Removing the swagger from this fish’s tail




My little ’65 Barracuda has been a work in progress now for the last two years.

I’ve managed to get most of the of the undercarriage rebuilt in the last six months, thanks to the help of my good friends at Performance Suspension Technology here in New Jersey.

After thoroughly rebuilding the front end, thanks to a junked Plymouth Duster’s front discs and a myriad of parts from PST, the rear was tackled next. The donor 8¼-inch came out of a similar ’73 A-body, and was rebuilt over at the Wicked Performance shop, situated just off the beach in Point Pleasant, New Jersey.

This new rear would help reel in the power generated by my Paxton supercharged 360, the powerplant. Now, with a bulletproof posi-traction rear in hand, I was now ready to tackle the tail section of this fish, a job that will hopefully help transfer that horsepower to the pavement, and keep all fours planted firmly on the road.

The original stock suspension set-up was in very poor shape when I bought the car two years ago. Years of neglect had left the original springs sagging severely, and somehow augmented in shape, probably due to a wrecker who couldn’t take the time to correctly place a jack or hook. The shocks were replaced sometime during their life, being exchanged for a pair of ’70s style air shocks. These were definitely taking a quick ride directly to the dumpster and the Chevy rear now sitting underneath the car was just to aid it in rolling around the shop.

I definitely wanted to keep a vintage feel and look in the new ride’s tail end, though I needed to keep in mind that I was placing some upgraded 15-inch wheels, wrapped up in some bigger rubber, on the axles out back. No sway bar was present originally, but I have a feeling we would be adding a little more stability with a brand new piece. A good set of modern shocks will be the last step in getting the ride smoothed out behind the seats.

I stopped by the PST facility in Boonton, New Jersey, and talked to the friendly techs there about my plans for the ’Cuda’s tail section. We pulled a host of neat products off the shelves that will not only upgrade the back end, but will still keep that vintage look of a mid ’60s compact, musclar pavement scorcher. A set of Hemi grade leaf springs, a 7/8-inch pro touring grade sway bar, hardware, and some KYB shocks were on the list of upgrades for my little A-body.

Once I had my Dakota’s bed full of goodies, I hit the road to the Jersey Shore and the home of Wicked Performance, and it wasn’t long before the car was on the lift, coffee was brewing and the tools were ready. And this is how it all went down.