Introduced on April 1, 1964, just 16 days before the Ford Mustang debut, the Barracuda faced stiff competition from the start. Billed as a top of the line Valiant, it started as a Plymouth Valiant Barracuda. While Ford made the decision to market the Mustang far apart from the Falcon that is was based on, Chrysler chose to keep the Barracuda close to the Valiant name – at least for the first year.
The Barracuda also had limited performance options the first year. The base engine in the Barracuda was a 101 horsepower, 170 cid slant six with a larger 145 horsepower six and a 180 horsepower V8 as the only power options. Meanwhile Ford offered a wide range of powerplant options, including a scorching 271 horsepower V8.
While the Mustang marketed it’s sportiness, the Barracuda maintained no such pretensions, It was simply a fastback Valiant with a massive 2070 square inch back window. The fastback proportions proved to be better than the proportions of the Dodge Charger and Rambler Marlin of the era.
The Barracuda’s rear seat folded down to give a cargo deck nearly 6 feet in length, and the base price of $2,365 was very reasonable. The price was $3 less than the Mustang’s and only $109 more than the Valiant Signet hardtop. The torsion bar front suspension gave the Barracuda good handling qualities and a comfortable ride.
Sales numbers for the first year Barracuda topped out at 23,443. Meanwhile, the Mustang sold 121,538 cars in its first year. Luckily for 1965, Plymouth officially made the Barracuda a separate model and increased the available performance options, which helped triple the sales figures for the year.
If you’re looking for a first year Barracuda, outstanding examples can be purchased for under $10,000- A reasonable price for a unique classic car that is bound to turn heads.