604-cube 1973 Plymouth Barracuda

604 cubes in a street-driven 'Cuda

Photographers: Cristian Brunelli

This article on Wayne & Sue Grimmer’s Barracuda was originally published in the April 2004 issue of Street Machine magazine

DEFINE the ultimate street machine: Bad-arse performance, tough stance, a cupboard full of trophies and 100 percent street-driven. The non-Ford/non-Chevy you see before your eyes is one of those cars.

It’s a 1973 Plymouth Barracuda, and it’s the result of owner-builder Wayne Grimmer’s aim to have a genuine all-purpose street machine in his impressive stable of cars. While quietly understated, the car has some serious attitude, based on a minimalist less-is-more theme.

In the modern era of billet aluminium, large-diameter wheels, electronic fuel injection, engine management and wild graphics, the Grimmer Barracuda takes us back to our street-machining roots, to simpler times when men were men and the big three in Detroit were producing legendary factory hot rods, racecars for the street with large-cube motors, stick-shifts and a general absence of nancy-boy stuff like air conditioning, heaters, electric windows and radios.

Back in the 80s, Wayne had a thing for cars built in the style of Fuel Altereds of days gone by. In the early 90s, his passion switched to American muscle cars, leading to the purchase of a very rare 1968 big-block alloy-head L89 Camaro, which he later restored. He soon added a 1971 Plymouth Cuda and a 1970 Dodge Challenger T/A to his garage, all of which he still owns.

Yet it wasn’t enough. “I had always wanted an American muscle car I could show and drag race that was totally street legal,” says Wayne.

He bought the Cuda in California. It was in basic but rust-free condition, an excellent foundation for a top-quality build. “The car had its factory 318, so it wasn’t particularly collectable, which made it more than suitable to modify.”

The stock-as-a-rock exterior belies some serious chassis work and the menace under its bonnet – a 604ci Chrysler Hemi built by Ray Barton Racing Engines in Pennsylvania. Putting out 1047 horsepower at 6600rpm and 885ft/lb of torque at 5800rpm (on C12 race fuel), it’s one serious bruiser!

Wayne has stayed true with an all-Chrysler driveline, consisting of a well-sorted 727 Torqueflite built by West Auckland Engine Reconditioners and a Dyna 60 rear end.

All engineering was handled by famed Kiwi hot rodder and drag racer Terry Bowden, of Terry’s Chassis Shoppe. This included mini-tubs, a 12-point roll cage and fabricated chassis-to-frame connectors for added rigidity and a one-off engine plate to solid-mount the elephant motor. Terry also manufactured the stepped headers.

Sticking to the street sleeper theme, the interior is mostly stock refurbished stuff, apart from a brace of cool-as-muck VDO Pro Cockpit gauges. Given the investment in the engine ­– the specs box will make you swoon – we can forgive him that.

The Cuda has managed some 9.9sec shakedown quarter-mile passes at an impressive 130mph. “So far I have run nines with it spinning hard off the line and shutting off early,” comments Wayne. In short time, however, he is confident of getting it into the eights. Trick Wilwood four-spots avoid him slamming into the catch fence.

Wayne lets his car speak for itself, which it does loud and clear. You know you have it nailed when the car you built appeals to a wide audience, from street machiners to hot rodders and drag racers – even Joe Public. We should all be so lucky.


Featured: April 2004

Paint: Glasurit Sting Red with black graphics

Cool info: The specs on the big Hemi are the stuff Mopar dreams of made of: brand new OEM block, a set of heavily worked Stage V Millennium raised-port aluminium heads, stroker crank from LA Enterprises, Ray’s own rods, a set of 13.4:1 JE pistons and a roller cam. The single-plane intake manifold is also of Ray’s design and is topped by a Gary Williams 1180cfm Dominator carb four-barrel. Headers are stepped from 2¼in to 23/8in

Engine: Ray Barton 604ci Hemi
Gearbox: Torqueflite 727
Diff: Dana 60, 4.10 gears
Wheels: Weld Pro Star
Interior: Reupholstered seats, stock wheel; B&M Pro Ratchet shifter; VDO Pro Cockpit clocks