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?
Who: Ken Maisano
What: '70 Plymouth Barracuda
Where: Costa Mesa, CA
Engine: This was originally a 340 car, but seeking more cubic inches, Ken removed that engine and replaced it with a 340X block bored to 4.125 inches. It houses a 4.00-inch Mopar Performance crankshaft, Eagle 6.125-inch rods, and CP 13.0:1 pistons. The cam is custom ground from Comp with 278/282 duration and 0.640/0.620 lift on a 108-degree lobe-separation angle. Indy oval-port aluminum cylinder heads are on top. Ken ported and assembled them himself with Ferrea 2.08/1.65-inch valves, K-Motion valvesprings, and T&D rocker arms. Comp solid roller lifters and Smith Bros. pushrods bridge the gap between block and heads.
Induction: Ken modified the Indy intake manifold, cutting about 1 1/2 inches of material off the carburetor flange, and made a four-hole carburetor spacer/adapter to mount a 1,050-cfm Dominator carburetor, packaging it all so it would fit under his car's AAR-style fiberglass hood. Said Dominator is kept supplied with a steady stream of Sunoco 110-octane race gas by a Barry Grant 280 fuel pump.
Ignition: The Mallory Unilite distributor is left over from Ken's first race car-a '70 Duster he owned in the '80s. It's controlled by an MSD Digital 7AL box with a two-step launch control.
Exhaust: The Hooker headers are also leftovers from Ken's Duster, and he says he only needed to modify a few of the tubes and notch the subframe in a couple of spots to get them to fit the E-Body chassis. They measure 17/8 inches at the primaries, and 31/2 inches at the collectors.
Transmission: A Pro-Trans-built 904 handles the shifting duties. Ken says he picked up 0.25 second when he swapped it in place of his 727 trans. Wheels-up launches come courtesy of the Turbo-Action transbrake and the steep, 5,700-stall Continental torque converter.
Rearend: A Strange 9-inch is out back, stuffed with 4.30 gears on a spool and Moser 35-spline axles.
Suspension: The torsion bars are stock, but the shocks are double-adjustable QA1s. In the rear, Rancho 1000 shocks are mounted to a Calvert leaf spring and CalTracs traction bar combination.
Brakes: Wilwood disc brakes are on all four corners.
Interior: The interior is surprisingly stock looking except for a few extra gauges and the 10-point chrome-moly rollcage built by Bob Miller at BMP in Prescott, Arizona. The 'cage is NHRA certified to 7.99 seconds.
Paint/Body: Ken bought this car about five years ago for about $3,000, so you can imagine it was a little trashed. No worries-he owns Mascar Autobody & Paint and has done a few high-quality restorations in his life. He did a full rotisserie job on the car, media-blasting and cutting away all the crap and replacing it with good sheetmetal. He sprayed the Plum Crazy and matte-black paint scheme using BASF basecoat/clearcoat and had the car up and running in a mere eight months.
Wheels/Tires: Fifteen-inch Weld wheels are all around. The front tires are Moroso 28x4.5, and the rear slicks are Phoenix 28.5x11.5.