Home-built pro touring 1972 Barracuda

Believe it or not, Brendan Turner built this stunning '72 Barracuda pro tourer

Photographers: Chris Thorogood

We were just as stunned as you probably are now when we first laid eyes on Brendan Turner’s beautiful ’72 Plymouth Barracuda. Especially once we learned that, despite the build quality and finish, this wasn’t a big-dollar workshop project built to take silverware at Australia’s premier car shows. “I never built it to be a show car like that, which is why it was never unveiled at one,” Brendan says. “I just built it at home on my own, with the idea of making it a tidy cruiser I could enjoy in my local area on the weekends.” Brendan’s love affair with Mopars and building cars was fostered early on as a child of a motoring family. “My dad was a development engineer for Ford, but before that he did 11 years at Chrysler,” he says. “The rest of the family was Ford, so I went the other way with Chrysler.”

First published in the July 2022 issue of Street Machine

After owning a Chrysler coupe and a ’69 Plymouth Fury, Brendan decided he wanted an E-body Mopar in his life. “We found this ’72 ’Cuda in nice nick in Wyoming, USA, so I had it imported with help from American Hemi Speed Centre,” he explains.

The coupe they found was in top-notch shape, but it still didn’t take fitter and turner Brendan long to find a reason to pull it apart. “When I got it, I took it for a drive around the block and found the factory brakes were pretty poor,” he says. “So I pulled it into the garage to start what was meant to be a quick freshen-up. It wasn’t long until I was building a rotisserie for it!”

That wasn’t due to the car having hidden nightmares, but rather Brendan’s desire to turn it into an immaculate pro tourer. “I had it blasted and we only found a few specs of rust, so it was a really solid shell to start with,” he says. “The pro tourer scene was really starting to gain popularity in the States at the time, so I decided I wanted to have that kind of look for this car.”

Because the ’Cuda shape is so good straight out of the factory, Brendan didn’t feel the need to reinvent the wheel when it came to the body. “I shaved the side markers and the mirrors because I hated the original ones,” he laughs. “The new mirrors are actually motorcycle ones I made my own brackets for, and I also smoothed the number-plate recess and changed the rear tail-light trim.” The graphics were also slightly altered, as Brendan wasn’t a fan of the original design.

As for the driveline, the decision to stick with a 340 small-block was an easy one. “It came with it and there really was no reason to go with anything else,” Brendan says. “They were a good thing with a good reputation in the day.” He had the bottom end assembled by the team at Maros Engines, who used the standard crank, Scat rods and DSS pistons. A Comp Cams hydraulic-roller stick gives the valves a workout in Edelbrock heads. “I had Maros do it all up to the heads, but I wanted to assemble the rest of the top end myself,” Brendan explains.

That turned out to be a solid call, because a bonnet clearance issue led him to the distinctive and very cool air cleaner you see now. “The bonnet wouldn’t close with the tall Indy manifold I had, and there was no way I was cutting up that bonnet; it’s one of the best things about the car,” he says. “So I dropped the engine down as much as I could and then started brainstorming a new low-profile air cleaner.” Some research led Brendan to the air intake used by the V10 in the Dodge Viper. “The Viper uses the same sort of design and I really liked the look, so I grabbed some metal and started playing around until I got what you see now.” Sitting underneath are dual-quad Barry Grant Street Demon carbs.

Brendan hasn’t yet had a chance to get the 340 onto the dyno: “That’s really not what the car is about anyway; I don’t plan on taking it racing or anything like that. So I’m not sure how much power it’ll make,” he says. “I more just care about how it drives than anything else.” Even so, the bonnet shakes around like an old-school muscle car, and the engine combo is a proven recipe, so don’t get the wrong idea – this thing has plenty of poke.

Backing up the 340 is a 727 auto with a 2500rpm converter, while the diff is a shortened Dana 60 with street-friendly 3.54:1 gearing.

Just like the rest of the car, Brendan tackled the interior re-trim himself. “You can buy the seat covers brand new, so all I had to do was unpick the old ones and put the new covers on,” he says.

Brendan had only recently finished putting the ’Cuda together when we put it in front of ace snapper Chris Thorogood’s lens. “When we took it out with Chris for the rolling shots, it was really the first time I’ve ever driven it more than just around the block,” he says. “I was nervous, but it drove really well.”

With the car now done, Brendan plans on cruising it around his local area on Victoria’s Surf Coast. “There’s a really cool car scene down here, and when I was building it, I was envisaging cruising it on the coastal roads around here, so I can’t wait to just use it and enjoy it.”


Paint: PPG Inferno Red Crystal Pearl
Brand: Chrysler 340
Induction: Indy manifold
Carbs: Dual-quad Barry Grant Street Demon
Heads: Edelbrock
Camshaft: Comp Cams hydraulic-roller
Conrods: Scat
Pistons: DSS Racing
Crank: Standard 340
Oil pump: Mopar Performance
Fuel system: Carter Super Street mechanical pump
Cooling: Alloy radiator, twin thermo fans
Exhaust: Sanderson block-hugger headers, twin 3in system, 21⁄2in tailpipes
Ignition: MSD leads & coil, Pace Performance dizzy
Gearbox: Torqueflite 727
Converter: B&M 2500rpm stall
Diff: Dana 60, Eaton LSD, 3.54:1 gears
Front: QA1 adjustable coil-overs
Rear: Gabriel shocks, lowered leaf springs
Brakes: Wilwood four-piston (f), PBR single-piston (r)
Master cylinder: Wilwood
Rims: Intro V-Rod; 19×8 (f), 20×10 (r)
Rubber: Bridgestone 245/40R19 (f), Goodyear 295/40R20 (r)

Dom Stillitano; Tommy Rixon; Steve at Steve Dolphin Smash Repairs; Peter at South West Automatics; my mum and dad; my wife Marella and kids Matty, Jamie and Emily