Q: Greg I recently read your article on the Plymouth Barracuda in a small Pennsylvania newspaper that I receive here in California. I would like to add my two cents worth on the 1964 Plymouth Barracuda versus Mustang article. I will admit to being prejudiced since I have owned a 1964 ½ Mustang convertible since 1978. I always wanted one since riding in a brand new convertible with the 289 V8 right off the dealer’s floor on the first sales day in April of 1964.

As you know, the Mustang outsold the Barracuda 10 to one that first year. I also feel it was not Chrysler engineering or the 273-V8 under the hood of the Barracuda that was the problem. I feel the Barracuda did not receive enough advertising preceding its introduction. Secondly, the car was not nearly as attractive or sporty looking as the new Ford Mustang. It was a Valiant with a big glass rear hatch which I feel gave the car strange proportions especially with the small tires. Granted, I admit the Mustang was nothing more than a Falcon with different bodywork, but it sure worked.

In 1967, the Barracuda was re-designed and enlarged with much more attractive bodywork and offered a 383 V8, a great engine. But by then, Mustang and the new 1967 Camaro had big block engines, too.

As an aside to this letter, another one of my favorites of the period was the Sunbeam Tiger. As you probably know, the demise of the Sunbeam came right after Chrysler bought the Rootes Group. The Chrysler 273 V8 was larger in proportion than the Tiger’s previous Ford 289 engines and it would not fit in the small engine bay. Another problem was distributor placement between the 273 and the 289, front versus back. So, Chrysler didn’t want a 289 Ford in their car so the Sunbeam Tiger was cancelled in 1967 as soon as the supply of 289 V8 Ford engines was used up. The very last Sunbeam Tiger said “Powered by V8” instead of “Powered by Ford.”

Sad about the Sunbeam Tiger, as they were known as a cheaper Cobra back then although not as light…but hundreds of pounds lighter than a Mustang. Thanks for your articles and keep up the good work. Hank Herbst, Palm Springs, CA.

A: Hank, thank you so much for your insightful letter concerning the three cars you mention. Many know about the Mustang and Barracuda, but I’m sure there are many a reader that has learned a thing or two about the Sunbeam Alpines and Tigers, the latter powered by Ford 260 and then 289 V8s.

Those Sunbeam Tigers were indeed very neat sports cars, and when powered by the Ford V8 coupled to a four-speed transmission, they were quite the performance car. To be honest, I knew Chrysler cancelled Tiger production back in 1967 as they were already partners with the United Kingdom-based Rootes Group in 1964, but didn’t know that the 273 simply wouldn’t fit between the frame rails. (Even I learned something new today).

I do know Carroll Shelby had a lot to do with the Sunbeam Tiger in both design and using the Ford V8 engines. I agree with your assumption that the Sunbeam Tiger from 1964 to 1967 was a low cost Shelby Cobra. Its sibling, the Sunbeam Alpine, was similar in exterior design but never had the Ford V8 engines. Alpines relied on four-cylinder engines from 1953 through 1975. Chrysler sold Rootes/Sunbeam to French car maker Peugeot in 1978.

As for the Mustang and Barracuda, your opinion is noted, especially Barracuda’s lack of advertising and its different fastback styling. Although I’m not as tough on the original Barracuda design, both Mustang and the new generation Barracudas made up for any of the early model Falcon and Valiant gene attributions enthusiasts always note. However, both Mustang and Barracuda solidified the brand names in the front row of muscle car history ala Mustang Boss 429 and 426 Hemi ‘Cuda.

Thanks so much for your interesting letter and have a Happy New Year.

— Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now and other GateHouse Media publications. He welcomes reader input on collector cars and auto nostalgia at 303 Roosevelt St., Sayre, Pa. 18840 or email at greg@gregzyla.com.