The key to buying a classic car is to know the history behind it.

The previous owner(s) are the gateway to a positive car hobby experience—this ’66 Barracuda is a classic example of how important the biography is to success.

Jerry Sutherland

Bruce Campbell is the proud owner of this car, but what really sold him was this—it was his high school teacher’s car back in the day, and he knew his teacher’s mother was the original owner. The Barracuda had been stored since 1985, so the car only has 31,000 original miles. Bruce spotted the car under a tarp in her garage, asked about it and found out the price “kept getting lower and lower”.

Bruce said the car hadn’t run since 1985, but he got the trusty slant-six running right away—after decades of hibernation. That reliability sold him on a vision for the car—go with the six-banger.

He had originally thought about going the big block route—he even had a 440 ready to install. The problem was he didn’t want to cut up such an original car to fit the big block between the fenders and a 360 posed the same problem. The answer was obvious—turn the slant-six into a raging beast.

Bruce focused on the more-power factor, so he built the slant-six with all the right parts like pistons, forged crank and a lumpy cam—plus a gated exhaust system. The results were spectacular. This is a 415-horse engine with 301 horsepower at the rear wheels. The original 904 automatic transmission was also built up to handle the massive new power band.  

The body was another factor in the project. It was in decent shape, but Bruce wanted to upgrade the paint, so he enlisted his son to bring the car back to a factory look. The paint is close to the factory dark turquoise, and it’s been laid down to perfection.

Bruce tried to run a cost-effective project, but the reality is off-the-beaten-path cars like a 6-cylinder ’66 Barracuda have a built-in cost factor because of their rarity. Things like the custom valve cover cost almost as much as what Bruce paid for the entire car. He offset some of the costs when he sold the factory console to another ‘cuda guy for a big price.

The car has a 4:10 rear end, so Bruce said he runs it at 3500 rpm on the road because the “cam starts to work at that point”. The racing fuel is pricey because this nitrous-boosted, high-compression, slant-six gets a fraction of the mileage a factory slant-six gets—but Bruce didn’t build it for economy. He built it to dominate V-8 guys at the track.   

Naturally, the car has bigger wheels to handle the extra power and Bruce found the perfect fit at the rear. Bigger tires rubbed, so he went a little smaller and folded in the rear wheel radius to handle the extra heft.

The end result is exactly what Bruce wanted because he said the car is “beautiful to drive”, plus he preserved the history of his teacher’s mom’s ’66 Barracuda.

It’s just a lot faster now.             

Jerry Sutherland

By: Jerry Sutherland

Jerry Sutherland is a veteran, award-winning, automotive writer with a primary focus on the collector car hobby. His work has been published in many outlets and publications, including the National Post, Calgary Herald, Edmonton Journal, Ottawa Citizen, Montreal Gazette, Saskatoon StarPhoenix, Regina Leader-Post,  Vancouver Sun and The Truth About Cars. He is also a regular contributor to Auto Roundup Publications.

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