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Ken Maisano's 1970 Plymouth Barracuda - The Softer Side Of 9s

Ken Maisano's stroker small-block Barracuda

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Take a good look at this Barracuda. Borrowing from an old Maxwell Smart bit, would you believe it runs 9s? It has a full interior, the body is all steel (except the fiberglass hood-but it is still on the stock hinges), and there is a tame-looking, naturally aspirated small-block under the hood. Owner Ken Maisano could remove the wheelie bars and put radials on the back and you'd never guess his car was so fast. Nines? Whatever, it's just a 340 Barracuda.

Your doubts will be banished as soon as that engine fires. It is instantly clear that this thing is packing way more heat than your average purple cam and header swap. At idle, Ken's small-block-not so small at about 427 ci-terrifies small animals and fixes looks of horror on the faces of soccer moms, tree huggers, Democrats, and the elderly. If you think it sounds good at idle, you should hear it rev. The sound alone could part the Jordan River.

"I wanted a very nasty street car," Ken tells us. And yes, this is technically still a street car. It has license plates, working lights, carpet, a radio, and power windows. Ken does drive it to work occasionally and to nearby Huntington Beach, California, for the Saturday morning Donut Derelicts meet. However, the 13.0:1 compression ratio, 5,700-stall converter, and little, remote-mount electric motor that spins the water pump make this car better suited to the dragstrip than Southern California freeways.

It is stunning to watch Ken make a pass. With a transbrake and a two-step rev limiter, his Barracuda launches hard, pulling the front wheels a good 2 feet off the ground. He shifts at 7,200 rpm and the whole ordeal is over in about 9.5 seconds. He's going a blistering 140 mph through the traps. Though he has never had the engine on a dyno, Ken guesses that it makes in the neighborhood of 750 hp based on his e.t.'s versus the car's 3,400-pound race weight.

It's reliable, too. Ken tells us he has more than 400 runs on the engine and puts about 500 street miles on it per year. He's never had a problem with it. Does that mean this nasty street car has a soft side?

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