Finder’s Keepers: Mark Houseman’s 1970 Plymouth Barracuda 383 4-speed


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Recently, Mark Houseman told Mopar Connection the story of how he landed this rare 1970 Plymouth Barracuda from the original owner after wanting it for eight years: “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 into 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? He replied, “1970.” Deep down I thought he was shooting the bull as no one has these sitting around anymore and also being the fact my dream car was a 1971 ‘Cuda,” recounted Mark.

Mark’s co-worker told him while he was in Vietnam, all the guys were talking about Hemi ‘Cudas. When he returned 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 had 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 dealership, he discovered the Hemi car was Sublime Green with an automatic. Unfortunately for him, he hated the color and absolutely wanted a 4-speed. Sitting beside it was a 383 4-speed Barracuda. He decided to buy the 4-speed Barracuda instead of the Sublime Hemi ‘Cuda.

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After telling Mark this, he couldn’t help but ask him, “You do realize the mistake you made, right?”, and of course, he said, “Yeah.” He told Mark he and the car were the talk of the town and that no one could beat him. Mark said, “He told me stories of some of the cars that he would street race over the years and that he always won. He said other than a Hemi car, nothing else could compete.”

Naturally, Mark asked him if he could come by and see the car and his co-worker 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 backyard and admitted that it had major rust. He also told him that other “car guys” knew about the car and that he occasionally had guys stop by and try to buy it. One day, a man stopped by his house with a car trailer and told him he was there to buy and pick the car up. The guy started peeling $100 bills out of a bundle of cash. He told the guy that it wasn’t for sale and that he wanted him to leave. The would-be-buyer swore profusely at him while walking down the driveway and told him that he should be ashamed for the way he treated the car. After that incident, he didn’t want anyone else to look at the car.

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Shortly after their first conversation, Mark became a mail carrier and went to a different nearby office. He didn’t see his co-worker as much after that but when he did, he would always remind him to at least give him a chance to buy the car if it was ever available. He would always respond by telling Mark that he would never sell it, that he dated his wife in the car and that it was like a child to him. About six years later, Mark found out where his co-worker lived so he decided to go on a road trip to the country and see if he could spot the car. Sure enough, Mark found the house and behind a hedge, he could see the gold roof line of a 1970 Barracuda. At least now he knew the car existed.

Nearly a year later, Mark’s co-worker retired. On his day off, every three to six months, he would stop by and see how he was doing and check on the car. One day, he was very close to selling it and told Mark he had an offer on the car. He told Mark what the offer was and then told him where he was price-wise on the car. The price he said he wanted was what Mark always said to himself he would offer on the car. He told him that he would think about it. Mark says he was a little upset but knowing his friend’s personality, he wouldn’t like it if he showed that he was upset.

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“I told him that I wasn’t going to get into 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,” Mark retold. “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.”

About three weeks later, he called Mark and said, “Do you know why I’m calling you?” Mark told him, “I hope so, but I need to hear it.” He said that he was ready to sell. Mark was there the next morning with the cash and after all that time, the Barracuda was finally his. His old co-worker gave Mark the original title so he called the local tag office and asked if there was any way he could preserve it. He asked if he had the original owner apply for a duplicate title, if he could keep the original title for his records.

The lady at the office said that would be no problem. When Mark picked the car up, it was the first time in fifteen years that it had been moved. To make loading it up easier, he asked the neighbor next door if he could use her driveway to move the car. She said she was so happy that he was getting that “piece of junk” out of there. She also said that when she had her house built seven years prior, the contractor/builder went over to the owner of the car and offered him $10,000 cash, and he turned him down.

After getting the Barracuda home, Mark started cleaning the inside of the car and found the build sheet behind the rear seat along with the original finance paper ($93.00 per month for three years) and the original owner’s discharge paper from the military.

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According to Galen Govier and his wife Diane, they only made 602 4-speed 383 Barracudas in 1970. That’s not taking any options/deletes/color factors into consideration. The car itself has 41,000 original one-owner miles. It was originally Vitamin C orange with Pure White interior. It is totally mechanically unmolested and original.

Unfortunately, there were a few changes made that will need to be undone: The owner inexplicably had painted it gold in the 80’s along with adding a console out of a 1964-1966 Pontiac GTO. He also re-covered the seats and painted the plastic black. The floor and trunk pans are rusty as are the rear quarter panels, front valance and front fenders. Mark shared that he has owned a lot of nice cars but has always wanted an old ‘Cuda. “I feel completely honored and so fortunate to own this car.”

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Cody Krueger

Cody Krueger

Car Feature Editor – cody.cole@shawgroupmedia.com Since the age of 4, Cody has been obsessed with everything Mopar. On Christmas of 1998, Cody's parents gave him a rusty '69 Charger shell that his father saved from a field. Cody's garage still features that '69 Charger as well as the additions of a '70 Coronet, '71 Charger R/T, '71 Road Runner, '04 SRT-4, '06 Grand Cherokee SRT8, '08 Challenger SRT8 and a '17 Ram 1500 Rebel. Cody can truly and proudly say him and his wife are true Mopar nuts in love with all types of Mopars!

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    Jeff 23 January, 2016 at 02:15 Reply

    Great story and a very cool car. I’m glad the new owner finally got it. Now, if it was me the toughest decision I would have during the restoration would be whether or not to change the hood. A Ralley or shaker hood would be just what the car needed, Everything else could stay the same, except the day 2 center console would HAVE to go! 🙂

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