1972 Plymouth Barracuda
Richard Brezinski’s Plymouth ’Cuda is just the latest in a long line of magnificent Mopars that have graced his garage. Jon Cass caught up with him to get the lowdown on his latest Pentastar lovely… Words and photography: Jon Cass.
Richard Brezinski is certainly no stranger to the pages of Classic American, though it’s now a few years since we featured his stunning ’72 Dodge Dart, along with his fine example of a ’68 Plymouth Roadrunner. Both cars were fully restored to an extremely high standard and contained numerous period mods; in fact no one could argue Richard has a keen eye for detail when it comes to classic Mopars. When he told us about the latest addition to his enviable collection in the shape of a ‘72 numbers matching genuine 340 Plymouth ’Cuda, we were keen to find out more! Growing up in Halifax, West Yorkshire, Richard was subjected to the sight and sound of Mopars from an early age: “It was hard to miss these cars driving around, they were a popular sight in this area back in the day,“ Richard smiles. “All this obviously had a long-lasting impact on me!”
After leaving school Richard trained as a motor mechanic and soon set up his own business where he honed his skills and was able to carry out any job from a simple service to a full restoration. Various British classics received the Brezinski treatment including a Vauxhall Velox and Brooklands Capri, both of which Richard ran himself. Progression towards a classic Yank was inevitable and soon a ’66 Mercury Comet Cyclone came into his possession. “It seemed like a great introduction into classic Yank ownership,” Richard explains. “The Comet was reasonably cheap too – I fixed it up and ran that one for around a year.”
“I REMOVED THE INTERIOR TO FIT DYNOMAT FLOOR INSULATION AND REFITTED THE SEATS WITH NEW COVERS,” RICHARD POINTS OUT. “IT HAS THE RALLYE GAUGE CLUSTER AND CONSOLE-MOUNTED FLOOR SHIFTER.” STEP INSIDE AND IT REALLY DOES FEEL LIKE YOU’VE GONE BACK IN TIME TO 1972!
As Richard hit the age of 40 and the kids had grown up, he decided this was the ideal time to track down a ’68 Roadrunner, a car he’d always lusted after since being a kid himself. “This was back in 1999 in the early days of the internet. Although there were plenty around, they were much harder to find back then,” Richard remembers. “I looked at one in Blackpool which turned out to be a basket case and a second car looked more promising, but I couldn’t have lived with the combination of green paintwork and a green interior that it came with.”
A year passed and a chance conversation with a fellow MMA club member (Mopar Muscle Association, see: www.moparuk.com) led to the purchase of an early ’68 Roadrunner complete with a 335bhp Hi-Po motor and four-speed manual ’box. “It was an ideal project base, but it had been neglected so I ended up carrying out a full bare metal restoration over the following six years,” Richard recalls. “I was proud of the result and that car won me a lot of trophies. I was sad to see it go around a decade later.”
Now, we’ve already mentioned the ’72 Dart which is still in Richard’s possession and that car happens to share a garage with his ’68 two-door Satellite, along with a ’71 duster and two ’65 Mustangs, a mouth-watering bunch for sure: “I’d just finished the restoration of my white Mustang and had recently sold the Roadrunner, so I suddenly found myself with an extra space inside my garage,” Richard smiles. “I happened to have some funds spare too.”
And it would be a case of being in the right place at the right time, along with a stroke of good luck when it came to finding a car to fill that void in his garage!
“I took my white ’65 Mustang to the Stars & Stripes show in July 2018 and started looking around the other cars on display later in the day,” Richard explains. “Being a huge Mopar fan, it was a certain violet ’72 Cuda that really caught my eye among the many cars in attendance.” On speaking to the owner, Phil Clayton, Richard discovered the car hadn’t changed hands for some 14 years, but had barely been driven in that time. “Phil had only covered 1500 miles since buying the car, which probably explains why I hadn’t seen it around before,” Richard adds. “He also mentioned he’d considered putting it up for sale too which got me thinking…”
Another huge bonus was finding out the ’Cuda had benefited from a meticulous decadelong restoration by its previous owner, a Mr M Oakes, running into many thousands of pounds. “There were receipts for parts and hundreds of hours of labour, but unfortunately Mr Oakes had to sell the car shortly after its completion due to moving abroad, “ Richard adds.
“I carried out a quick inspection and it was apparent the restoration had been done to a very high standard.” Confirmation that this was a genuine high performance ’Cuda model complete with its original 340cu in V8 engine, 727 Torqueflite trans, 8.-inch rear axle, with Suregrip and 3.55 gears was enough to arrange another meeting with the vendor.
“I normally prefer to repair or restore any classics I buy, as I feel that’s where the enjoyment comes from,” Richard tells us. “But numbers matching E-body Mopars like this don’t come up for sale often, so I made an exception this time.” Incredibly, it turned out Phil lived in the next town only a few miles from Richard, which came in handy when a test drive was arranged a few days later. Tracing back the history, the previous registration WLY 200S tells us the ’Cuda was probably imported into the UK as long ago as 1977 (in the Seventies registrations were often assigned to the vehicle’s date of import, rather than manufacture) so there’s always a chance this was one of the many Mopars Richard had seen cruising around locally in his younger days. “I’ve managed to find the names of the previous owners back to 1984, but I’d be keen to trace the car’s history before that. Phil was great to deal with throughout and really helpful,” he continues. “There were a few small jobs that needed doing to make the car perfect, but opportunities such as this don’t come along often and a deal was soon struck.”
Among the recent upgrades, Richard opted to fit 17-inch American US mag wheels which fill the arches better than the original 15-inch Rallye wheels; these, along with the lower profile tyres and KYB shocks, help improve the handling too. The purists may frown a little at those upgraded wheels, but we’d agree these larger rims seem to suit the ‘Cuda’s lines perfectly. As this is a rare, numbers matching E-body, engine modifications to the fully rebuilt 340 have been sensibly restricted to subtle upgrades. A 600cfm vacuum secondary Holley carb, Weiand aluminium intake with Mopar electronic ignition and Mopar Performance valve covers vastly improve the responsiveness and performance according to Richard and you may have spotted that Hi torque mini starter, which is a recent addition.
“I removed the interior to fit Dynomat floor insulation and refitted the seats with new covers,” Richard points out. “It has the Rallye gauge cluster and console-mounted floor shifter.” Step inside and it really does feel like you’ve gone back in time to 1972! Even on close inspection, it’s impossible to fault the quality of the In Violet paintwork (Code FC7), an identical shade to Dodge’s own Plum Crazy. An AAR ’Cuda rear spoiler and AAR ’Cuda strobe black body stripes were added during the restoration, while the underside has been detailed throughout too. Fresh chromework and a new vinyl roof continue that flawless theme, though E-body fans may have spotted the 70/71 spec rear tail panel and lamps on this ’72 car.
“The styling details of the earlier model are generally more desirable and to match the tail panel, I plan to fit flush-mounted side parking lamps and tuck in the bumpers and fit 70/71 spec front spot lamps,” Richard points out. There’s no hurry to make these subtle changes though as Richard is content owning such an immaculate E-body Mopar in its current guise, especially one that drives this well.
“It’s a fantastic car to own and cruise around in and I feel I’m very lucky to have such a rare and iconic muscle car in my collection,” he says. Whether another void will appear in the Brezinski garage soon, we’re not sure, but we imagine Richard’s collection will continue to evolve and expand as it always has. In fact, he’s already making swift progress with his second ’65 Mustang, this time painted red. If this ’72 Cuda is anything to go by, we’re looking forward to making a return visit sometime soon.
Rear panel and lights are ’71 spec. Room for a little one!
TECH SPEC1972 Plymouth ’Cuda
- ENGINE: 340cu in V8 Holley carb Weiland intake Mopar electronic ignition Mopar Performance valve covers Hi-Torque mini starter
- TRANSMISSION: Torqueflite 727 8¾in rear axle with Suregrip and 3.55 gears
- SUSPENSION: KYB shocks
- WHEELS & TYRES: US American 17in mag wheels 225/45/17 tyres (front) 225/50/17 tyres (rear)
- BRAKES: All Power brakes
- EXTERIOR: In Violet paint – Code FC7 AAR rear spoiler AAR strobe black body stripes ’71 spec rear panel and lights
- INTERIOR: Rallye gauge cluster Console-mounted floor shifter Re-covered seats
Dynamat floor sound insulation. Seats have been re-covered. Low-profile tyres and KYB shocks improve the ’Cuda’s handling.