In March of 2004 I transferred with the Post Office from south Florida to Valdosta Georgia. I started talking to a fellow employee casing mail next to me. Trying to drum up a conversation, I mentioned to him that I was in to cars and had a few. He said he had one. I asked what it was and he said an old Barracuda. I asked what year? And he said, 1970. (Deep down I thought he was shooting the bull as no one has these sitting around any longer and the fact my dream car was a 1971 ‘cuda). He said he bought it brand new when he returned from Viet Nam. He said while in Nam that’s all the guys were talking about (Hemi ‘cudas). When he got back to Fort Benning, he called Hunt Chrysler Plymouth in Tifton Georgia and asked them if they had any of those “Hemi ‘cudas” on their lot. The salesman told him they had two ‘cudas and one was a Hemi. He told them to hold it for him and that he would be there in a few days.
When he got to the dealer, the Hemi car was lime green (he hated the color) and was an automatic (he absolutely wanted a 4-speed). This car, the one I bought from him, was the other Barracuda sitting next to the Hemi. After telling me this I told him at one point, “you do realize the mistake you made”, and he said, “yes”.
He told me he and the car was the talk of the town and that no one could beat him. He told me some of the cars over the years that he would street race and he always won. He said other than a hemi car, nothing could compete.
I asked him that night (and other nights over the years to follow) if I could come by and see the car and he would always say, “no”. He said that he was “ashamed” of the way the car looked because it was parked behind his house out in the back yard. He admitted that it had major rust. He also told me that other “car guys” knew about the car and that he sporadically had guys stop by and try to buy the car. He said that one day a man stopped by his house with a car hauling trailer (after the yearly Moultrie Car Show) and told him he was there to buy and pick the car up. He said that the guy started peeling $100.00 bills out of a bundle of cash. The owner said that it wasn’t for sale and that he wanted him to leave. The wanna-be-buyer cussed the owner out walking down the drive way and told him that he ought to be ashamed for the way he treated that car. I found out what his address was about four years ago and went out on a country road trip to see if I could see the car. Sure enough, I found the house and behind a hedge, you could see the gold colored roof line of a ’70 Barracuda. At least now I knew the car existed.
Shortly after our first conversation I became a mail carrier and went to a different nearby office. I didn’t see him near as much but when I did I would always remind him to at least let me have a chance to buy the car if it was ever available. He would always respond by telling me that he would never sell it, that he dated his wife in that car, that it was like a child to him, and again, he could never sell it.
Well, this is a classic case of not giving up and patience paying off. About three years ago he retired. So on my day off, every 3-6 months, I would stop by and see how he was doing and check on the car. Two months ago he was very close to sell it and told me he had an offer on the car. He told me what the offer was and then told me where he was (money/price) on the car. The price he said he wanted was the price I always said I would go on the car. I told him that right then and I thought we had a deal. He told me that he would think about it. I was a little upset but knew his personality wouldn’t like it if I showed him I was upset. I told him that I wasn’t going to do a bidding war with this other guy. He told me that I needed to understand that he needed to get as much out of the car as possible. I told him that I would bring the car back to its original glory and condition like the day he bought it new. If he sold it to anyone else, they would likely part it out or make it in to a car that it never was. I reminded him how I love original cars, low mileage and especially one-owner cars. I left that day feeling sick to my stomach realizing how close I was to owning my dream car. I called Galen Govier’s office in November and talked to Diane. I told her the story and that I will likely own the car but wanted to know how rare it was. She told me that the car was not in any registry (due to the fact it’s a one owner car). She also said they only made 602 4-speed 383cid Barracudas. That’s not taking any options/deletes/color factors in to consideration. She said the number will be lower when I hire them to run the numbers. I called them to do this and will have the results in February.
About three weeks later he called me and said, “do you know why I’m calling you”? I told him, “I hope so, but I need to hear it”. He said that he was ready. I was there the next morning with the cash and it was mine. He gave me the original title that is a smaller yellow title. I called the local tag office and asked if there was any way I could preserve the original title. I asked if I had the original owner apply for a duplicate title, could I keep the original title. She said, “yes”, and that’s what I did.
When I picked the car up, first time in 15 years that it had been moved, I asked the neighbor next door if I could use her driveway. She said she was so happy that I was getting that “piece of junk” out of there. She also said that when she had her house built 5 years ago, the contractor/builder went over to the owner of the Plymouth and offered him $10,000.00 cash, and he turned him down.
I cleaned the inside of the car up a little and found the build sheet behind the rear of the rear seat. I also found the original finance paper ($93.00 per month for three years) and the original owner’s discharge paper from the military. The pictures of the car when it was orange is when it was less than a year old, one picture showing the original owner leaning on the car. He poses almost the same stance 43 years later the day I bought the car from him.
I feel honored to own such a car and look forward to the day I start the restoration.