Founded in the late 1920s, mis-managed into administration, and then closed down in the last decade or so, Plymouth and Pontiac are best known in recent times as victims of the Big Three’s sorry tale of arrogance, greed and incompetence.
But before all that there were some good times. Really good times. In the late-’60s to early-’70s the muscle car was in a golden age, and both Plymouth and Pontiac were riding the crest of that wave.
Plymouth’s Barracuda (above) launched in the mid-’60s with a range of engines beginning at just 100bhp, yet by 1970 it was making up to 425bhp from an enormous Hemi V8. Unfortunately 425bhp didn’t sit really suit the market once the oil crisis hit in 1973, and production ended shortly afterwards, but if anything that short life has helped the ‘Cuda become one of most sought-after muscle cars in history.
General Motors were also in on the muscle car action in the 1960s, bringing – via their Pontiac brand – the GTO (below) to market in ’64. By the 1970s they too were making over 400bhp, with stock cars delivering 13.4 second 1/4 miles times straight from the forecourt. Like Plymouth the oil crisis put an end to that, but in its hay-day the Pontiac GTO sold almost 100,000 units annually, despite its slow steering and ‘amazingly inadequate’ brakes. The roads must have been a fun (if slightly terrifying) place!
The two superb Speed Champions versions of the Plymouth Hemi ‘Cuda and Pontiac GTO pictured here are the work of Thomas Gion, who has faithfully recreated both cars in just 6-studs of width, capturing the styling cues of each brilliantly.
Today both brands are gone, but the legendary cars they created in the 1960s and ’70s mean they won’t be forgotten for some time yet.
The Plymouth Barricuda is a pony car, same as the Dodge Challenger, Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro, Pontiac Firebird, AMC Javelin, etc. Pony cars feature unibody construction with long hood/short rear deck layout and using off the shelf parts. Muscle cars are 2 door derivatives of 4 door full frame chassis cars, with many later moving to unibody construction (68 up GM B-body for example). Engine size has nothing to do with the designation of either.