Next Project…Decisions…Decisions

Numerous posts and newspaper articles speculating that Chrysler is on its last legs have made me think about what I will do when there are no more Mopars to buy. I’ve driven nothing but, since 1955, and I intend to keep driving them until I can’t drive anymore.

The choice seems to be that I buy another new car and put it in storage until the ones I have are worn out, or to restore a car I want and keep my current cars in the garage except for special trips. Chrysler hasn’t built anything in the past 10 years that gets me excited enough to restore, so a recent model isn’t in the cards, which makes an older Mopar my choice.

The restification would be quite extreme, as I would want it to have most of the modern goodies that have spoiled me over the years, and since it would be a daily driver, it would have to be fuel efficient, safe, and comfortable to drive. It would also have to be interesting and attractive enough that I could take it to a car show. I don’t do any racing, so the performance level I want is available in a 318 with a 4bbl, an RV cam and aluminum intake.

Off the top of my head, I’ve narrowed the choice down to two cars, but haven’t yet ruled anything out. They are a ’64-’66 Barracuda, or a Aspen/Volare station wagon from the later non-rust prone years.

The station wagon has some nice features, including more space for traveling, but it’s also fairly heavy and burdened with emission crap. I love their looks, and it would be fun restoring one with a 5th Ave interior and some other Chrysler exterior trim. They also can be had with factory goodies like disk brakes, power windows, power door locks, and power seats, which would have to be retrofitted to a Barracuda.

The Barracuda is light and attention-getting, but interior space is lacking. The good part is that mechanical upgrades would be pretty much a bolt-in, and it would get great gas mileage with a later version 318 and an overdrive transmission.

Mechanical parts are still available for both models, but I think it’s going to become difficult to find suspension parts for the wagon. Some repro sheet metal for the Barracuda is beginning to show up, which the wagon will never see. It would be at the mercy of what could be found in wrecking yards. Despite being older, I think it will be easier to find parts for a Barracuda a few years down the road.

No matter which model I choose, the goal is to build a car that can compete with a new car of equivalent size for comfort, reliability, performance and economy. That means I'd use the price of a loaded 2010 Sebring as the target budget for my restification.

I know I’m rambling, but the idea intrigues me and I need to bounce it off others who might be prone to share my lunacy. Have any other hardcore pentastar people had similar thoughts about what they would do in a Mopar-less future?
Author: GaryS