When you are a contributor to a magazine like Mopar Muscle, events like the Grand National Roadster Show (GNRS) are where you go prospecting for feature-worthy cars. The 2019 edition of the GNRS was no exception. While there were probably a dozen or more great feature possibilities, two stood out.
One was a 1966 Dodge Polara station wagon built by the crew at Hot Rods and Custom Stuff in Escondido, California. The other was this 1972 Plymouth Barracuda built by the artisans at Campbell Auto Restoration (CAR) in Campbell, California. Our colleagues at Hot Rod magazine beat us on the Dodge grocery-getter, but that was a blessing in disguise because less than 50 feet away was the bold green Barracuda featured here. Having traveled down from the Bay Area to Pomona, we knew that we had come across a very special car, one that speaks directly to the readers of Mopar Muscle.
The first thing that struck us as we approached the car was that something looked a bit different. With no classic E-body nearby for reference, it was hard to put our finger on it. We soon struck up a conversation with Kevin Long, one member of the team that built the car. We took some snapshots of the car, all the while thinking that there was a lot going on with it, from bumper to bumper. The snapshots were used in our 2019 GNRS coverage the week after the show and in our July issue. It didn’t take too long for Mopar Muscle Editor Bob Mehlhoff to give me the green light for a full feature.
This was made easier with Kevin’s cooperation. He explained in Pomona that the car was still a work in progress but it would be finished in time for the Good Guys Del Mar Show in April. Phone calls went back and forth between Kevin, Bob, and me. Bob decided that the car warranted a full photo session in the TEN Studio near LAX. In attendance, there would not only be Kevin but the car’s owner, Jason Johnson, who traveled from the East Coast for the shoot and the car’s featured display at Del Mar the following day.
Jason, whose father founded the Copart auto recycling empire, explained that the build of the Bare-Ah-Cuda spanned 10 years. He has owned many interesting cars over the years, starting with his first car, a 1981 Isuzu P’up pickup, but his first Mopar, and quite a significant one at that, was a Plum Crazy 1970 Challenger R/T 440 Six Pack, a car that he still owns in unrestored condition. Other significant Mopars include original B-Body Hemi cars, E-Body Hemi cars, 440 Six Pack Challengers, a 100-point ’Cuda clone convertible, several Mopar customs, Mopar resto-mods, pre-1975 Mopar trucks, and several significant Ford and GM classics along with several European exotics.
“It was always my favorite,” says Jason. “The car was born the same year as me. But when I acquired it was nothing more than an empty shell.”
Kevin picks up the story from when the car arrived at CAR. “The project was started in 2010, at which point the car came to us with the intent of having us do mainly the body and paint, as the Barracuda was already built out as a more traditional modified Mopar. It already had received a new K-member front suspension, four-bar rear end, and a fuel-injected, supercharged, iron-block 426 Hemi.”
But after the initial work was done, there was a change of plans. Kevin continues, “After Jason saw the type and the build quality CAR had to offer, he decided to change direction with the car and go more toward a Pro Touring style, as he already had a modified Challenger built out like the way the Barracuda came to us. From this point, the car was disassembled and parts inspected and evaluated, and a basic plan for the build was set forward. The starting plan was to reuse the 426 Hemi with improved suspension and braking, all attached to the factory unibody with improved fit, form, and function.”
As the project moved forward Jason decided that he would like to push the form and function of the Barracuda to the next level. This is the point when the project took a big change in direction, with CAR measuring out a new Art Morrison chassis to which they fitted Detroit Speed X-Gen front and rear suspension.
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LIVING LARGE WITH AN OLD-SCHOOL 426 STREET WEDGE DART
CAMPBELL AUTO RESTORATION COMBINES CLASSIC E-BODY STYLE WITH THE CAPABILITIES OF A 1970S GRAND TOURING COUPE. JASON JOHNSON’S 1972 BARRACUDA WAS BUILT TO GO HEAD-TO-HEAD WITH THE FINEST EXOTICS OF ITS ERA.
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