Top Gear Barra CUDA 1970

This is the Barra-powered drift ’Cuda that we never knew we always wanted

Barra ’Cuda© Provided by Top Gear Barra ’Cuda

This is Speedkore and Abimelec Design’s idea of a joke…

No, not the concept of a Seventies muscle car with pre-preg carbon-fibre bodywork and Rotiform/Hoonigan wheels, the idea for a modern engine swap, or the intended purpose of maximum drift at maximum angles of attack. The joke is right there in the name: Barracuda.

‘But hang on,’ you might be thinking. ‘Wasn’t this third-gen Plymouth already called the Barracuda when it was new, back in 1970?’

And yes, it was… but also no, it wasn’t. But this will all actually work out pretty swimmingly, so bear with us a bit.

Barra ’Cuda© Provided by Top Gear Barra ’Cuda

The regular Barracuda models were called – predictably enough – Barracudas. But high-performance models were just called ’Cudas. There were a few V8s on offer in the cheaper, regular Barracuda (it was America in 1970, after all), but if you went right down to the cheap seats, you’d get a six cylinder engine.

So now, by adding a turbocharged 4.0-litre straight six from Ford Australia – otherwise known as the Ford Barra engine – to what was originally a high-performance ‘Cuda, Speedkore has created its own sideways-happy pun. Wordplay might never get better.

We suppose that, if you wanted to pursue the ‘head downunder for engines’ plan – rarely a bad choice – there is actually an inline six-cylinder with ’Cuda-worthy performance, from about the same time period as the 1970 Barracuda, without having to defect to Ford. It’s even a Hemi, which is basically catnip to Mopar people. In fact, it’s called the Hemi Six, and was Chrysler Australia’s own development of a prototype engine from the mothership over in America. But unlike the 100 to 110bhp that Plymouth was getting from its 3.2 and 3.7-litre straight sixes, Chrysler’s Aussie outpost was getting more than 300bhp and 320lb ft from a 4.3-litre. But they’re something of a rarity now, generally wrapped in a piece of Australian muscle car folklore that’s worth squillions, and you don’t get to make the Barra-Cuda joke.

Barra ’Cuda© Provided by Top Gear Barra ’Cuda

Plus the Barra is pretty much everywhere in Australia – even taxis got them, tuned to run on LPG. In fact, the ‘green top’ taxi versions (and the factory turbocharged ones) are properly stout engines that can make serious power if one were to, say, start a build with a Barra as the base. The regular naturally aspirated ones are as well, but will need more non-factory parts to get to the same level, so the cheaper option is generally to start with the more expensive engine. Simple.

And while the singularly successful portmanteau name might be the joke, the punchline is one that makes you think. About a Barra-powered muscle car of your own, but hey, thinking is thinking…

Barra ’Cuda

Barra ’Cuda

© Provided by Top Gear

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