When it came on the market in 1964, the Barracuda unwarily sprouted a whole new motoring paradigm. It wasn’t until the rival Ford Mustang – announced on April 14, 1964, two weeks after the Chrysler – that the latest fashion would be named the pony car (because of that stallion emblem on the grille).
The ‘Cuda is long gone, but what would it have become had it stuck around today? We know the Challenger has had some pretty nasty reincarnations since its comeback in 2008, so we would have been almost entitled to think the same about its twin brother from 1970 to 1974. ‘Almost entitled,’ because sometimes carmakers deviate from their creeds: the Charger would be a good example.
However, with the legendary Plymouth long since defunct, the one thing left for the enthusiasts is to upcycle recovered E-bodies with modern powertrains and make the best of both worlds: killers look from when cars were cars and laser-sharp reflexes of present-day muscle. In the early 70s, the top-of-the-heap ‘Cuda was HEMI-powered, but those lasted only two years (1970, 1971). The HEMI was respawned into a third coming in 2003, and we just bid farewell to its Last Call at the end of this January.
Coincidence or not, that’s when a 1971 Plymouth ‘Cuda armed with a modern-day Hellcat HEMI took on a Tesla Plaid over a standing eighth in the frigid weather of Showtime Speedway Pinellas Park in Clearwater, Florida. The Tesla Plaid Channel YouTuber and dragstrip regular Andrew Lutz crossed swords with the splendid resto-moded Hellcat-swapped 1971 ‘Cuda.
The EV (already at over 900 passes down the line, either 1,300- or 660-foot long since 2019) scored a 6.2297-second eighth-mile at 118.51 mph (190.682 kph), with a 1.5508 sixty-foot sprint. The Hellcat – overcoming the prepped surface and the driver’s expectations – followed through in 6.6177, at a more modest 109.68 mph (176.475 kph).
We know that the retrofitted rear-wheel drive Plymouth puts down 707 hp (717 PS) and 650 lb-ft (881 Nm), and the tri-motor AWD Plaid dwarfs that with 1,020 hp (1,033 PS) and 1,047 lb-ft (1,420 Nm). However, the YouTuber notes some mods on the 6.2-liter supercharged engine, so we can't make an accurate comparison. Even if we had all the data, the Plymouth would still have had the apparent traction disadvantage, but the lighter weight could have made up for it.
The electric sedan also raced a 427-cubic-inch fourth-generation Camaro and lost both races. Not because the big-block 7.0-liter V8 was a speed-eating comet but because of the Tesla owner’s wrongdoing. Having jumped both starts, the electric four-door family car was disqualified. Even so, the Camaro driver wasn’t pleased with his second run (when he ET’ed better than the Tesla, with a 6.2416-second pass over the 6.2467-sec of the electric).