Editor’s Note: Much of this story first appeared in the November 2010 issue of Hemming’s Classic Car. It was written by Editor-in-Chief Richard Lentinello and is excerpted by permission.
Phil Garner, of Hopewell Junction, N.Y., still drives the Plymouth Barracuda he purchased new in 1968.
More remarkable, the car runs on the original engine. In August 2010 the odometer read 438,000 miles (704,900 km).
Garner said the reason the engine has lasted nearly a half-million miles without requiring any major work other than a valve job is because he has been using AMSOIL synthetic motor oil since the mid-1970s. “I understood AMSOIL was one of the best products out there,” Garner said. “It seems to be true because the inside of the old 318 (cubic inch V-8) still looks clean, with no varnish or sludge anywhere.”
He uses AMSOIL 20W-50 Synthetic Premium Protection Motor Oil. He relies on AMSOIL SEVERE GEAR® 75W-140 Synthetic Gear Lube for the four-speed transmission and differential.
Garner said the car’s quality construction coupled with consistent maintenance have kept the car running smoothly.
“Not much has gone wrong with the car; it just keeps on running. I just keep after things,” he said. “I change the coolant ever year, and every 100,000 miles (160,000 km), I automatically rebuild the carburetor and have a local electric-motor repair shop replace the brushes in the alternator; at the same miles, I replace both the water and fuel pumps to prevent breakdowns. At about 350,000 miles (563,000 km), I replaced the timing chain and performed a valve job. The brake rotors have been in the car for 42 years now, but the rear drums have been changed once and the lower ball joints have been replaced once, too, although I did have to change the clutch three times.”
1968 Barracuda: Tough Miles For A Family Car
The car has not been coddled in its long life. Phil and his wife, Ellen, love to see the country’s beauty and started traveling in the convertible in their 20s. They’ve driven it through 49 states and every Canadian province.
The Garners like the outdoors, so along with their children they hauled a camper and boat, sometimes as much as 3,500 pounds. “I have always loved to drive the Barracuda,” Garner said. “It’s not new, and today it could use some front-end work, but the car still passes state inspection every year. The shifting is a little sloppy compared to modern cars, but it’s OK. It still handles well, and is great in the turns. I feel safe in the Barracuda; it’s a rugged car.”
Preventing rust has been the greatest challenge to preserving the car’s originality, according to Garner. He uses AMSOIL Heavy Duty Metal Protector. “It’s like a wax; it never really hardens and is great for undercoating,” he said. “I go over the car every year looking for spots that need a touch-up; special attention is given to the brake lines.”
It was treated with a rust-proofer in the 1970s, he said.
“Nowadays, I always try to keep it clean, waxed and greased, and I never drive it too hard.
“What I like most about the car is its history of being our family car,” Garner said. “The kids were raised with the Barracuda. I love how well it runs with so many miles. Never any problems at all. We’ve taken many long trips in it, yet the Barracuda has never failed us. Never. The miles just go on and on. If a car is solid to begin with, proper care will make it last a very long time.”