Petty '43'JR'Hemi Barracuda Street Clone

Discussion of the 426 Street / Strip HEMIs.

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Petty '43'JR'Hemi Barracuda Street Clone

Post by mart » Mon May 19, 2008 12:22 am

Constructing A Street Clone of Petty's '64'/'65
"43/JR." Hemi Barracuda Drag Car

I found this interesting article on the '1962
to 1965 Mopar' website
( )
detailing Pete Haldiman's cloning a modern
day' street version' of Richard Petty's '64/'65
"43/JR." Hemi Barracuda drag car. I've copied
and pasted the text of the article below, but
click on the linkto see the original article
complete with pictures.


January 2007 Mopar of the Month

Journey Through Hemiland — Petty’s
Barracuda: The Reason, The Real, The

by Pete Haldiman P.E.
(© version: December, 2006)

Part I — The Reason

“It was announced at Daytona a few days
before the 500 that Ford had listed a new
overhead camshaft 427 engine. NASCAR
requires that new engines or cars be listed
45 days before they may be run in
competition. NASCAR reportedly turned
down Ford’s overhead camshaft engine
with the explanation that it was
not a production engine and would cost
too much for the average person to buy.

What Ford’s retaliation to this will be, we
don’t know, but we do know they’ve been
busy.” From “Daytona Surprise Party” by
Ray Brock, Hot Rod, May 1964

On February 23, 1964 Chrysler’s 426 Hemi
made its racing debut at NASCAR’s Daytona
500. They did real good coming in 1, 2, 3.
Richard Petty won the race in his ’64 Plymouth.
In ’64 it was pretty much Ford versus Chrysler
as Chevy opted out of any official racing
activities in 1963. After Chrysler’s convincing
domination at Daytona it was Ford’s turn to up
the ante. As pointed out in the above article by
Ray Brock, Ford had applied to NASCAR to
have their SOHC 427 legalized even before the
Daytona race. NASCAR turned them down
immediately. It is difficult to comprehend Bill
France’s real motives. Some say he wanted to
lure Chevy back into racing so he didn’t want
Ford and Chrysler to get too much ahead of
them technologically. Then there is the obvious
fact that the “SC” in “NASCAR” stood for
“Stock Car” and Ford never had offered, built
or sold any SOHC cars to the public. Perhaps
ol’ Bill was worried about the escalating
speeds being too much of a hazard to the
drivers. Whatever the true reason France held
his ground. No Ford SOHC engines would be

By July of 1964 Chrysler had built and sold
nearly 175 426 Hemi equipped Dodge and
Plymouth B bodies. Yet somehow Ford’s
Moan and Groan Department had managed
to drag the Hemi into the fray. Ray Brock was
truly prophetic when he mentioned “Ford’s
retaliation.” Sure enough France began
thinking out loud that both the SOHC and
Hemi engines should be outlawed. NASCAR
was a privately owned monopoly so France
was God. Chrysler had to start weighing its
options. Should they continue racing the
wedge engines in 1965 or should they
withdraw altogether as Chevy had done.
Chrysler chose the latter publicly but was
probably lobbying continuously behind the s
cenes. Both Plymouth and Dodge had many
contracts with race teams, suppliers, ad
agencies, etc. NASCAR racing was a big
deal and the effort had a lot of momentum.
The Titanic could not stop on a dime.

Petty Enterprises of Randleman, North
Carolina had been in the Plymouth camp
for several years. Father Lee had won three
NASCAR championships and son Richard
was just about to win his first in 1964.
Should Plymouth fire the Pettys, offer them
positions on the assembly line or continue
to use their services at other racing venues?
USAC offered racing similar to what the
Pettys were used to. Apparently Plymouth
even considered the road racing series as
evidenced by the Hemi powered Mc Kee
car (recently restored by the way). With
the hot cars Detroit was starting to build,
drag racing was exploding in popularity.
Plymouth decided to stick with the Pettys
and make a very public move into drag
racing. Yes, “drag racing.”

Me, I’m not a waxer or a racer. I am much
amused at the Mopar National’s attempt to
create the perfect judging system. The “Over
Restored” / “Under Restored” debate is
pathetic. If this is all that cars are good for
you might as well have a Camaro. I’m into
the Chrysler Corporation for its Engineering,
history and moxie (and for those of you who
have read my Altered-Wheelbase booklet,
their Intentness). Chrysler had a cadre of
talented, enthusiastic people in-house who
could design and produce some really
interesting stuff. And what is most amazing
is that nearly every project was done with
rule books in hand. Yes, there were some
forays into pure engineering experimentation
but for the most part all activities were
focused on the goal at hand whether it was
NASCAR, NHRA or other. Almost all the
big ideas even made it to production. This
is a long topic which will end here. Suffice
it to say that I believe that Chrysler was
clever like a fox. The story of Richard Petty’s
Barracuda 43/JR is not simply the story of
another race car. It is not the story of a bunch
of shade-tree mechanics who got a good deal
on a used car and just happened to have a
Hemi for it. No, this was a big time power
struggle. Chrysler chose to stand toe to toe
with Bill France and thumb their nose at him.
“Look,” they said “the Pettys are going drag
racing. They don’t need NASCAR.” The ball
was then in France’s court. Should he believe
that Chrysler was serious or what. The game
was afoot, Watson.

By September 1964, Richard Petty had enough
points to guarantee him a NASCAR
championship. On October 6, 1964, the Pettys
had a Plymouth Barracuda in the shop. I believe
it was a used 1964, not a new ’65. The initial
work on the car was covered in many magazines.
All the photos are the same = Corporation photos.
See, Bill, how the work is progressing. Bill
would not relent. October 19, 1964 Bill France
officially outlawed the Hemi. (Note that in the
eight months between the February Daytona 500
and October 19, Ford sold exactly “0” SOHC
cars.) The Cuda was finished and making passes
by November. Richard put a bumper sticker on
43/JR which read “NASCAR, If you can’t
outrun ’em, outlaw ’em.” On the doors they
painted “Outlawed.” 43/JR was hauled across
country to the big AHRA drag race at Bee Line
in Arizona held on January 29-31 1965. The
AHRA was more than happy to have the
NASCAR Champion at its event and even had
a special class for home-built one-off cars
called “Super/Stock Experimental” or S/SX.
The Cuda turned a 10.38 and beat a 427
Chevy II for the class win. (Interestingly this
was also the debut of the Mopar 10"/15" cars
which were outlawed by the NHRA. Ronnie
Sox was low qualifier at 10.74 in his Plymouth.
Ronnie 10.74, Richard 10.38!) The Daytona
500 Ford Cruise was held on February 21,
1965 for some reason. There were no factory
backed Chryslers or Chevys. Bill France
could play hard ball. Unfortunately although
he did own some of the tracks, his organization
was still mostly the sanctioning body at other
people’s tracks. Those guys were pissed. This
was their livelyhood. Attendance dropped off
sharply at the all Ford events. Bill France was
forced to knuckle under. Chrysler had won the
game of chicken. Later in ’65 the Hemi was

While it was in force, NASCAR’s Hemi ban
affected both the Plymouth and the Dodge
Divisions of Chrysler. Plymouth and the
Pettys put on a well orchestrated and highly
publicized show but what was happening
over at Dodge? From the magazine articles
of the era you would gather that the major
Dodge team of Cotton Owens and their
driver David Pearson were also “busy
elsewhere” and didn’t need France’s money.
Super Stockers in Action of January 1965 had
a brief article on a match race held at Islip
Drag Strip in New York between Richard Petty
and Pearson. You could assume this probably
happened around November of ’64. Neither
team had their own car. Instead Richard
borrowed a ’64 Hemi SS Plymouth “The
Highlander” while David used Faubel’s
Dodge “The Honker.” Petty won the $1,000
prize. What’s interesting is that while the
Pettys would soon get 43/JR out (if it wasn’t
done already) the Owens team would not field
a “JR like” Dodge until April or May, 1965.
This was way too late to affect Bill France’s
thinking. By that time, I am sure, his thoughts
were not if he should lift the Hemi ban but
when. It seems that 43/JR was selected to
wage the psychological war with NASCAR
single handedly.

And this my friends, my Hemi Lover Friends,
has now become the greatest Hemi Story of
all time. Think for a moment what would have
happened if 43/JR was not built. The 426 Hemi
was conceived solely for use in NASCAR
racing, its use elsewhere was simply a by-product.
If the Hemi could not be used in NASCAR
would Chrysler have continued to develop and
built it, probably not. Part of the deal with Bill
France to let the Hemis back in was that Chrysler
should build and sell more of them. The “Street”
Hemi of 1966 was the result. 43/JR was in a way
a Trojan Horse. At the least it was the symbol for
Chrysler’s Intentness. Without a presence in
NASCAR the Hemi would have died and there
would have been no Hemi cars built after 1965.
It’s possible that Tom Hoover and the boys
could have engineered some replacement but it
is more likely that Chryslers beef with France
would have become permanent. In my Hemi
mind, to paraphrase Churchill, This was
Chryslers finest hour.

Part 2 — The Real

As of this writing [December 2006], 43/JR
still exists and is still in the hands of the Pettys.
From the pictures I’ve seen it looks restorable
although to me there would be absolutely no
point in doing so. The car has tremendous
historical significance as it sits. A platinum
restoration would not add to its significance.
Lincoln’s chair from the Ford Theater is in a
museum; do you think it should be

Below is a list of magazines which featured
Richard’s Cuda: Hot Rod, February, 1965
Cars, March, 1965Super Stock and Drag
Illustrated, March, 1965, Super Stockers in
Action, April, 1965, Hotrod Parts Illustrated,
April, 1965, Drag Racing, July, 1965. Car
Life, February, 1966

I don’t have access to any more photos than
those presented in the magazines. I’d like to
make some observations on what I see. As
mentioned above it looks like most of the
photos are from a press-packet prepared by
Chrysler. In the photo of the NASCAR bumper
sticker you can see three pop-rivets above the
bumper. The 1964 Barracudas were Valiants
and had that logo over the rear bumper. The
logo was attached with three pins in exactly
the arrangement of those pop-rivets. Also the
“Barracuda” logos shown in the photos on
the front fenders of JR were of the 1964 type.
The final “a” had a long “tail” in ’64 while
the ’65’s had a short tail. I think JR was a
1964 Barracuda. Maybe the VIN tag is still
intact although I don’t see it in any of the

As built by the Pettys JR had a slight engine
setback, a fabricated firewall and a large
fabricated trans tunnel. On the face of it you’d
think it was just standard race car construction
but I discovered an interesting factoid while
doing a reconstruction (Later in Part 3). Let’s
assume that JR started life with a Slant Six or
273 c.i. V-8 (the only engines available) and
an automatic trans (the story would be the
same if it was a manual trans). The compact
cars used the small automatic, the 904. The
B body and larger cars used the larger 727
trans. (These were all cable operated in 1964
and 1965.) In ’64 / ’65 the 904 trans
measured 22.66 inches (Chryslers number)
from the front of the trans case to the
centerline of the trans mount bolt holes. On
the 727 trans this dimension was about 20.7
inches. Therefore, if the Pettys removed the
904 trans and tried to install the 727 they
would find the rear of their Hemi about 2
inches closer to the firewall than the stock
engine was. With the rear of the cross-ram
almost in line with the rear of the motor
there was a serious interference problem. It
was either move the rear trans support or the
firewall. An engine set back was a plus for
drag racing so they moved the firewall. The
727 was larger and then closer to the back of
the car so a new tunnel was required. While
the dash was out to rework the firewall, they
apparently decided to leave it out and
incorporate the gauges into the firewall. It’s
possible the Pettys ended up removing the rear
trans support anyway to give them more engine
setback, I can’t tell from the photos. Regardless
I think the root of their original problem was
that 2 inch difference in the transmissions.

43/JR used an 8 3/4 inch rear end. Stock
Barracudas used a 7 1/4 inch rear end with the
8 3/4 inch becoming an option in the 1965’s.
JR had huge NASCAR type brake drums so
it’s hard to tell if the rear end was a narrowed
B body unit or the ’65 A body piece. 1964 A
bodies used push buttons to activate the
transmission cables while the ’65 Barracudas
utilized a floor mounted lever. JR got the ’65
lever set up with the black shift ball and its
distinctive cone shaped dimples. The box
supporting the shifter is home-made, again
an indication that the car was a 1964 model.

To lighten up the Barracuda, the Pettys
installed fiberglass fenders, hood and trunk
lid. They cut away all of the front inner
fenders. To restore some structural integrity
they added steel tubing several inches above
the stock frame. This tubing ran continuously
from near the front wheels into the frame over
the rear wheels. One fiberglass NASCAR style
seat was installed for The King. It was set back
somewhat because of the firewall set back and
probably a little more because Richard was
pretty tall. For added safety a loop type roll bar
was installed with a single brace running from
the middle of the top bar down to the floor. The
car probably had some type of NASCAR gas
tank as there appear to be two gas caps, the s
tock one and another at the rear.

When the Plymouth Valiant first appeared in
1960 it represented Chrysler’s initial venture
into the new “compact” car market. It was
designed to be smaller, lighter and more fuel
efficient than their previous cars. Special
small engines, the Slant Six and the 273 c.i.
V-8, were designed for it . Even the 904
automatic trans was downsized from the 727
unit. The front suspension utilized the same
principles as the big cars but was scaled down.
For example “Intermediate” sized B body cars
used 41 inch long torsion bars set 26 1/2 inches
apart while the new A body used 35.8 inch bars
spaced 23 inches center to center. The B body
engine compartment was approximately 30
inches wide compared to the Valiant’s 27 inches
(at the narrowest point between the frame rails).
When the Pettys sailed into the Cuda project
they entered a sea where only a few had gone
before. Chrysler participated in several big
block/A body ventures before JR but no one
had yet built a Hemi A body keeping the stock
suspension. The Pettys would be no exception.
In a nutshell the problem was that not only was
the engine compartment very narrow but the
Hemi heads had the exhaust ports facing down
and out at about a 45 degree angle. Dragmaster,
in Southern California, put a 413 max-wedge
engine into a 1962 Lancer (the Dodge A body)
in 1962 while retaining the original torsion bar
set-up. However the wedge heads have exhaust
ports which exit nearly horizontally from the
engine. Dragmaster built headers that went
outward and then up and into the tops of the
wheelwells. When contemplating a Hemi
transplant you soon realize that the headers must
travel down into the narrow space between the
block and the torsion bars. The Pettys only had
one option, remove the stock torsion bars. With
their NASCAR experience this was probably a
cake walk. In the normal course of events they
beefed the heck out of their race cars.
Consequently JR wound up with a hand made
torsion bar / wishbone suspension arm / finned
brake drum front end. The torsion bars were
installed outside of the cars frame. No more
header clearance problems. Their biggest
headache was overcome.

As of October, 1964, when work on 43/JR
was begun, Chrysler only had one version
of its cross-ram 426 Hemi, the A-864. These
utilized cast iron blocks, cast iron “K” heads
and an aluminum intake manifold with dual
Holley carbs. The Pettys added the left valve
cover with the long filler neck like they used
on their NASCAR engines. In lieu of an air
cleaner or velocity stacks they fabricated two
sheet metal air scoops. (Eat your heart out
Chip!) The battery in JR was in the engine
compartment near the right firewall along
with the normal alternator and a “black box”
transistor ignition. Cosmetically, JR had a
black interior with black carpet. The roll bar
and the exterior paint were Petty Blue (I
concur with Richard Ehrenberg, Petty Blue is
“Corporate Blue” Ditzler 12785). The front
bumper was deleted. The headlights and the
opening in the valance were covered with
aluminum. The grill was a one piece unit
borrowed from a 1965 Valiant 100. The
center section of the grill was blue. At the
AHRA meet in January, 1965 JR was
adorned with a white stripe on the roof, the
trunk lid and the plastic rear window.

43/JR was out on the drag strips by
November of 1964. Although it could
probably have been raced in some existing
class, “exhibition” was where the money
and the most exposure was. The car was
booked at various tracks well into the
1965 season. On February 28, 1965,
43/JR was scheduled for a best of three
match race with Arnie Beswick at
Southeastern Dragway in Dallas, Georgia.
Dallas is northwest of Atlanta about 300
miles from Randleman. During one of the
runs against Beswick a front suspension
part broke sending the uncontrollable
Barracuda off the strip and into the crowd
of spectators. Several people were injured
and one 8 year old boy named Wayne Dye
was killed. Richard was okay but he and the
family were devastated. JR was hauled home
to the Petty junk yard in the woods behind
the shops never to run again.

Part 3 — The Recreation

I love those TV shows where they try to figure
out how they moved the rocks to Stonehenge
or if you could actually build from one of
Leonardo DaVinci’s drawings. My favorite
was the show on the trebuchet. Recreations.
You learn a lot building them and if you share
what you learned then everyone comes out
ahead. I can’t afford a TV show but I’ll do
what I can do.

In early 2005 I was looking for a new project.
One of my favorite cars in the era was the red
1965 Hemi Cuda driven by Tom McEwen and
sponsored by the Southern California
“Plymouth Dealers Association.” I never saw
it run but I loved it. After pondering that Hemi
in the rear, and the blower, I came to my senses
and realized that that project was way over my
head. I liked 43/JR because of it’ historical
significance, the fact that it was a do-able
cross-ram engine and, being a front motored
car, it could be streetable. I don’t weld, paint
or build engines but I still thought I would give
it a shot. I started looking for a cheap body.

I found a ’64 and a ’65 Barracuda for sale
at my new friend Charley’s place thinking I
would use the ’65 for JR since that is
probably what the Pettys used. The ’65 was
way too nice to cut up so I started work on
the $250 ’64 Barracuda. Eventually I came
to the conclusion that the Pettys probably
used a 1964 also, so I lucked out. (For my
recreation it didn’t really make any
difference as the ’64 / ’65 cars were virtually
identical). I then started to really scrutinize all
those photos in the old magazines and tried to
figure how many years the project would take.
At the SEMA show in 2005 I saw those
plastic engines and transmissions made by
P - Ayr. I could save my wife a lot of time if I
could put the Hemi in and out by myself so we
made the purchase. The plastic components
arrived shortly. I jacked the ’64 up, put in the
trans support (it still had the rubber mount)
and plunked in the 426 Hemi / 727. You could
have knocked me over with a feather; it was a
perfect fit! I lined up the plastic 727 mounts up
with rear support and bingo, no interference.
The Cuda K member had a long flat plate
welded to it on each side of the motor. I got the
’64 / ’65 style Hemi engine mounts out and they
were just a few shims away from being a bolt
in. “What gives here,” I said to myself; “The
Pettys practically removed the whole front of the
car to put their engine in.” I bought that plastic
engine thinking I would need it for at least six
months. I got the engine in on the first try. I
was perplexed.

Back in Part 2 I pointed out that I believe
the Pettys had to remove the firewall on JR
because of interference with the engine.
The root of the problem was that 2 inch
difference ( 904 and 22.66 inches / 727 and
20.7 inches) in the as-mounted trans length.
Well in 1966, when they came out with the
Street Hemi, Chrysler moved the engine back
about 1 1/2 inches. When they did that they
revamped the 727 significantly. They got rid
of the cables, moved the speedometer pinion
and moved the mounting point for the rubber
mount. They made the new dimension 22.66
inches; the 904 dimension remained the same
at 22.66 inches. In my recreation I decided not
to use a cable shifted trans since they are
getting too rare. I planned to use a 1973 727.
(The ’66 and up 727’s are pretty much the same.
The P - Ayr plastic one is a ’66 and up.)
Inadvertently I removed a ’64 904 and replaced
it with a ’73 727 which was the same in that
critical as-installed length. No engine-firewall
interference. Mystery solved. [ H 1 ]

Here on out I’m going to try to save some
words by using the following abbreviation
[ H 1 ] =Helpful hint no. 1[ BO 1 ] = ’68
Hemi Cuda hint no. 1

[ H 2 ] Engine Location With the plastic
engine / trans bolted to the trans crossmember
the front / back location of the engine was
determined. For up / down I put on the oil
pan and found that the bottom of the block
was about 2 inches above the stock K member.
For left / right I put the engine 1 inch offset
to the right. All Mopars of that era had the
engine offset. I always figured the B body
offset was 1 1/2 inches but I don’t own
enough A bodies to make a good survey. In
’65 you could get an 8 3/4 inch in both bodies
so I imagine the offset was the same all around.
I used 1 inch to give me more clearance on the
right side.

[ BO 1 ] K Member Spacers

On all BO cars they put 1/2 inch plates of
aluminum between the K member and the
frame because the cross-ram engine was so
tall it was very close to the hood. From the
photos it appeared that on JR the carbs were
nearly level with the hood. I used 3/8 inch
plates initially thinking I could add or remove
them later.

[ H 3] Right Shock Tower

The Hemi is about 29 inches wide at the
valve covers. The B body is about 31 3/4
inches between the frame rails while this
dimension is 28 5/8 inches on the ’64 - ’66
A bodies. On the ’64 - ’65 Hemi B bodies
they installed a special right shock tower
which provided more clearance with the
engine. Since the Cuda engine compartment
was 3 inches narrower you could figure that
there was going to be trouble on the right.
Luckily the A body shock tower is very
different from the B body’s. On the B body
the tower is stamped from a large piece of
steel such that the tower and the inner fender
are one piece of metal. On the A body the
support for the shock is a U shaped channel
of stamped and welded steel and the inner
fender is a separate large sheet. It is far
easier to modify the A body tower. I cut the
inner fender from around the tower and then
cut the whole tower off about an inch above
the A arm bolts. With the engine in place I
welded the tower back in. I think it ended up
being moved to the right at least 1 1/4 inches.

[ H 4 ] Steering Column

The steering column jacket is too close to
the engine. I cut off the lower 2 inches of
the jacket. The bolt in the coupler hit my
headers. Replaced it with a set screw.

[ BO 2 ] Master Cylinder

On the BO cars they used a thick aluminum
spacer plate to move the master cylinder to
the left to clear the engine. This will not
work on the ’64 - ’65 cars as the master
cylinder needs to be moved more, about 3
inches. In ’67 they widened the engine
compartment of all the A body cars and
moved the master cylinder and the brake
pedal to the left. This moved the pedal from
the right side of the steering column to the
left. The aluminum spacer worked on the
’68 BO’s because you only needed to move
the push rod from the right side of the pedal
arm to the left side, about an 1 inch.

[ H 5 ] Master Cylinder

I chose to keep the single reservoir master
cylinder as it was period correct. I moved
it exactly 3 1/4 inches to the left for clearance.
Inside the car the master cylinder is backed by
a U shaped sheet metal brace which also
provides the pivot point for the brake pedal.
Four bolts attached to the brace go through
four holes in the firewall and retain the
master cylinder. I drilled two new holes in
the firewall 3 1/4 inches to the left of the
existing set of holes and then moved the brace
and master cylinder. Two of the bolts utilized
existing holes and two were in the new holes.
This moved the brake pedal arm into the steering
column. Straighten the arm and you’re done.

[ H 6 ] Oil Pan

I used the relatively new Mopar center sump
pan P5007807 AB and 1/2 inch pickup
P4529567. This cleared the stock K member
and the steering arm with no problems.

[ H 7 ] Engine Mounts

I laid some ’64 / ’65 Hemi mounts in the
engine compartment early on and they looked
like they might work. However, I would have
had to buy another set for my recreation since
the ones I had belonged to another car. For
about the same money you can buy
Schumacher’s mounts. They don’t make
mounts for a Hemi / ’64 - ’65 A body
conversion (yet) so I bought a set they make
for a Hemi / ’64 - ’65 B body transplant.
They are generally built like a large hinge so
I figured they would give me more flexibility
in locating my engine. I had to cut, weld and
tweak the side of the mounts nearest the K
member but this was fairly easy as the “hinge
pin” and urethane can be removed to separate
all the pieces. The stock Hemi mounts have
the two faces at a 45 degree angle. When I got
done the Schumacher ones were a much more
flexible 45 degrees + / - 15 degrees.

[ H 8 ] Headers

Step one, make a large deposit to your
checking account. No one makes headers for
this engine / body combination so you are
on your own. I borrowed an iron Hemi block
and some heads and bolted them into place. I
then took the car to the muffler shop before I
did anything else. I thought there would be a
lot of banging around with the pipes and it
would be best to handle the exhaust problem
before the car was painted. The pipes have to
go down between the block and the torsion
bars. Eventually we concluded that there was
no room for four tubes on each side so we
ended up with tri - Y headers using 2 inch pipe
at the flanges. These headers are better than the
street Hemi cast iron manifolds but not as good
as the equal - length set the Pettys built for JR.
They are a good compromise considering that
my torsion bars remain untouched. (Much
thanks to Scott Stark at Collins Muffler.)

[ BO 3 ] Rear Springs
002 / 003 Mopar ’68 Super Stock springs
are a bolt in.

[ H 9 ] Rear End

JR utilized an 8 3/4 inch rear end with large
finned drums and presumably a 5 on 4 1/2
inch bolt pattern. The 8 3/4 inch from any A
body will work but they use the small 5 on 4
inch bolt pattern. I got some axles from
Mosher in the 4 1/2 inche size and used ’65
B body backing plates with 10 inch x 2 1/2
inch drums.

[ H 10 ] Shifter

Imperial Services makes a special cable to
connect a ’65 floor mounted shifter to a
’66 and up 727. The ’65 shifter does not
have much throw; i.e. the cable does not
have a lot of travel. To compensate
Imperial provides an extremely short arm
for the trans operating lever. Because the
short arm doesn’t have as much leverage,
Imperial also gives you a light spring to
replace the big one behind the detent ball
in the trans. A nice package but it took over
three months to get from Imperial.--I didn’t
use this but I have noticed that a 1968 A-100
van has a shifter obviously derived from the
’65 version. It is dash-mounted and operates
a single cable. (Chrysler put an additional
plate on the shifter to give it the needed
longer throw.)

[ BO 4 ] Battery Tray

On 43/JR the battery was located in the
engine compartment near the right firewall.
Since I didn’t do all the cutting the Pettys
did, I couldn’t put mine there so I put it in
the trunk like the BO cars. In ’64, ’65, ’67
and on the ’68 BO’s Mopar used the same
battery tray so the Pettys could have done it
the way I did. Interestingly the trunk is much
lower in ’64 / ’65 Cudas so the battery can
not be located way to the right and way to
the back like in the BO cars.

[ H 11 ] Front Suspension / Brakes

My ’64 Barracuda came with the standard 9
inch drums with the small bolt pattern. I
wanted it to look more like the Pettys car and
especially the 5 on 4 1/2 inch studs. I dug
through my stash of old magazine articles and
became very depressed. There were all kinds
of suggestions for aftermarket or even Viper
discs. Volare spindles pro and con. I did learn
that in ’73 Mopar started using the larger B
body type ball joint in the upper A arm. But it
seemed like the only way to get the large bolt
pattern was to re-drill or use ’73 - ’76 A body
discs. I was stuck for months and this became
the biggest headache I had on my recreation. I
put the ’73 A arms on my car. Then I noticed
that the part numbers for the lower ball joint
on the early B bodies and the ’73 / ’76 A
bodies were the same (Moog K781-3). That
meant that the hole in the lower arm for the
ball joint stud was probably the same in all A
and B bodies. I had a complete front wheel
from a ’65 B body lying around so I stuck it
in my recreation. Both lower and upper ball
joints fit. I then had a larger, stronger spindle,
10 inch x 2 1/2 inch drums and the desired
large bolt pattern. I think this set-up moves
the wheels outward a 1/2 inch or more but
it’s of no consequence to me. This was too

[ BO 5 ] Seats

I wanted two seats in my car with a little
foam padding. The Pettys could have used
A100 van seats so that’s what I did.

[ H 12 ] Scoops

In building a recreation part of the fun is
in discovering why the original was built
in the way it was. Thus far I have got no
satisfaction from the Petty’s carb scoops,
however. I have no idea why they look like
two big boxes. My best guess is that they
were originally built for some other purpose
such as feed bins on a chicken coop.
Somebody ask Maurice, please.

When all was said and done this recreation
turned out to be much easier than I expected.
This was due in large part through the use of
later Chrysler stuff which was not available
in 1964. The A arms with large ball joints,
SS springs, larger diameter torsion bars,
revised dimensions on the 727, and a perfect
oil pan saved days of work. Except for the
headers, the Hemi/A body was nearly a bolt
in, not the massive project I had expected.
Please note though that my car was primarily
a learning experience and is licensed for the
street. Much more work would be needed to
make the car NHRA legal and with the 106
inch wheelbase many more dollars would
have to be spent to get it to hook up.

Body and paint: Alan Stewart at Stewart’s Nice Ride
Lettering: Dave Ripley
Engine: Steve Hagberg at SS Automotive
Parts: Bob Mazzolini Racing
Headers and exhaust: Collins Muffler

Part 4 — Epilogue

With the wreck of 43/JR “Outlawed,” a
second Barracuda was built. The new car had
a very noticeable altered wheelbase. Initially it
used the cross-ram intake with two more
rounded cast aluminum scoops. By the time
the car appeared at the NHRA’s Spring
Nationals, held on June 6, 1965, it was using
Hilborn injectors. The most obvious change
however in the Petty’s second Barracuda was
that it was no longer lettered “Outlawed.” Bill
France had a change of heart and decided that
some Hemis could run after all in 1965. Since
“Outlawed” was no longer apropos the new
Barracuda just had “43 JR” on its doors. In
June of ’65, NASCAR teamed with USAC to
formalize new racing rules. The Pettys,
Plymouth and the Chrysler Corporation
scored a major victory which would keep the
Hemi in production for six more years and in
NASCAR for several more years after that.

The Barracuda was a brand new car line for
Plymouth in 1964. It was introduced around
April 1 to beat the Mustang out of the gate.
Chrysler built the first 426 Hemi cars in May
and June, 1964. These were all B body cars.
When the Pettys dropped a Hemi into JR they
built the very first Hemi Cuda and the first
Plymouth Hemi A body. JR was not the first
Hemi A body however as that distinction
probably goes to one or both of the Dodge
Darts named “Rampage” and “Kid Goat.” By
the spring of ’64 both of these cars were
running Max Wedge engines. The wheelbase
of the stock Darts was 111 inches compared
to the 106 inches of the Valiants and
Barracudas. (For comparison the Plymouth
B body wheelbase was 116 inches.) Just about
the time that JR was under construction the
two Darts were given A100 straight front a
xle set-ups so that Hemis could be installed.
The Darts might have proceeded 43/JR by
up to a month.

Dodge had the Ramchargers and those guys
didn’t do anything half-heartedly in the area
of drag racing. Yet somehow Dodge’s
participation in the NASCAR deal seems to
have been missing something. Yes, Cotton
Owens finally had a drag car in the Dart
wagon named “Cotton Picker.” But Dick
Branstner built the car not Owens. And it was
finished too late in the game (about April or
May) to be of any consequence. In fact I don’t
think the “Cotton Picker” was intended to go
to Owens in the first place. I think Branstner
and Chrysler had a falling out and Chrysler
divvied up Branstner’s projects. They made
him sell the “Color Me Gone” to Mr. Norm,
gave the “Rainbow Dart” to Garlits and sent
the unyet named “Cotton Picker” to Owens.
So possibly Dodge’s apparently weak support
of the NASCAR war was due to a misplaced
trust in others. Whatever it was it was certainly
out of character. More investigation is needed
on this subject.

Because of the Mustang and Camaro
competition, Chrysler decided to make the
383 “B” engine an option in the 1967 Darts
and Barracudas. This was a major undertaking.
To get the engine in, they moved the torsion
bars 1 1/2 inches farther apart and widened the
engine compartment about 2 inches. This
widened the whole car about 2 inchces. To
keep everything in proportion the wheelbase
of the Barracudas was lengthened from 106
inches to 108 inches (The Dart stayed the same
at 111 inches.). In the first generation
Barracudas, 1964 - 1966, only small block and
six cylinder engines were available. In the second
generation 1967 - 1969 Barracudas, all engines
were used including the 383, 440 and 426 Hemi.
The second generation Cudas were bigger than
their predecessors and without that change there
would probably be no BO/LO cars today.

While I was able to put a Hemi in my
Barracuda recreation much easier that I
expected, I noticed that no one, to my
knowledge, did this engine swap in the era
without substantial changes to the cars. In
the Dart “Rampage” and the Barracuda
“Pandemonium” they changed to
straight-front-axles to get the needed engine
compartment space. In the Dart “Cotton
Picker” and in the “Hemi Under Glass” they
moved the engine out of it’s compartment
altogether. Even 43/JR, the second car, went
the straight front axle route. The little A
bodies presented a challenge that would not
be tackled until 1968 when they had grown a

I don’t know the Pettys but I am sure they
are a very competitive bunch; they would
have to be to have won as many races as they
did. I am sure that a game of “chicken” was
not new to them in 1965 but their stunning
victory over Bill France must have made a
lasting impression. In the late ’60’s when
Richard and a group of other drivers were
shredding tires on one of NASCAR’s tracks,
they decided to boycott the race until i
mprovements could be made. Did Richard’s
experience with 43/JR give him the courage
to face-off with NASCAR again? In 1969,
when Dodge came out with the winged
Daytonas, the Pettys showed how well the
game of chicken could be played. When
Chrysler would not let Richard drive a
winged Dodge, because he was under contract
to Plymouth, he signed up to race Fords!
Richard won this game also. Plymouth built
a whole new car for him, the Superbird. The
Birds were fantastic cars. Richard’s “Petty
Blue” “43” Superbird is the highlight of the
Petty Museum in North Carolina. Yet would
the Superbirds even have been built were it
not for the lessons learned with that little blue
Barracuda? Yes, David could take on Goliath.
Ironically, JR has spent most of its life not in
a place of honor in the Petty’s collection but
rather in a ditch, a stone’s throw out back.

Update July 2007 The Barracuda is complete.

Contact Pete at

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