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Vintage Mopar Performance

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October 24, 2014

Vintage Mopar A-Body Performance

Mopars have been a part of my life for almost as long as I can remember. The first new car I remember my parents buying was a 1973 Dodge Crestwood station wagon. Several times a year we would drive it to Sacramento to visit my grandparents. The first car I fell in love with was a metalic Lime Green Challenger that I saw in Sacramento. At the time I wasn't even interested in cars, but that one really caught my attention - I had never seen anything so cool in my entire life. I learned to drive in the Crestwood. At the time, I hated driving a station wagon, but now I wish I still had it. The heart will beat again someday though - I still have the engine sitting in my garage, waiting to be rebuilt and blueprinted. My own first car was a 1970 Barracuda - another car I should have held on to. After the Barracuda, I drove a 1973 Duster until it was T-boned by a drunk driver. After that, I drifted away from Mopars for a long time.

When I got married, my only vehicle was an old Chevy pickup with manual steering and brakes - not suitable for my petite wife to drive. We started looking for a car for her to drive. We were pretty much broke at the time, so we needed something under $1000. While I wasn't looking specifically for a Mopar, we ended up buying a 1964 Valiant station wagon. It's the car I used to teach her to drive. Soon after, she decided it was "too ugly" to drive, so we got her something "less ugly" (but also less reliable). I talked her into letting me keep the Valiant, though, so it sits in my garage, awaiting better days.

After a few years, we decided to find something "less ugly" than the Valiant and more reliable than the Oldsmobile wagon my wife was driving. Again, we weren't specifically looking for a Mopar, but the car we found that we could afford turned out to be a 1966 Barracuda. After a complete front end rebuild it turned out to be a pretty good driver, but I never could get the engine to run right (carb problems) so we eventually got my wife a Corola - but kept the Barracuda. It sits in my garage next to the Valiant, waiting together for better days...

Well, the better days are coming soon. I have a green light from my wife to fix up the Barracuda this year, and she's agreed to a budget of $15K. That is abouit what I think it will cost to rebuild the engine, replace the rear end, upgrade to front disk brakes, get new rims and tires, and fix up the interior. The paint actually looks pretty good, so it won't need that for awhile. I won't be doing anything major with the Valiant this year, but I will get it running, aquire an engine core, and get a fancy set of rods and pistons. It will be my daily driver while I work on the Barracuda. Once the Barracuda's done, I'll use it as my driver and start working on the Valiant.

This site is the journal of my two Mopars. These early A Bodies are fun to work on and are some of the few Mopars that are still affordable. They present some challenges compared to later Mopars though, such as lack of parts, cramped engines bays, etc. There is some information floating around on the web, but a lot of it is inconsistent or outdated. I hope to rectify that with this site. Enjoy your visit. I hope you find the information useful.

Updated January 17, 2009

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