Most people are under the impression that the era of the “pony cars” started with the introduction of the Ford Mustang in the middle of April, 1964, but they have got it all wrong. Though the term was indeed built around the incredibly popular Mustang, a car that truly changed the face of the American automotive industry, another car that wound up in the pony car category was introduced before the Mustang. The Plymouth Barracuda was actually released on April 1st of 1964, making it the first true pony car.
For the 1969 model year the Barracuda was offered in a new trim package that was packed with some additional punch called the ‘Cuda. Plymouth set out to make the ‘Cuda the hottest pony car on the road and it was offered with a 340 or a 383 ci engine initially, and these were certainly not designed for the proverbial little old lady from Pasadena.
However, the granddaddy of them all was the 1969 ‘Cuda with the 440 cubic inch OHV V8 and four-barrel carburetor. This was the largest engine available in any pony car at the time, and in fact the engine took up so much room the car could not be offered with power steering or power brakes. The behemoth under the hood could propel the ’69 ‘Cuda 440 from zero to sixty in just 5.6 seconds, and it could get a quarter mile in 14.01 seconds, reaching a speed of 104 miles per hour in the process. The 1969 ‘Cuda 440 sold for $3,900 brand new.
The ‘Cuda returned to production in 1970 as a high performance variation of the Barracuda in its own right rather an option package and would remain in production through the 1974 model year. The entire Barracuda line was discontinued after the ’74 models were released, making them rather hard to find these days. And speaking of scarce, if you run across a 1969 ‘Cuda 440 you may want to take a picture: just 340 of them were built.
Contributed by Fossil Cars Staff Writer