Mo’ doors, mo’ problems
No hard proof exists to say that Chrysler intended to build a four-door E-body in the early Seventies. For that matter, no hard proof exists to say that Chrysler didn’t, either. Dave Walden, however, believed in the idea so much that he decided to build a 1970 Plymouth Barracuda with two extra doors more or less from scratch. The resulting car, the only known four-door Barracuda in the world, will soon come up for auction.
According to the blog that Walden kept to document the car’s build, he had already finished a few factory-correct restorations of other muscle-era Mopars and pony cars and was looking to do something different for his next project. In September 2010, he came across a rendering of a bluish-gray four-door Barracuda—Walden didn’t specify whether it was a factory rendering, so it very well may have been one of Aaron Beck’s E-body photochops, which Beck had posted in March of that year—and subsequently decided that the rendering needed to become reality.
Fleshing out the idea
Beck’s vision specified a Barracuda—not a ‘Cuda, which would have been a bridge too far, even for a photochopper accustomed to altering reality—powered by a 383 under a flat hood and fitted with redline tires on steelies with pie-pan caps. (For what it’s worth, he also included a four-door Barracuda woodie station wagon and even a two-door Challenger hearse in his collection of renderings.) More significantly, Beck also decided his what-if four-door Barracuda deserved a pillarless hardtop treatment. Walden decided to take the build in a slightly different direction, envisioning a pillared sedan with a rally hood, Gator Grain vinyl top, and Lemon Twist Yellow paint.
To determine just how the four-door Barracuda could be built, Walden consulted with metal shaper Steve Been. The two determined that, rather than start with an existing E-body shell, they needed to base the car on a four-door car, specifically a 1971-1974 B-body Dodge Coronet or Plymouth Satellite. They found a stripped 1972 Coronet four-door in Clay Kossuth’s Mopar salvage yard and decided to build upon that car’s roof, A-pillars, B-pillars, and partial rockers.
In researching what they’d need to build the car, Walden said they came across a tantalizing bit of hearsay. “[Steve] stumbled across an article written by Roger Johnson,” Walden wrote. “We didn’t know who Roger was and had never spoken with him at that time. In the article, Roger described a red four-door Barracuda parked on a loading dock behind the Highland Park Chrysler Headquarters. This occurred sometime in early fall of 1969.” Johnson, a mailroom employee for Chrysler, couldn’t provide photos, documentation, or any further context for his sighting, but the report boldened Walden, who decided to alter his plans for his four-door Barracuda to reflect Johnson’s recollection as much as possible.
(A brief article in the October 1969 issue of Mechanix Illustrated mistakenly—or perhaps not—reported that the upcoming 1970 Plymouth Barracuda would be available in convertible, two-door hardtop, and four-door hardtop body styles. Walden also pointed to proposed four-door Camaros and Mustangs to defend the idea as not so outlandish.)