The phrase “a car is never done” is one that rings true to many car enthusiasts. It’s no secret that we love to constantly change things on our cars, whether it is something big or even the smallest tweak. For Mike Goodman of Texas, that phrase has been very much the case with his 1972 Plymouth ‘Cuda. For the past 13 or so years, Mike’s FY1 Lemon Twist ‘Cuda has been a staple in his life since he purchased it off eBay and brought it home; having met and dated his wife in it and even using it as a daily driver for a number of years. “It started life as a factory FY1 Lemon Twist Yellow Canadian Export car with black side stripes and a 318 small block backed by a light duty 904 automatic transmission. I purchased the car in 2005 in Virginia. The previous owner intended to turn it into a drag car but that project stalled,” recalls Mike.
He continues to say, “Shortly after I bought it, I moved to Las Vegas. I ended up daily driving it for two years with no air conditioning. In 2006, I attended Mopars at the Strip with the car and ended up meeting my wife at the event. She had her ’79 Li’l Red Express at the show. We got to chatting and the rest is history”. During the early years of his ownership, Mike rebuilt the 318 and hopped it up quite a bit, running a best of 13.6 seconds in the ¼ mile.”
“I nearly quit driving the car completely because I was tired of it, I had a highly modified Jeep Wrangler that I built from stock and the Barracuda was slow and just plain tired. When I decided to start my MBA and needed to commute to the University of Texas in Arlington, I needed a new daily driver. I decided either the Wrangler went or the Barracuda did. The Barracuda won. In August 2014, I tore the car down completely and redid it. With the exception of body/paint, I did everything in my standard 2 car garage. It’s cumbersome, but it works.”
What originally started as a drive train swap turned into a full restoration. Mike tells us, “The car had some rust, the paint was tired and I couldn’t stand it being an automatic any longer.” Mike repaired the rust with new rear frame rails, front floor pans and a trunk floor before the ‘Cuda was sent off to the body shop where it received a fresh coat of Lemon Twist yellow. While it was torn apart, a full US Car Tools chassis stiffening kit was installed before the entire bottom was sprayed in Eastwood Rust Encapsulator followed by Epoxy Primer and a Lizard Skin Thermal Coating.
Once the body and paint were complete, it came back home and Mike went right to work installing the new drive train, a modern fuel injected 5.7L Hemi mated to a Tremec T56 Magnum 6-speed manual. The Hemi was rebuilt with an upgraded camshaft and opened ring gaps (for the option of adding boost later). TTI headers were installed that go into a full 3” H-pipe exhaust system. The Hemi is powered by a MegaSquirt MS3 Gold Box ECU from EFISource with a Sequential fuel injection/spark system. All of the wiring is from Painless and features a custom Bussman power distribution box.
Backing the T56 is an 8 ¾ Sure-Grip rear end with 3.73 gears and Dr. Diff upgraded axle shafts. To make everything more modern, Mike has even fitted the ‘Cuda with a traction control system. “The car has some unique touches to it, such as the “real” traction control which monitors an un-driven and driven wheel through two sensors to return the perfect amount of wheel slip to maintain the maximum amount of acceleration. Naturally, there is a button inside to turn that off as there are plenty of opportunities for experiencing a lack of traction when that happens. It also has a ‘No-Lift Shift” features where the ECU cuts Spark/Fuel on clutch engagement (>5,000rpm and >80% throttle).
Underneath, Mike went with the best parts money can buy for the suspension, steering and braking systems. The suspension was upgraded with Hotchkis lower control arm pivots, front and rear sway bars, strut rods, tie rods and upper control arms and a Borgeson steering box was employed for laser quick steering. Braking is done with a Wilwood braking system which consists of 6-piston calipers on the front with 12.8” rotors and 4-piston calipers on the rear with 12.2” rotors. A 15/16” bore Wilwood master cylinder and proportioning valve power the system.
Now of course, in order to get the most performance out of the upgraded suspension, one needs to go with bigger tires and wheels to plant the most rubber to the ground. Mike went with staggered American Racing Torque Thrust M’s (17×8 front and 18×9 rear) wrapped in Nitto NT555 tires (255/45/17 front and 295/45/18 rear).
On the inside, the black bucket seat interior has been upgraded with custom SpeedHut gauges stuffed in a modified standard gauge bezel along with a 3D printed custom tach mount. The legendary Pistol Grip shifter sticks up through the floor and the interior is kept cool on those hot days by a Vintage Air A/C system.
“The goal for the car was to be the perfect mix of classic muscle with modern touches. From the outside, the car doesn’t appear to be as modified as it really is. A subtle LX Charger “HEMI” badge on the hood hints at what lies between the front fenders. All of the upgrades and the slew of little details make the car very well rounded, and exactly what I wanted it to be.”