Tom Jones of Thunder Bay, Ontario and Ralph Beckman of Providence, Rhode Island have run several European Vintage Rallies together, always in machinery common to the European rally scene of the 1950s and 1960s. But they will have a newly restored American car when they take on the Monte Carlo Historique in January, 2001. Beckman has recently completed a restoration of his 1967 Plymouth Barracuda, and it is on its way acros the Atlantic where the rumble of its Chrysler V8 will be a stark contrast to the higher revving sixes and fours common to European autos.
Beckman acquired this 'Cuda new in 1967, and has now restored it under FIA Appendix K, Group G, for Historic Rallying.
Photo by Lars Gange.
Beckman acquired the Barracuda new in 1967, as part payment for being the navigator on the factory Chrysler Rally Team in 1967. It has been restored to duplicate the similar car that Scott Harvey and Beckman drove to a win at the 1968 Shell 4000 in Canada, the first time an American manufacturer ever won a World Championship Rally.
"There were several of the top international factory teams and drivers in that event," said Beckman. "Paddy Hopkirk was there in a Mini, Tony Fall was there, and a South African Datsun team. We beat them all despite having a handicap based on engine size. At the time we had to go 10 percent faster than Hopkirk's Mini on a stage to beat him. While we had an advantage on the straights, the Minis were always very quick through the corners."
This car was one of three provided to the Chrysler Rally Team, but was not as highly modifed as the Harvey rally 'Cuda. Beckman did use it on many SCCA National TSD rallies in the late 1960s and into the 1970s. The restoration has taken two solid years of work, with the body and paint handled by AutoRustTech of Providence, and the prep work by Vermont Sports Car and by Beckman. The Barracuda has been built to the Group II Grand Touring homologation specifications that were in effect in the late 1960s, with safety updates that fall into line with the FIA Appendix K for Historic Rallying. Under the hood is a 340 CID Chrysler V8, mated to an aluminum case 4-speed transmission. Though many final drive ratios are allowed, Beckman will be using a 4.11:1 ring and pinion in the differential.
1967 magazine ad for the Barracuda, headlined "Sally and Dennis Koelmoll's idea of a weekend drive in the country".
"One of the more limiting factors is the tires," said Beckman. "The rules limit tire choice to 70-series profile, and there aren't many companies that still build those, much less in a performance tire."
Photos of the Barracuda's Restoration
The Monte Carlo Historique
There are now at least three winter Vintage Rallies that utilize the classic Monte Carlo roads and mountain passes, but there is only one organized by the Automobile Club de Monaco, the organizers of the Monte Carlo Rallye and the Monaco Grand Prix race for many decades. While the World Rally Championship version of the Monte Carlo Rallye has become a two-day, all daylight event, the Monte Carlo Historique is run like the Monte's of old, with six start locations and the instructions in French. Jones and Beckman have chosen to start in Reims, France. The MCH runs from January 26 to 31.
"We finished third (of 250) two years ago in a Lotus Cortina," said Beckman, "last year the engine in the Cortina blew up on the third day and this year we're going to win in the Barracuda or at least give it a solid try."
In keeping with the "Vintage" traditions, all navigational gear must be mechanical, so the 'Cuda has been outfitted with a Halda Twinmaster for distance measurement, and Beckman will be using a Curta mechanial calculator and a Heuer Sebring rally clock to keep the team on time.
This past September, Jones and Beckman competed in the Classic Marathon (Ypres to San Remo) in the Lotus Cortina. Though their scores would have put them into the top ten overall, one 15 minute error dropped them to 19th place at the finish.
Beckman intends to leave the Barracuda in Europe with plans to run several Historic Rallies each year. One of those on the top of his list for this year is the 1000 Lakes in Finland.