In a strange twist of faith, it happened so that the 1964 Plymouth Barracuda was the very first of the ‘compact’ pony-cars on the market, as it hit the showrooms a scant two weeks before the Mustang did. The rest, however, did not go as well as for the Barracuda as they did for the Mustang. The Ford pony outsold the Plymouth by a ten-to-one ratio, largely due to the fact that the Mustang was a new design, and everyone could see that the Barracuda was a prettied up version of the Valiant, the very bottom of the Plymouth line. Regardless, the Barracuda was a fine looking car, with a fastback roof and straight, clean lines.
The most powerful of the early Barracuda, or ‘Cudas as they came to be known, featured a 4.5-liter small-block V8 that developed 235 horsepower. While that wasn’t enormous by standards of the day, it was enough to push the Barracuda to a top speed of 110 miles per hour, and an impressive 0-60 acceleration of a hair over 8 seconds.
Later models distinguished themselves from the Valiant through styling and other options, and by all measure, the 1964 Plymouth Barracuda was a great ‘little’ car. Unfortunately for it, it will always be remembered and seen in the Mustang’s immense shadow.