“It was the early days of the Internet around the late 1990s and I was surfing around through some websites one day when I came across a forum dedicated to “Mod Top” optioned Mopars,” shares Gerry Samp of British Columbia, Canada.
While scrolling through the various posts with people sharing their cars, Gerry opened up a forum post where a fellow in Washington State was sharing pictures of his 1969 Plymouth Barracuda 340 Mod Top car. Gerry says, “I noticed in the post with the description of his car that he stated that his dad owned a factory black 1969 Barracuda 340 Mod Top car as well. That caught my attention right away.”
Wanting to know more, Gerry did some investigating and managed to get a hold of the guy’s dad who owned the black car in Issaquah, Washington. He says, “The guy was an ex-sheriff and owned the car with the intentions of building it into a race car of all things. He had purchased it from a guy who was apparently in a bit of trouble and needed to sell it”.
Over the years, time had taken its toll on the Barracuda and it was showing its age. The car was a rolling shell sitting in primer. The original Mod Top had been removed with the exception of some left over top remnants found under the chrome trim on the roof and the original floral print seats had been horribly painted black at some point. Luckily, the fender tag was still in place decoding exactly what the car originally was.
Built in September 1968, the Barracuda rolled off the assembly line painted X9 Black with the F6P coded yellow and black floral bucket seat interior and a matching V1P coded floral “Mod Top.” Under the hood was a 340-4bbl engine backed by a console shifted 727 Torqueflite automatic.
The options included the A01 Light Group, A06 “S” Package, A62 Rallye Instrument Cluster Package, power brakes, power steering, tinted glass, dual chrome mirrors, three-speed wipers, fender mounted turn signals, wide sill moldings, deluxe 14” wheel covers, Redline tires and a Music Master AM radio. It was also ordered as a V78 stripe delete car.
Gerry says, “When I looked at the car, it was the biggest basket case I had ever seen but I knew the car was special and needed to be restored back to original, not turned into a race car. It’s a very good chance it was the only one built in these specifications or pretty close.”
Being as Gerry is a massive (an understatement to say the least) 1967-1969 A-Body Barracuda enthusiast and collector, he knew he had all of the pieces needed to restore the car back to original. Needless to say, a deal was made and the car came back to British Columbia with Gerry.
Once he got the car home, he began the restoration on it. What parts left on the shell were taken off so Gerry could start the body and paint work on it. Overall, the car was pretty solid so the metal work was minimal.
“One interesting bit of information I always thought was cool was the car was reported to original have been from the Yakima, Washington area. When I took apart the car for the restoration, the cowl vents were literally stuffed with ash from the eruption of Mt. Saint Helens in 1980,” shares Gerry.
“When the car was repainted its original X9 Black, it looked absolutely beautiful. However, that didn’t last long. About a year or so later, we realized something had gone wrong as the paint started lifting. It turns out that moisture got under the primer and caused the paint to lift. Needless to say, the car had to be totally stripped back to bare metal and repainted. The second paint job turned out great thankfully,” explains Gerry.
The original 340 engine and transmission were long gone before the sheriff had purchased the car so Gerry tracked down proper period-correct ones for the restoration so it would be as close to original as possible. Since Gerry is an automotive mechanic and machinist by trade, rebuilding the drivetrain to factory specification was an easy task for him.
When it came time to replicating the floral Mod Top print for the roof and interior, that was a whole massive ordeal on its own. He says, “I was looking into finding the Mod Top material and it was near impossible. By that point, all of the NOS (New Old Stock) material left in circulation had been basically bought up by Legendary Interiors and already used.”
He continues to say, “However, I was put in contact with a guy in California who was going to reproduce it. I sent him a deposit for the material I needed along with some other folks so he could get the ball rolling with reproducing it.”
When the guy in California finally managed to reproduce the material, the first batch unfortunately didn’t turn out as hoped for. He was going to refund everyone their deposits and throw in the towel but decided to give it one more shot. Thankfully, the second try turned out fantastic.
Gerry says, “I ended up buying enough material to do two cars with just in case so it all worked out. When it came time to restoring the interior and top, Gerry pulled some of the material out of his stock and went to work. As you can see, the efforts to reproduce this material look absolutely jaw dropping!
Around 2010 or so, the restoration was complete. He tells us, “Overall, the restoration took around 10 years. It’s crazy to think of that considering it felt like 2 or 3 years but I’m very happy with the results. I actually have another Mod Top ’69 Barracuda 340 that is an Y2 Sunfire Formula-S car. It’s the perfect book end to this black car so I’ll be restoring that one eventually. It will be really neat to have them both restored and sitting together.”