Barracuda Formula S 1966  -1-
What went wrong?
Photo: Barracuda section of the Model Quest I showcase

This model is a plastic "promo" built at 1:25 scale and almost a "good" example of its kind. An "excellent" copy with a "very good" original box went for $150.00 on eBay in 2002. It was the third or fourth '66 Barracuda promotional model I bid on.

The others also closed well out of my range, $70.00 or higher, and they were just "very good". This one has a crack in the windshield, is missing one tail light, and the chrome on the bumpers is practically gone. It's good (and cheap) enough for me, even if it's not 1:43 and has no "Formula S" insignia or green interior.

I have a Model Builder's Club kit that will make a 1:43 Barracuda.   1965.   Red.
        ( Mistake:  it's 1:32 )
        ( I have an offer for the red one )
        ( I gifted it to a man who emailed to say he'd had a red '65 back in the day )
        ( If the   N E W  used 1:43 Sabra works out )
        ( It's on board. Not really a good model, but . . . )
        ( Actually, there are two, strangely expensive for the quality )
I do not want to build models, I want to buy them built.   Yes, I do.
I built models 1944 - 1964.   I'm over it.   Yes, I am.
        ( Not entirely, I guess; it's almost time to show my gold Corvair conversion )

I'm trying to remember why I bought the actual car. The concept was new and attractive: an inexpensive production-line "compact" with high performance hardware, a fastback that opened into the interior for a seven-foot lie-down space. It looked like this, had "Formula S" insignia on the fenders, and there were blue rings around the tires rather than white. Come to think of it, the front fenders on the photo look like '64 or '65 fenders, with that tell-tale Valiant crease up front. I think my model is more like it; it has the egg-crate grill . . .*

Out there in the racy world, one of the most exciting series ever—the TransAm—to identify with.

You can see some significant history, specifications, and production figures at Matt Phillips' site. Thanks to Matt for the interior photo.

I needed to move from all-sports-car and little-wagon to something more substantial. Geneva was growing. I had a friend in the business who could—did—get me an excellent deal.

Once I had it home I still liked it:

  1. Lots of oomph from the 4-barrel 235HP 273 V-8 (16.05 and 88.9 MPH at Carlsbad Raceway; beat in the bracket by a Hillman with a TR4 engine; beat at Tecate drags by a 396 Chevelle, in a hilarious story published as a Leditor To The Editor in Hot Rod magazine, some time between November 1966 and April 1967, I think)

  2. Pleasant high-performance noises (from the rectangular-tip exhaust and the vestigial air-cleaner with a specially designed wrapper—designed to enhance that hi-po sound at very little expense indeed)

  3. Good road-holding from the Goodyear Blue Streaks (nice time at a pre-slalom slalom in the Bullring-By-The-Sea parking lot [starts at about 2:40]; not that bad a ride after they warmed up from their square overnight bias-ply nylon shape)

  4. Comfortable ride (compared to a no-wheel-travel Austin-Healey 3000 and a short-wheelbase Morris Minor)

  5. Plenty of room inside (ibid.)

  6. Cheerful "Soft Yellow" exterior color (did I mention the avocado green interior? I pretty much avoid green in anything but nature) (BRG is not green; it's BRG)

  7. Fairly good miles-per-gallon (especially in Mexico, at 50MPH or lower as we tried to make it to a high-traffic filling station on the remnants of a tank of extra, extra-low octane "gasoline" I foolishly yielded to in the throes of a middle-of-the-night desert crossing in thoughtless disregard of the needs of the Baca Ruda's 10.5:1 compression ratio) (The strategy is, don't use more than about five gallons in a row without a fill-up)     
    >To Barracuda Page Two>>>

*[jeff kopp wrote to say he thought I should make it more clear that I realize the picture of a real Barracuda car ( . . . like this . . . ) is not a '66, but a '65 Formula 'S'.]

[Malcolm wrote to say: "I didn't know how deep you really were into the Cuda. This is my 6th one & hopefully the last. My Dad bought one new in '66 from my Uncle's dealership, & I was hooked. Lived in Irvine CA in the '70's, raced @ OCIR with a 66 "S" with a Paxton supercharger AND nitrous. Couldn't keep head gaskets in it. I have a NEW (never played with) Cragstan '66 in the clear plastic garage and 3 AMT "The Boss" 1/24th kits, 1 made into a slot car and a 1/32 Strombecker with no back bumper.

"p.s. I'm glad someone straightened you out on the yellow '65 photo . . ."

Malcolm also sent the perfect pictures, just like the ones I wish I had made of my '66 Formila 'S'—if you ignore the stripes:

Left front        Right rear        Grille        Engine   

Thanks a million, Malcolm.]

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