1968 Plymouth Barracuda Formula S / Photos and Specs

Here is a great example of Plymouth’s contribution to the 1960′s muscle car wars…the 1968 Plymouth Barracuda Formula S. This car has good looking lines and a powerful engine.

plymouth barracuda formula s

1968 Plymouth Barracuda Formula S

The Plymouth Barracuda Pony Car

An historical fact is that the Plymouth Barracuda was the first Pony Car coming on the market about two weeks before the Ford Mustang. The first Barracuda (1964) was actually an option package for the Plymouth Valiant model. By the time 1967 came around the Plymouth Barracuda had no resemblance to the Valiant model from which it came although there were mechanical similarities. The connection with the Plymouth Valiant would entirely end with the 1970 Barracuda model.

The base engine for the 64 Barracuda was a 225  slant six. There was also a 273 cubic inch V-8 available delivering 180 HP. These engines would continue to be employed with the 1965 and 1966 Barracudas.

The 1968 Plymouth Barracuda was among the second generation models. Many would say that the second generation Barracuda was what should have been designed for first generation models.The second generation Plymouth Barracuda was available in fastback, notchback and convertible styles.

The Plymouth Barracuda was designed by John Samsen who also did design work for the first Ford Thunderbirds. It was also Samsen who chose the word “Barracuda” for this new Plymouth line. The Barracuda name prevailed over management’s suggestion of “Panda”. Barracuda was probably a good choice for what would become a true muscle car.

Plymouth Barracudas were produced from the 1964 model year through 1974.

1968 plymouth barracuda sThe Barracuda Formula S

The Barracuda Formula S was available since 1965. The Formula S package for 1968 included engines of either a Commando 340 or the 383 cubic inch design. In addition to this the Formula S came with.heavy-duty suspension and wheels, heavy duty shock absorbers and E70-14 Red Streak tires. front fender badges and special hood inserts.  The Barracuda Formula S was known for superior cornering and general handling.

Your 68 Plymouth Barracuda Formula S would have cost you new about $2,700 for the hardtop, about $2,900 for the fastback version and about $3,050 for the convertible.

1968 Plymouth Barracuda Production Numbers

Total 1968 Plymouth Barracuda production was 46,018 units. Out of that number there were a total of 28,775 V-8 models. Total Formula S 340′s were 3,917 units and total Formula S 383′s were 1,270 units. These production numbers are estimates only. There are some variations depending on source.

1968 Plymouth Barracuda Formula S Specifications

As mentioned above, the 68 Formula S as built with either a Commando 340 or the 383 cubic inch engine. The 340 was rated at 275 HP and the 383 cubic inch at 300 HP. The car’s speedometer had a top speed indicator of 150 MPH. The 1968 model year also saw a 426 Hemi package put into only about 50 Barracudas.

1968 plymouth barracuda dashboardThe transmissions available on this 68 Plymouth included an A-833 four-speed or a 727 TorqueFlite automatic.

Brakes on this model were either four wheel drums or an option of front discs and rear drums.

Suspension on the 68 Barracuda included a front independent wishbone and a live axle rear with leaf springs.

Dimensions for the 68 Barracuda Formula S included a wheelbase of 108.0 inches, an overall length of 192.8 inches, a width of 71.6 inches and a height of 52.8 inches. Weight was 3,340 lbs. The second generation wheelbase was increased by 2 inches.

You may enjoy the additional Auto Museum Online articles on the links below…

The 1967 Pontiac GTO / Specs and Photos

The 1969 Chevy Camaro

The 1965 Chevrolet Impala SS

Reference material and excellent books regarding the Plymouth Barracuda include…Barracuda Model Portfolio 1964-1974 by author R.M. Clarke. Also Challenger and Cuda, Mopar’s E-Body Muscle Cars by Robert Genat and Dodge Challenger and Plymouth Barracuda by author David Newhardt.

1960′s Plymouth Barracuda Collector Cars

The Plymouth Barracudas from the 1960′s ate true muscle cars. As mentioned above, the Barracuda was the first Pony Car, coming on the market a few weeks prior to the Ford Mustang.

plymouth barracuda hemiWhen it comes to Plymouth Barracuda collector popularity, everything pretty much starts with the second generation, 67-69 models, where the design departure from the Valiant occurred.

As of this writing you’ll likely see asking prices for 1968 Plymouth Barracudas in the range of $15,000 to $29,000 depending of course on overall condition and mileage. Restored Barracudas will be on the high side and priced to the quality and degree of restoration.

You’ll also see the limited edition 426 Hemi priced perhaps in the high $100,000 area. There were only about fifty of these Hemi models built for 1968 and of course they are rare.

(Article and photos copyright 2015 Auto Museum Online)

See the 1936 Auburn 852 Speedster / Specs and Photos

Some of the most dazzling classic car designs happened to come out during the Great Depression of the 1930′s. The famous Auburn automobiles were noted for such designs like the automobile featured in this article, the 1936 Auburn 852 Speedster.

auburn 852 speedster

1936 Auburn 852 Speedster

The Auburn Automobile Company

Auburn Automobiles had it’s roots like several others in the carriage building industry of the 1800′s. The original Auburn Automobile Company was established by the Eckhart brothers who had worked for and then inherited, from their father, the Eckhart Carriage Company. This transitioning from horse drawn carriage manufacturing to automobile manufacturing is similar to the Studebaker story.

The Auburn Automobile Company was founded in 1900 with the offering of a one cylinder automobile. By 1919 the company was having hard times and was purchased by a group of Chicago investors. Not ling afterwards, the investors hired a man named E. L. Cord to turn the business around. The recession of 1921-22 had an adverse effect on the company. Cord would later partner with Duesenberg and build the Cord automobile.

The Auburn Automobile Company aside from turning out some terrific looking vehicles during the 30′s also went through quite a management shake up. This included the fact that, E.L Cord, the former Chicago car salesman turned automaker president, was under fire for alleged mismanagement as well as questionable stock dealings and the company found itself with an acting president  in 1935 by the name of Harold T. Ames. The overriding problem for Auburn during the mid to latter thirties was simply that their cars were too expensive for that decade. The 1936 Auburn 852 Phaeton shown in this article had a new car price of about $1,725.

1936 auburn 852The Auburn 852 Speedster

The Auburn 852′s were designed by Gordon Buehrig, a noted automobile designer hired during the 1920′s by E. L. Cord. The Auburn 852 might be one of the most beautifully styled automobiles of the 1930′s. It’s interesting to note that, due to the problems at Auburn, the 852 would be the last Auburn designed by Buehrig and the 1936 model year was the last for Auburn itself.

The 1936 Auburn 852 Speedster was built with a Lycoming 280 cubic inch in-line eight cylinder engine. The engine was rated at 150 HP with it’s supercharger. The top speed was claimed to be 100 MPH.

Transmission for the 36 model was a three speed dual ratio manual. Brakes were four wheel hydraulic.

Car dimensions included an overall length of 194.4 inches, a width of 71.5 inches and a wheelbase of 127.0 inches. The car’s weight was 3,752 lbs.

There was an estimated 500 of the Auburn 852′s produced over the 1935 and 1936 model years.

See these additional Auto Museum Online articles on the links below…

The 1936 Cord 810 Cabriolet

The 1929 Auburn Boattail Speedster

Antique and Classic Car Serial Numbers / What They Tell Us

 

A Great Place to See Auburn Automobiles

One great venue to view and learn more about the cars from Auburn is a visit to the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum in Auburn Indiana. The Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum is a National Historic Landmark and is located in the building that was once the national headquarters and showroom for the Auburn Automobile Company.

auburn speedster dashboard

Interior and dashboard on the 36 Auburn 852 Speedster

This building first opened in 1930 and the museum itself opened in 1974. The Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum features Auburn car exhibits as well as 25,000 artifacts of photos, blueprints, books and advertising material. See the collection of Auburn produced vehicles from 1900 through 1936. Auburns, Cords and Duesenbergs were known for their quality engineering, great styling and outstanding performance.

The museum is accredited by the American Association of Museums.This unique museum is located at 1600 South Wayne Street, Auburn Indiana.

Other events relating to Auburn automobiles are the Auburn Spring and Auburn Fall   classic car and collector swap meets, auctions and auto corrals. These events are held annually in May and September at the Auburn Auction Park in Auburn, Indiana.

auburn speedsterOriginal Auburn Collector Automobiles

Original and restored Auburns have garnered high auction prices. These automobiles have a lot going for them when you consider their limited production runs, such as with the 852 model. The Auburns were also known for their great styling and performance. On top of that are the stories about the company itself and the successes and failures of E.L. Cord.

These beautiful automobiles may not be for every collector. Auction results for the 852 Phaetons, as of this writing, have been generally in the low to mid $100,000 area. The Speedster models have seen auction prices in the $400,000 to $800,000 range.

(Article and photos copyright 2015 Auto Museum Online)

1955 Ford Thunderbird / See Photos, Specs and Design History

The 1950′s Ford Thunderbirds are iconic 50′s collector cars. Chevrolet came out a year earlier with their fiberglass Corvette and the Thunderbird was Ford’s answer to it. In fact, designing for the Thunderbird came out immediately, only one month, after the Corvette was introduced. The 1955 Ford Thunderbird featured in this article is a beautiful representation of this popular automobile.

1955 ford thunderbird photo

1955 Ford Thunderbird

As a side note, the “Thunderbird” name was drawn from an in-house contest at Ford Motor Company. The winning employee, a Ford stylist, won a suit from Saks Fifth Avenue. The first 1955 Ford Thunderbird was built in September 1954 in Dearborn, Michigan.

Chevrolet introduced it’s Corvette at the 1953 Metrorama. Interestingly enough, Ford was well aware of the popularity of two seat sports cars prior to Chevrolet coming out with the Corvette. All they had to do was look at the British MG and it’s success in North America. At the same time the economy was humming along fine and sport cars even as second vehicles were popular.

This popularity was not ignored. Designing for what would be the Ford Thunderbird began during the first years of the 1950′s.  As a result, when the Ford designers were given the job of designing the Thunderbird a lot of work had already been completed.

first generation ford t birdFord Thunderbird Comfort and Styling

The 1955 Ford Thunderbird was introduced to the public at the 1954 Detroit Auto Show. This was a sporty two seat roadster that emphasized passenger comfort. Add to that performance and you had an all around sports car that had more creature comforts than the British imports. On top of that the car had a removable hardtop. This new automobile from Ford generated so much excitement that the company sold their first cars in October 1954, about one month ahead of schedule. It’s been said that Ford had some 4,000 pre-orders for the 55 Thunderbird.

When you note that the Thunderbird was created to compete against the two-seater Chevy Corvette, you have to also point out the differences between the two cars. First off, the Corvette was had a fiberglass body. The Thunderbird’s was all steel. The first Corvette had a straight six engine and the first Thunderbird came with a V-8. Corvette would add a V-8 as an option for the 1955 model.

Another important thing to note was that the Ford Thunderbird was not really built solely as a sports car like the Chevy Corvette. They were competing head to head, but as mentioned above, Ford appeared to put more creature comfort features into their Thunderbird. The two cars were really tow different machines from the exterior body material to the interior appointments. This fact probably led Ford to create a new automobile niche called the “personal luxury car“. Really not a bad idea at all when you consider there was a market for a part sport car-part luxury coupe.

Motor Trend, in regards to the new Ford Thunderbird, pretty much summed up Ford managements goal for the automobile…”Ford prefers to call it a ‘personal car. The thinking behind this, as brought out in a discussion with W.R. Burnett, chief passenger car engineer for Ford, is that ‘although the Thunderbird has the performance and attributes of most sports cars, management also felt that it should have a few more comforts to make it more appealing to a wider segment of the public.’”

The First Generation Ford Thunderbird

The first generation of Ford Thunderbirds were the 1955 through 1957 model years. There were eleven generations in all from 1955 to 2005.

1955 Ford Thunderbird Specifications

The engines on these first generation Thunderbirds were Mercury 292 cubic inch V-8′s.

Both three speed automatic and three speed manual transmissions were offered with the 55 T-Bird. The automatic was named the “Ford-O-Matic“. The car equipped with the automatic could deliver about 198 HP. With the manual gearbox the horsepower was 193.

1955 ford thunderbird engineBrakes were four wheel drum.

Suspension for the Thunderbird was really no different than other Ford cars. This was Independent front suspension using coil springs and a solid rear axle on leaf springs.

About 16,000 1955 T-Birds were sold. To illustrate how good demand was, Ford had planned on selling only 10,000 units. This far surpassed Chevrolet Corvette sale for that year. This was regardless any price difference. Base price for this Thunderbird was $2,700. If you started adding options that price could balloon another $1,000.

See the following Auto Museum Online articles on the links below…

 Story of the 1959 Ford Fairlane 500 Skyliner Retractable Hardtop

1986 Excalibur Series V Phaeton

Where to Find Serial Numbers on Classic Cars

1968 Plymouth Barracuda Formula S

55 t bird dashboard

55 T-Bird dash and interior

First Generation Ford Thunderbird Collector Cars

The 1955 Ford Thunderbird is obviously a rare and valuable collector car. The 55 being the first year model may be the most valuable because of milestone status. Many of the models you’re likely to see today have  been restored to pristine like new showroom condition and if you wish to bid on one the price tag is not cheap. You can easily pay from $45,000 to $60,000 and even more for these 55 T-Birds. We’ve seen them at $89,000. Lesser 55 Thunderbirds can be found from $10,000 to $30,000 depending on condition, originality, miles and any degree of restoration.

Reference material for this article included the Ford Motor Company Archives, Motor Trend Magazine, and the 1955 Ford Thunderbird Handbook.

(Article and photos copyright 2015 Auto Museum Online)