Chip off the Mopar block: 1968 Plymouth Barracuda
May 13, 2013
It's not often a 16-year-old owns a 1968 Plymouth Barracuda. It's practically unknown for that same youth to have spent two years restoring it, doing the work himself.
That rare individual is Nevada Union High School student Shawn Jordan. Sure, he had advice, mentors who told him the best way to do the work, but his hands turned the wrench. Just like his dad, Brian, a former professional mechanic, Shawn is a hands-on Mopar-loving wrench turner.
The story begins 10 years ago when Brian found a '68 Barracuda fastback for sale that had been sitting in a field for 20 years. It was in rough condition with a cracked engine block and rotting interior but had possibilities.
Most importantly, it was rust-free and had no serious body damage and all the chrome and emblems were still there. For a car that old, these were key factors, so he bought it. However, Brian had other projects, so the Barracuda sat until two years ago when Shawn bought it from his dad.
Now you might think Shawn would expect his dad to do most of the work to put the Barracuda back on the road.
Not so. In fact, he made rebuilding and hot-rodding a 1972 Chrysler 360 CID engine his eighth-grade school project. I reiterate, his eighth-grade project!
Under the mentoring of Mopar-maniac Len Sole, Shawn built it into a bored and stroked 408 CID fire-breather. With high-performance 340X heads and exhaust, it breathes freely.
To be able to use lower octane gas, he polished and ported the heads and the intake manifold. Space forbids listing all the details of Shawn's incredible rebuild, but it would impress any gearhead.
Under his dad's mentoring (Brian's term), Shawn swapped out the automatic trans for an A-833 four-speed with a Hurst shifter. He went through the brakes, installing a new master cylinder, then installed an aluminum radiator and an MSD ignition.
The suspension needed some work, so he installed front and rear sway bars, as well as replaced the shocks and rear leaf springs. After having Firm Feel rebuild the steering box, it handles like a sports car. Lastly, Shawn upgraded the stock 7 3/4-inch rear end for an 8 3/4-inch one with 2.76:1 gears that can easily be changed to 3.55:1 Sure-Grip (Chrysler's version of Posi-Traction).
"Mentoring" is not doing the work but explaining how to do it. Shawn did all the work himself. On his own, he redid the front buckets, headliner, carpet and dash, including rebuilding the gauges.
And then there are the Mopar aluminum-lettered black valve covers. His dad noticed them missing from his pickup one day and found them on Shawn's Barracuda. There was no attempt at deception on Shawn's part, so Brian let him keep them.
Roamin Angels were so impressed with his car that they awarded him their "Young Guns" trophy at their car show a couple of years ago. However, since he and his dad are now members, he can no longer win a trophy at the club's Cruisin' the Pines car show this September. But it's worth it to Shawn. To him, cars are more about driving than showing.
Brian likes to take Shawn and his brother on 2,500-mile runs in their classic cars. Two years ago, Shawn's Barracuda was just finished the day they set off for Seattle and Olympia, but it came through fine — a testament to Shawn's craftsmanship. Last year, they went to Yellowstone. And this year? Ask Shawn.
What's next for the Barracuda? Shawn shrugs and grins.
"Well, I want to put on front disc brakes. And I want lower profile tires and wheels, but I'm going to have to change to a wider bolt pattern for that. I'm saving up for headers. Then there's the body and paint. Lots of body work and sanding," he said.
And if there is any 16-year-old on earth who can do it all, it's Shawn.
For more about Ron Cherry and his writing, see http://www.rlcherry.com. For more information about the Roamin Angels Car Club, visit http://www.roaminangels.com, call 530-432-8449, write to Roamin Angels, P.O. Box 1616, Grass Valley, CA 95945, or just stop by IHOP on Taylorville Road some Friday at 6:30 a.m .for breakfast.