results. Good luck.

                  Tim
                   
                • Bob Jasinski

                  Bob Jasinski FABO Gold Member FABO Gold Member

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                  Andrew, I'm in the later part of a restoration on a '65 Formula S Barracuda, I know what it costs. I would not take on this project unless you have a very strong desire to own one, and if you do, buy the best one you can find, not this one. You will need to find a complete front clip with all three grills, and they are NOT easy to find in good condition. Replating a grill when you find one, is about $600 for each side, the center is painted, but most of them are cracked. Then there is the rust, and this is a slant six car which means it has small brakes, probably 9" drums all around. Its good that the glass is in reasonable shape, but many people think that the back glass in a '65 Barracuda breaks easily and is rare to find, well it isn't, they do come up fairly often as people tended to store them thinking they would be worth a lot of money, but they are not that hard to find. Speaking from experience, I would not restore it unless it was a Formula S car, and then if it was complete with the correct front end. Don't want to rain on your parade, but I would not put a lot of time and money into this car, consider parting it out instead.
                   
                  Last edited: Nov 25, 2020
                • Andrew Cline

                  Andrew Cline Member

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                  No plans to restore it so not super worried about anything being correct cosmetically as far as trim. The valiant grille is actually growing on me. The stock Barracuda grille is kind of "busy." I was actually considering swapping the seats out with the pans for something with an integrated shoulder belt since the lack of pillar makes a shoulder belt install look tricky otherwise. So putting/keeping things OE isn't a must for me. Just looking to make it a structurally sound driver and maybe worry about the rest later. I suspect disc brakes, suspension and rearend would be the largest chunk of expense if I just find a used modernish drivetrain. Seems like floor pans and frame rail connectors would probably take care of the structural issues. I'll dig into the car a bit deeper and continue my research.
                   
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                  • RustyRatRod

                    RustyRatRod I didn't do it. FABO Gold Member

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                    I kinda like the 63 front end on it. Makes it unique. lol
                     
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                    • Andrew Cline

                      Andrew Cline Member

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                      I think I'm leaning towards tackling it pending further climbing around under the car, double checking the front end, and getting a second set of eyes on it in person for a sanity check. I'll poke around for the information myself, too, but any suggestions appreciated for a 300ish+ horsepower drivetrain that will fit easily (no firewall/engine bay cutting, stock engine mount locations a plus). Manual transmission would be preferred but open to decent autos. There is a clutch pedal assembly in the car for its current three-on-the-tree but I'm not sure if that really puts me ahead at all versus the auto probably being easier. It'd be a hole in the floor either way. If there's a common limited slip rearend that fits this car well that would also be good to know.
                       
                    • cudamark

                      cudamark FABO Gold Member FABO Gold Member

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                      A 360/904 combination would probably be the cheapest and easiest way of getting 300+ horsepower and is a relatively easy install. You'll need to decide early on what brakes, wheels, and bolt pattern you're going to use before you buy a rear axle or disc brake package. There are pluses and minuses to various options. With that horsepower, I would want at least an 8 3/4 rear axle assembly. The existing 7 1/4 is a grenade with the pin almost out and hanging on by a thread. An 8 1/4 is cheaper and easier to get over an 8 3/4, and comes with the 4 1/2" bolt pattern, but, it's not as strong and has a poorer designed axle shaft setup. It's also harder to swap gears if you chose to do so at a later date. A-body 8 3/4's are kind of pricey so, finding one out of a different model and having the housing narrowed to fit an A-body can sometimes be the way to go. That way you can choose which 3rd member you want to use, and whether you want to keep the small bolt pattern wheels or change to the big bolt pattern and bigger brakes. If you happen to stumble over a stock A-body 8 3/4 sure grip rear, that wouldn't be a bad thing, but, it would have the small bolt pattern wheels. Unless you change to an aftermarket axle shaft, you would probably want to stay with the small bolt pattern brakes up front too, so you don't have to carry two spares. That would mean rounding up a complete Kelsey Hayes A-body disc brake changeover.....not an easy task either. Since the car isn't going to be stock, I'd find a good donor car with the brakes and rear end I want and modify things as necessary. You might even find one with the engine/trans you want too. Check with your local wrecking yards or online ads for a donor car. Sometimes you can get a rust bucket cheap that has a good drivetrain.
                       
                    • RustyRatRod

                      RustyRatRod I didn't do it. FABO Gold Member

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                      A 360 will flat accomplish the job but a pretty warm 318 will as well.....and if done right can even have some semblance of gas mileage. The 4" bore of the 360 is great for making power for sure, but the drawback is that it will burn a lot more fuel......that is if mileage is something that concerns you. A pretty warm 318, an 833 four speed over drive and some 3.55 gears would be a really nice combo in that light car. Hell, I have a stock 170 3 on the tree with 3.55s and I love it. It's peppy as can be.
                       
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                      • Andrew Cline

                        Andrew Cline Member

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                        So to follow up. I dug into the body some with a wire wheel on an angle grinder. The frame rails and rocker panels seem quite solid. But the sheet metal has at least as much filler in places as expected. Mostly above the rocker panels. If I'm not shooting for perfection, or even necessarily good as far as matching the original shape of the metal, if I just cut all that out and weld new panels to the rockers and wherever the good metal above them starts... that should get things to structurally sound, right? (Along with rail connectors and new floor pans.)

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                      • Tims 66 Cuda

                        Tims 66 Cuda Mopar mid life crisis

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                        Andrew, as stated before, Its up to you how far your willing to go. Mopars aint cheap and early A,s are worse. The parts are out there you just have to hunt them down.64,s and 65,s have more parts to find and better than one year specific like my 66.
                        Donor metal and 20ga sheet metal will be your friend. There are quarter patch panels available and floor pans. The frame rails and most of the underside look good. You can make your own frame connectors on the cheap.
                        This site will guide along the way. You can find out about everything for your car and the members are super about sharing knowledge .

                        Tim
                         
                      • Tbro

                        Tbro Well-Known Member

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                        I'd keep it. I purchased a '65 Valiant for $1500.00 and the floor pans are shot. I got Bbp 7 1/4 rear and disc brakes from '74 4 door Dart cheap. It's a start and 5.2 magnums are cheap. You will need a drop center link for v8 conversion. Post a want add. Best of luck with your project.
                         
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