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GRAN TURISMO CAR REVIEWS

1971 Plymouth Barracuda Six Pack

orange_cuda.jpg

SPEX

Year: 1971 
Class: Muscle Car
Type: 2-door hardtop
 
Country: USA
Host: GT2 & GT4

Price: $24,140 (GT2), $53,360 (GT4)

Construction: unit steel
Length: 189.6" // Width: 71.8" // Height: 51.4"
Wheelbase: 108.0"
Overhang: @6 feet 7 inches
Track: 60.2" [F] 60.6" [R]
Ground Clearance: 6.7" (GT2), 6.3" (GT4)
Weight: 3,591 pounds (GT2) 3,473 pounds (GT4)

Steering: unassisted recirculating-ball
Turns lock 2 lock: 3.500
Turning Circle: 38 feet
Layout: front engine / rear-drive
Tires: 14 x 5.5" (this probably varied by model, tho)
F. Suspension: unequal-length control arms, torsion bars, anti-roll bar
R. Suspension: live axle, leaf springs
Brakes: disc (optional)/drum

GT2 Engine: 340 cubic-inch OHV V8
GT4 Engine: 440 cubic-inch OHV V8

Aspiration: natural
Construction: iron block & heads
Fuel System: 3 dual-barrel carbs
Valves / Cyl: 2
Bore x Stroke: 4.04 x 3.31" (340), 4.32 x 3.75" (440)
Compression: 8.5:1 (340), 10.5:1 (440)

```````````````````GT2-340ci```````````````GT4-440ci````````
Stock HP: 293 @ 5,000 rpm      384 @ 4,600 rpm
Stk Torqe: 352 @ 3,000 rpm      480 @ 2,300 rpm
 
Credits / HP: $82.39                      $138.96
Pounds / HP: 12.26                         9.04
Hp per liter: n/a                              53.0

Idle Speed:                                       500
Redline:   6,500                                 6,000
RPM Lmt: 7,000                                6,500

Transmission: 4-speed manual
Differential: probably open in game. limited-slip was optional in real-life

``````````````````````GT2``````````````````````````GT4```````
0-60 mph: 6.3 seconds               5.766 seconds
0-100 mph: 17.7 seconds           12.300 seconds
 
1/4 Mile: 14.919 @ 95 mph        14.664 @ 104 mph
1 Kilom: 24.190 @ 121 mph      26.021 @ 118 mph

 
Test Track: 1:56.599                        no test

100-zero: no test                         4.12 seconds

Top Gear RPM @ 60 mph: 3,200 (GT4, 440ci)

340 ci Top Speed at Redline (GT2)
1st: 54 mph
2nd: 75 mph
3rd: 99 mph
4th: 135 mph @ 6,600 rpm  

440 ci Top Speed at Redline (GT4)
1st: 49 mph
2nd: 68 mph
3rd: 88 mph
4th: 121.30 mph @ 6,500 rpm (tach limited)

green_cuda.jpg

-------------EXTERIOR/ HISTORY-----------------

Look out! Come back from the surf! There's a school of Barracudas swimming about, and they're out for blood!

Not only does this car possess those over-the-top American looks, intimidating to any Celica or Rabbit that dares to cross its path; the Plymouth Barracuda is just bad ass....a 10 out of 10 on the bad-ass meter. It also reminds me of all those druggy, backstabbing losers I went to high school with. Most of them aspired to have a car just like the Barracuda, but more than half wound up taking mom's hand-me-down Dodge Dart or Toyota Tercel instead.


The Barracuda had quite a history, even though its years were short. There were three generations which lasted from 1964 till 1974. Obviously, the cars in our game are from the third and final generation. Their distinctive shape is known as the "E-body".  E-body Barracudas are the ones that really had their own look and design, unlike earlier versions from the previous two generations. I have an idea...let's go back to the beginning....

The original Barracuda from 1964 was marketed as a "compact"....a personal car, just like the Mustang. The Barracuda was based on the Plymouth Valiant, a sedate sedan in production since 1960, but was meant to be more aggressive of course. It is little known that Barracudas appeared on the American market 2 weeks before the debut of the Mustang. Despite this, Mustangs from 1964 and the following year of 1965 outsold Barracudas by like 8 to 1. 

During its ten-year run, the Barracuda was not one of Chrysler/Plymouth's greatest sellers. Overall sales for the Mustang in 1964 and '65 were about 680,000. Compare that to "just" 88,000 Barracudas. Part of the reason (unofficially) for this huge displacement in sales was the fact that the Barracuda was designed heavily from the Valiant. Imagine taking an automobile, selling it a few years, crafting a similar design from the old one while trying to pass it off as something buyers should be interested in, and there you have it. Sure, Plymouth probably saved some retooling money by sharing parts & assembly; but so far as the public goes, nobody was fooled apparently.

The biggest difference between these cars (Valiant versus Barracuda) was the Barracuda's fastback rear, which had one of the largest pieces of glass ever to be used on a production automobile. But otherwise, buyers who had a chance to get a new car in 1964 and '65 must have been easily swayed by the Mustang, which truely was a brand-new design not based on something already extant. Since early Barracudas were taller than 'Stangs, and didn't truely possess their own identity, this is part of what hurt their sales. The Mustang's top-line 289cid V8 was also more powerful than the Barracuda's 273. Over the next 5 years, the Barracuda's look didn't change much, and Plymouth never achieved as great of sales as Ford, though the Barracuda did take on a racier appearance. Both cars eventually got larger engines and more options, as the great '60s musclecar war was on.

In 1970, the Barracuda finally got a full makeover. But by then, the end was near. 1971 is the year from which the cars in both GT2 and GT4 are plucked. There were three basic versions of the Barracuda by now: a base hardtop coupe, of which 9,459 were sold, the more luxurious Gran Coupe hardtop, of which 1,615 were sold. And finally, there was the top-performance  'Cuda hardtop, of which 6,228 were sold. So in total, that makes just 17,302 coupes for 1971. Dismal. There was also a Barracuda convertible, which was  even weaker in the sales department (374 cars). Anyways, the point here is that a Barracuda from any year is a rather rare automobile.

This has alot to do with why Barracuda prices rose about 30,000 credits from 1999 (GT2) to 2004 (GT4). But actually, the cars in our games are steals compared to what's going on in the market today. Rare-optioned convertible Barracudas, for instance, have sold for over 2 million dollars at recent auctions! Oddly, some mint-condition Barracudas have become more expensive than hand-built Ferraris from the early '70s. What's up with that?
 
You would think that with this kind of money being tossed around, people are after some sort of super-performance Godmobile. Not so. On top of poor or mediocre sales, the Barracuda also had some serious design flaws; mainly, there wasn't much engine space. This was fine for the Valiant (which had smaller powerplants), but Barracuda owners with V8s under the hood from 1964 till 1970 had to make it around without help from a power-steering system due to lack of available space. These cars also didn't have air-conditioning, even as an option. The power-booster required to have a front disc brake system on the performance cars from this era would have also been too big to fit under the hood, so they went with front drums.

Anyways, with the new E-body, Dodge and Plymouth hoped to solve these issues, but couldn't fix them all. This new Barracuda was a bigger car, and a faster one as well (assuming one ordered one those big blocks). The larger size meant that a bigger engine could be used without sacrificing space for power-steering, A/C, and other such features; although if one ordered one of the biggest blocks (the 426 hemi or 440), they'd again have to do without these niceties.

So far as racing goes, it's too bad Plymouth got into SCCA's Trans-Am at this point (in 1970). During this year, there were about 1,500 special All-American Racing (AAR) 'Cudas made for street use, as well as some larger AAR Dodge Challengers. The infamous Dan Gurney was one of Plymouth's main sponsored drivers for 1970. Despite this, the 'Cuda never actually won in the Trans-Am, though it did place 2nd at Road America. Chevy's Camaro Z/28 and Ford's Mustang Boss 302 had been circuit racing longer than the AAR, and therefore had more progress, despite the fact that Plymouth's Barracuda AAR had a larger 340 cubic-inch engine.  

Anyways, whether or not Plymouth had won in the Trans Am, things ultimately wouldn't matter. Slow sales, high insurance rates, government restrictions and (finally) the gas crunch of '74 killed this fish before it could really shine above its competition, even though the total number of cars sold with this platform (Duster, Roadrunner, and Barracuda) slowly increased between 1970 and 1973.

The small-block version of the 'Cuda from GT2 had the same engine size as the AARs in the Trans Am, although the 'Cuda in this game isn't an AAR. Matter of fact, Plymouth only built AARs for sale to the public in 1970 only. The car in GT4, with its larger engine, was more of a drag-racing machine; built for quarter-mile runs and stoplight stomps. Neither car seems to measure up to modern vehicles in our games at first; but truthfully, these cars can eventually compete and win lots of races in the right hands, provided the driver has some experience and knows how to tune & drive these monsters.

The Barracuda in GT2 comes in 6 colors, and features chrome detailing, fancy hood scoops, and other garish parts popular back in the day. If that wows you, wait'll you have a look at the Plymouth dealership in GT4, which has TWENTY-SEVEN different colors to choose from! When I went Barracuda shopping a few hours ago, it helped that I had over 2 million in the bank. I had trouble deciding which color I wanted, so I bought several!

 The body has no aerodynamic capability at all, the small trunk-mounted wing seems to do little more than add aesthetic value. One only has to look at the GT2  downforce values of .10 and .19 to figure this out. Average figures for this game usually look like: .12 asd .21. The 'Cuda  is also rather heavy, which is no surprise. Some weight can be taken off, but the minimum you'll acheive in GT2 will be 3,194 pounds. GT4 cars can be lightened much further to 2,883 pounds. Oddly, the GT4 car is lighter than the GT2 one even while both cars are stock, and even tho the GT4 car has the larger engine. No no no no no, PD!!!

If you buy one of these monsters, you'll have to rely on plenty of early braking and counter-steer to get past your competition. Thank goodness the engine is strong.



---------------------ENGINE / DRIVETRAIN------------------

So as you may have noticed after glancing thru the SPEX portion up above, PD has modeled two different Barracudas for our pleasure. One for GT2 and a different one for GT4. In real-life, a '71 Barracuda could be had with up to eight different engines!! Two were slant-sixes, the others were all (of course) V8s. Just two years afterward in 1973, this incredible display dwindled to just three possible choices; the 426 Hemi and 440 Magnum & Six Pack engines were among the first to go.

The car in GT2 has a small-block 340 cubic-inch, and in GT4 we have the enormous 440; the largest available motor for a 'Cuda. I think it's best (and most convenient) if we discuss each engine & car as it appears in each game.


GT2
In real-life, the 340 cid OHV V8 in this game-car came standard with three dual-barrel carbs that provided plenty of mid-range action, but rather poor top-end and low-end grunt. Though the gearing is short, the engine torquey and strong, this is not the fastest muscle-car in GT2 by any means. The mile in just over 14 seconds; 1 kilometer is passed in 27 seconds.

...If I may, I'll just take a moment here to congratulate PD. The quarter-mile figures (in both GT2 and GT4) are almost exactly what was reflected from real-life testing.  Good job guys and gals. 

Anyways, from 120 mph on up, speed really drops off unfortunately, which is also something reflected accurately from real-life. 4th gear is rather tall...the car never hit its 7,000 rpm limit around the test track, oddly; reaching a top speed of 137 mph @ 6,600 rpm. After driving many American cars from this era in GT2, muscle and non-muscle, it's nice to find one that finally can be throttled all the way to its final speed without maxing out in revs, but the cause of this is obviously the fact that at these higher RPMs, the 340 is way past its peak-horsepower prime. In other words, it may be creating 293 horsepower at 5,000 rpms while stock, but by the time the revs have climbed to 6,600, less than 200 are being created.

The 340 cubic-inch OHV V8 is considered a small block by American standards, yet is still gigantic when compared to a lot of cars from other countries built during the same era. It weighs less than some Chrysler power-plants, but this car is still hampered by front-end understeer, so watch your speed thru the corners (especially longer ones, which are the ones that can fool you).

Gears can be shifted at around 6,000 rpms with a fully-modified motor, which will actually give a slightly better top speed than if you let it red-line, since this engine creates most of its power in the 3,000-5,500 rpm range. This is that "past-prime" thing I was just talking about. Max HP is 443 @ 5600 rpm, torque is 431 ft-lbs. @ 4,600 with all modifications in place, which is actually a bit lower than some other '60s & '70s-era muscle, but nothing to cry about. True, it's possible to tweak a 340 beyond these numbers in real-life, but is it really necessary for anything other than acceleration runs in our game? Never mind. I guess it is. Oh well. 

The stock engine/exhaust sounds great in this game, and the pound / HP ratio ranges anywhere from 12.26 to just over 7.00, depending on the level of modification we're dealing with. Close gearing isn't needed with this car...go for the racing gearbox instead, or use street gearing if the car is lightly modified (below Stage 1, that is).


GT4
Forgot to mention this earlier. Notice the 'Cuda hood, which has a center piece more beautiful than any floral arrangement I've ever seen. Standard Barracudas had a flat hood, but the 'Cuda had this scoop, which was functional in real-life.

There were "shaker" hood scoops, so named because of their habit of shaking around as one revved up the motor. Shakers were standard on Hemi-equipped 426ci models, but optional on all other 'Cudas, and were designed to suck air straight into the intake manifold. I'm not sure if they're supposed to be installed on our game-cars or not. I have yet to see my 'Cuda's hood scoop shake at all. 

Engines with non-shaker hood scoops merely allowed air passively into the top of the engine bay, but not directly into the intake. At least they were functional, though! Any other vents or passages found on the 'Cuda (excluding the grille), are dummies, unfortunately.

Anyways, there were two basic 440 engine packages: the Magnum had a single 4-barrel carburetor, and the 6-Pack had (as I said before) three twin-barrel carbs. There was a difference of 375 gross-rated horsepower for the Magnum vs. 390 for the 6-pack. We get to play with the 6-pack once again. Also, notice peak torque on your tuning dyno graph, which resides at just 2,300 rpms! Some modern cars (some Audis & Volkswagens come to mind) can make great low-end torque with smaller engines, but they're relying on computer air/gas mixing technology & tweaking to do so. Well in the 440 6-Pack, there are no tricks, no gimmicks. Just good old-fashioned engine displacement. Bore and stroke. 

...This is something you can rely on during races. Rev low and slow to get the best shove out of corners, folks; that's where the 440 likes to be.

 With the 440, the only thing that's needed to watch for is the expected massive wheelspin which happens when accelerating from a dead-stop. Otherwise, this engine lifts thru the tachometer so smoothly, so effortlessly, you barely even notice as 30...60...80...and finally 100 mph come and go! There are three NA kits and a supercharger available as well, with total maximum power equaling 691 bhp and 997 foot-pounds (supercharger) or 730 horsepower with 838 foot-pounds (Stage 3 NA kit). If that's not to please any muscle-car fans out there, I'm a Sesame Street-watching, Cookie Monster digging nerd.

The only problem with all this is the 4-speed manual transmission. Geared perfectly for quarter-mile runs, it's way too short in our game for any other situation. Unlike the GT2 car, the 440 manages to make it all the way to its RPM limit of 6,500 rpms, maxing at a disappointing 121.7 mph. You'll need a full-custom racing transmission (preferrably a manual), and you'll need to shift it early so that the engine catches that delicious swell of speed that shows up between 4,000 and 5,000 rpms.

But other than these issues, the engine itself is damn-near perfect.   

-------------------------CHASSIS / HANDLING--------------------------


Early in the spring of 1912, the Titanic made its famous half-journey across the Atlantic. Although equipped with three engines (each with its own propellor), the ship simply didn't have the braking ability to bring itself to a full halt in time. Nor did the Titanic have a rudder sized large enough for the quick, sharp manuevering necessary to avoid that iceberg.

...I guess you know where this is going...


TG2

The Barracuda has some of the worst handling ever. Big surprise, huh? 
 
It slides around the tracks while the body sloshes like a fattened cow, making this car prone to understeer, oversteer, and spin-outs. Stock spring rates of 2.1 and 1.8 kg/mm (GT2) and 2.2/2.0 (GT4) are set incredibly low. These are figures one would expect from a soft-riding Cadillac, perhaps. So what the car uses instead of springs to achieve a decent ride is almost 7 INCHES OF GROUND CLEARANCE!

To fix all of this, just get a semi-racing suspension so ride height of the car can be set manually. Or, go for a full-custom suspension -- boosting spring rates -- and setting rear rebound settings and stabilizers higher than the front to help keep the back-end of the car tight. It's also advisable to get slick tires (hard, medium, or soft will do, depending on your driving style and level of difficulty you're needing to tackle) once you get the car up to Stage 1 stats (@351 hp).

Use sport tires with a lightly modified car, and don't even think of ever using stock tires at any level, unless the car is needing to tackle the Muscle Car Challenges! Stock tires are not for serious GT racing. If you know how to power-slide and use oversteer to some advantage, you're on your way to a difficult but exciting ride.
 
The Barracuda had a heavy-duty torsion bar front suspension (typical of MOPAR performance autos of this time), with the expected live rear axle & leaf springs in the rear. Experienced drivers should also play around with a fully-adjustable limited-slip differential, keeping initial and acceleration settings mid-point, and leaving the deceleration rather low to keep the car from understeering massively while  braking.

If you can get this car set up right (and it's possible to do so, trust me), you'll find it can blow away many modern vehicles. The key is to learn how to get as much grip out of corners as you can without spinning. It can be done!


GT4
I expected the 'cuda in this game (with its gigantic 440 engine) to be extremely nose-heavy and understeery, and I wasn't disappointed (or actually I was disappointed ha ha...). It's like going back to the opening Titanic monologue of this chapter.

Brakes that seem as though they might have been useful back when the Model T was around. Understeer that requires NASA-calculating ability to avoid. A rear-end that feels completely solid...till that throttle is blipped,  and whatever rear tire happens to be inside is now displaying NHRA-type funny car behavior. You almost feel like you're sliding right off those bucket seats as you corner, with the mandatory '70s-era lower seat belt the only thing keeping you from flying out the nearest window!

Although the 'Cuda looks fantastic as it dips, sways, and zooms around, like some auto in a bad action flick; and it is somewhat fun to drive at times, it is also challenging to drive. At ALL times! Usually in a BAD way. Behind those swoopy, Starsky & Hutch replays we can create, there's a lot of work going on. Not all of it is pleasurable.

It is of interest here that real-life car magazines of the early '70s that drove the Barracuda (or even just the 'Cuda) often complained about the very things I've noted above. The tires this car was shod with while stock were apparently just a few steps above family-car quality; often a huge problem. Braking was also typically bad. The car in our game definitely has Mopar's front disc brake option...we can see these discs clearly while buying new rims from the Wheel Shop. Surely, if the car had front drums (even in our game), braking would be even worse, assuming PD modeled correctly.

But like the car in GT2, it is (amazingly) possible to turn the GT4 'Cuda into a better braking, better handling, slightly more docile machine (assuming power is kept near-stock). Like taking a bad-ass, wayward teen who's fast, loud, and rude, but also unsure and clueless in his efforts, and making him into the local track star. Then, you'll be able to really say: "Everybody out of the pool! Barracuda!!!"
      

cuda_tahiti.jpg

PROS-------------------------------------------------------
 
1). Loads of power and torque standard with either 'Cuda engine...the 340 small-block of GT2 or the 440 big-block of GT4.

2). The GT4 car accelerates with the ease of an afterburner. And the 340-equipped 'Cuda of GT2 follows not far behind.

3). Can be fully modified with 3 stages in either game. GT4 adds a supercharger. GT4's 440 cid V8 'Cuda can attain ridiculous amounts of power which will make any fan of muscle cars cry like weak little wimps.
 
4). Rumbly engine / exhaust sample. It'll do just fine.
 
4). Intimidating looks.

5). GT4's 'Cuda can be had in 27 different colors.

6). Cheaply priced in GT2 (for a '60s-era rarity).

7). GT4: one of those cars that's so photogenic, you'll find yourself addicted to Photomode all over again.

 
CONS---------------------------------------------------
 
1). Wide body + narrow track creates unwanted weight transferrence. Especially bad to race this car at narrow tracks.
 
2). Low spring rates / lots of body roll and understeer. Oversteer, wheelspin, poor traction and other rear issues also are part of the package.
 
3). Poor top-end speed with standard or close-ratio gearboxes, even though the power is good.
 
4). Heavy.
 
5). Bad choice (but tempting) for a beginner.
 
6). Tires are okay for straight-line acceleration, but not much else.
 
7). Body work offers poor aerodynamic value, even though it looks cool!  No racing kit in GT2.

8). Short gearing, especially for the GT4 car. 121 mph stock?? Also, those who don't know where to shift a 'Cuda tranny, or are using an automatic, are at a huge disadvantage even if great power is involved.

9). "Just" 450 horsepower available for the 340 cubic-inch car in GT2. Poor low-end grunt in this car, too.   

10). Once again. We have acceptable stock exhaust sounds, but not a good racing pipe sample? Ugh.

11). PD got those '60s-era brakes correct, though.

12). GT4: fuel-thirsty. In the 'Cuda's day of 30 to 40 cent per gallon gas, this didn't matter at all. In our game, it might.  
 

 
Published: June 24, 2004
Re-edited for GT4 content: March 18, 2009
 

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