1969 Plymouth Barracuda With Rare and Controversial Feature Is an Amazing Survivor

When discussing the Plymouth Barracuda, we usually think about the third-generation version. And that's because the 1970 to 1974 model is the best-looking 'Cuda out there. It was also available in the coolest colors and with Mopar's most powerful V8 engines. But that's not to say that the earlier Barracudas don't deserve a place in the spotlight.
1969 Plymouth Barracuda Mod Top 8 photos
Photo: Matt Gause/YouTube
1969 Plymouth Barracuda Mod Top1969 Plymouth Barracuda Mod Top1969 Plymouth Barracuda Mod Top1969 Plymouth Barracuda Mod Top1969 Plymouth Barracuda Mod Top1969 Plymouth Barracuda Mod Top1969 Plymouth Barracuda Mod Top
Granted, the first-gen model wasn't exactly pretty or potent. The massive, wrap-around rear window made it look weird next to the more appealing Ford Mustang. Moreover, the car was underpowered unless specified with the four-barrel 273-cubic-inch (4.5-liter) V8. Introduced in 1965, this mill came with 235 horsepower on tap.

The second-gen version, on the other hand, saw the Barracuda move into muscle car territory. Plymouth gave the compact a sportier design and introduced new V8 mills, including the 340-cubic-inch (5.6-liter) small-block and the 383-cubic-inch (6.3-liter) big-block. The 440-cubic-inch (7.2-liter) RB and the HEMI also found their way into limited-edition models, but they only became regulars when the third-gen 'Cuda arrived for the 1970 model year.

While it's far from becoming a million-dollar classic like the 1970 and 1971 HEMI 'Cuda Convertible, the late 1960s Barracuda spawned a few rare gems. There's the M-Code 440, built in 340 units, and the drag-ready 1968 B029, of which only 50 were made. The convertibles are rare, too, with just a few thousand produced over three years.

But there's another rare Barracuda most people tend to miss because it's not a model per se. It's a vinyl roof option that goes by the name Mod Top. Featuring a floral pattern and a base color matched to the paint, it gave Mopars a somewhat psychedelic look. It was introduced on select Dodge and Plymouth models in 1969 but did not make it beyond the 1970 model year.

Chrysler conceived the Mod Top to attract a younger audience to its pony cars. But it was also aimed at female drivers, who preferred the more popular Ford Mustang at the time. The floral pattern also trickled into the cabin, decorating the seats and the door panels. Dodge offered the special top on the Dart, Coronet, and Super Bee, while Plymouth customers could order it on the Barracuda and Satellite.

Although it was only $12.45 more expensive than the regular vinyl top, the floral roof didn't catch on. Dodge and Plymouth sold only about 2,900 Mod Top cars combined through 1970, so Chrysler discontinued the option.

The top was also controversial due to printed ads saying: "See your nearby Plymouth dealer. He has a whole mad, mod story. He's fond of women, too." Introduced right amid the women's liberation movement, the tagline was deemed sexist. Plymouth responded by changing the reference to "he's out to win you over, too."

Come 2023, Mod Top Mopars are very scarce. Not only was the 2,900-example production run split among five nameplates, but many didn't survive to see the 21st century. And some of the vehicles that are still around lost their tops due to improper storage. The 1969 Barracuda you see here is one of those rare gems still sporting its factory Mod Top.

Recently showcased at the Holley MoParty in Bowling Green, Kentucky, this late second-gen Barracuda is an unmolested survivor. While the body has been repainted and the engine refreshed, the vinyl top and the upholstery are all original. And this is a big deal when it comes to Mod Top classics. Sure, the cream finish prevents the top from standing out like it would on a green or blue car, but we can't be picky with a rig produced in fewer than 50 examples. She's definitely an understated beauty.

Mod Top aside, this Barracuda left the assembly plant with the most popular V8 choice for the 1969 model year. I'm talking about the 318-cubic-inch (5.2-liter) V8, which found its way in almost half of the 32,000 examples shipped that year. Being an automatic coupe, this pony is one of 6,270 examples made with this drivetrain combo.

All told it wouldn't be rare without the Mod Top option. But sometimes, it takes just a tiny check mark on the options list to turn a mundane vehicle into a hard-to-find classic. Check it out in the video below, and let me know if you're a fan of these Mod Top classics.

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About the author: Ciprian Florea
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Ask Ciprian about cars and he'll reveal an obsession with classics and an annoyance with modern design cues. Read his articles and you'll understand why his ideal SUV is the 1969 Chevrolet K5 Blazer.
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