“I could see the gold-colored roofline of a 1970 Barracuda behind a hedge,” Mark Houseman recalls. This sight was a small victory. He’d been trying to get a look at this 1970 Plymouth Barracuda for years. For a brief time Mark had actually worked alongside the owner, first names Perry Wayne, now retired, at a Georgia post office.
“I was a clerk [in 2004]. I wasn’t a mail carrier yet. I’m standing next to this guy trying to drum up a conversation. It’s like 2 in the morning my first couple, three nights there. I started talking about cars. He said he had a 1970 Barracuda, which kind of threw me off. I figured he was off a year. I asked him if I could come see it. He said no. He was too embarrassed to let anybody see it because the car had been sitting in his backyard for 15 years.”
Shortly after this conversation, Mark became a mail carrier and went to a different office nearby. He didn’t see Perry Wayne very often, but when he did he would always ask for a chance to buy the car if it ever became available.
“He was too embarrassed to let anybody see it”
“He would always respond by telling me he would never sell it, that he dated his wife in that car, that it was like a child to him. He said he bought it when he returned from Vietnam.”
When Perry Wayne returned to Fort Benning from Vietnam, he called Hunt Chrysler-Plymouth in Tifton, Georgia. They had two new ‘Cudas on the lot. One was a Lime Green Hemi coupe with automatic, the other a Vitamin C Orange 383 coupe with four-speed. Perry Wayne absolutely had to have a four-speed, so he bought the car with the 383, which oddly enough was a Barracuda, not a ‘Cuda. In retrospect he realized that he bought the wrong car, but the 383 did become the “talk of the town” where he lived and “no one could beat” him street racing.
About four years ago Mark took the initiative to find Perry Wayne’s address and took a trip to try and spot the old Barracuda. Sure enough, he found the house and spied the 1970 model behind a hedge.
“No one could beat him street racing”
Perry Wayne hesitated when Mark asked about looking at the car, but he finally consented. Sure enough, the Plymouth was a 1970 model and a Barracuda. Mark opened the hood to discover a 383 Super Commando still wearing its original exhaust manifolds and apparently unaltered since new.
The Barracuda still wasn’t for sale. Other car guys had found this out. As Mark relates the story, in urban legend form, “After the Moultrie, Georgia, car show one man had stopped with a trailer and begun peeling off hundred-dollar bills and saying he was there to buy and pick up the car. The wannabe buyer cussed the owner out walking down the driveway and told him that he ought to be ashamed for the way he treated that car.”
Mark knew how sentimental Perry Wayne was about his old ride. Pressuring him to sell was not a good tactic.
“I would visit him every four to five months and told him, ‘I don’t care if it takes years. All I want is a chance. Before you sell it, please let me know.’ I told him I want it because you bought it brand new and that’s what matters to me. I love the history.”
Finally, on one of Mark’s stops in 2014, Perry Wayne said another person had made an offer on the car.
“It’s the wildest thing, kind of cool”
Mark offered $500 more and thought he had the car bought. But Perry Wayne hesitated. Mark thought he might be getting in a bidding war.
“I had the worst sickening feeling I’ve had in my life. I thought I lost him. I thought it was gone forever. Well, two weeks later he calls me up. He says, ‘Mark, you know why I’m calling?’ I said, ‘I hope I do.’ He says, ‘Well, I’ll let you have it for your offer.’”
Mark was elated. Most Barracudas, Mark learned through research, came with small-block 318s or straight-sixes. A big-block Barracuda with a four-speed is extremely rare. Mark believes fewer than 300 were made.
As to its condition, Mark says, “The floor pans are shot. There is no pan in the trunk. It’s just rotted away completely. He had the trunk full of stuff, just full of junk, and the tires and wheels were half into the earth. I mean, it was right out in the weather for years. But the doors are good. The front fenders are decent. Roof and windows are beautiful, hood is perfect.”
Along with the car, Mark received pictures of Perry Wayne, a skinny 20-year old, standing next to his new car in front of the barracks where he was stationed.
“When I bought the car and was getting ready to load it on the trailer, I told Perry Wayne I wanted a picture of him standing in front of the car. He walked up to the car and put his arm on the roofline, and you would not believe how similar that photo looks to the one from 40 years before. It’s the wildest thing, kind of cool.”
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