MARCH 27, 2014: HAPPY 50TH BIRTHDAY TO THE FIRST PONY CAR-THE BARRACUDA

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There are indelible memories in life and one of mine is the first time I saw a 1964 Barracuda.

 

I’ve talked about this before but this was a huge moment for a sixties kid.

 

There were two things about the Barracuda that really defined the moment for me.

 

The car and the owner.

 

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Shona, my oldest sister, was a nurse so she had a constant parade of female friends drop out to our family’s acreage and one of them was Rella.

 

My brother Jim and I were still a few years away from puberty but we both agreed Rella defined the kind of female we would call an all-star.

 

Rella was always a welcome sight so we both acted really goofy every time she came out to visit Shona but one day she showed up in a brand new ‘64 Barracuda.

 

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That was a ground-breaking event for two young gearheads with extremely limited life experience. Jim and I were well aware of the ’64 Barracuda because we’d dog-eared every one of my dad’s Popular Mechanics, Mechanix Illustrated, Science and Mechanics and Popular Science for months before its debut. The new car issues were the Holy Grail for car guys so we knew this Barracuda was coming months earlier.

 

This car was the perfect fit for Mopar-centric guys like Jim and me because it had a roof line that would rival the Sting Ray and it was sold through Plymouth dealers.

 

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There was little doubt Jim and I would eventually see a ’64 Barracuda in person but we did live a few miles out of town and the town wasn’t New York, so it probably wouldn’t happen for weeks or months.

 

Rella showed up in a brand new Barracuda a few days after the its debut on April 1, 1964. Talk about a blend of all that’s holy for guys because this goddess drove up in a car with god-like status for two country hick kids.

 

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Her family had a few bucks behind them so they were at the front of the line at the local Plymouth dealer when orders for the ‘64 Barracudas came on and Rella had the first one in the area.

 

I remember the car like it was yesterday but what really stood out was Rella’s lack of unbridled enthusiasm for her brand new ’64 Barracuda. She was pretty happy, but not off the chart happy about her incredible new car.

 

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Years would pass before I would learn that women are far more interested in color, not Torqueflite transmissions but Rella’s status did dip slightly in my uncluttered, adolescent world because she was relatively indifferent about the ‘cuda.

 

Lesson number one in a never-ending series of lessons about women…but Rella was still a hot-looking babe.That would never change.

 

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I realize the Mustang outsold, out-marketed, outlived and defined the term “pony car” but for me the ultimate pony car will be the one I saw weeks before the Mustang debuted.

 

It’s all because of Rella.

 

Jerry Sutherland

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