Parts catalog pilot car
In the “early 2000s” Holgar Kurschner of Wellsville, New York, was intrigued by a 1969 Plymouth 340 Formula S Barracuda convertible that his cousins, Charlie and Ed Sanders, had stored in an outbuilding with “other machinery” on their farm near Charlestown, Indiana.
Holgar says, “They were going to fix it. I told them to let me know if they ever decided to get rid of it.”
Sell time came in 2016. Advertising the car on Craigslist turned up “crackpots” and “idiots” with “stupid offers.” In contrast, Holgar’s offer was “close enough” to his cousins’ asking price and would keep the Mopar in the family.
Holgar owns a shop and has been restoring cars for a living for 30 years, but he specializes in the midsize Chrysler B-Body rather than the smaller A-Body, which includes the 1969 Barracuda. “I’m not a big A-Body guy,” he says, “but I like convertibles.”
Once he got the car home, Holgar was intrigued by several special features on the rare Barracuda, starting with the early serial number, 100026. The data tag had a job number, which he said “is usually from the first day of production.”
His cousins had replaced the original 340, which had a cracked block, with another
340 bored 0.030 over and fitted with a hot cam. Luckily, they had saved the original 340, which Holgar fished out of the barn when he picked up the car.
“They got the engine and transmission done, back in, got the car running, and that’s as far as they got.”
Holgar noticed the original 340 still had factory red paint, which is the color Chrysler used in 1968 rather than the turquoise common for 1969. Apparently, Chrysler hadn’t yet “changed over the engine color” at this early stage of production.
Chrysler had also stamped the serial number on a “piece of 12-gauge metal welded on the oil rail pan,” rather than “on the machined pad” above the oil rail that was eventually selected for 1969 model engines.
This Barracuda was an early car, possibly a pilot car, meaning some hand-assembly was done before Chrysler settled on build procedure. Holgar publicized the car on “I think Moparts or one of those websites” seeking information.
He received an email from Washington State from a man who wrote, “Do you realize what this car is?”
Holgar says, “He had known the car since the mid 1970s. Turns out this guy had traced this car to be the car that is in the Chrysler parts book.”
“Advertising the car turned up ‘crackpots’ and ‘idiots’ with ‘stupid offers’”
n The original 340 had a cracked block. The Sanders brothers replaced it with another 340.
n The 1969 Formula S convertible is one of 83 automatics ever built. The Alpine White paint is original, and the car is equipped with air conditioning, an AM/FM radio, a Performance Meter (vacuum gauge in the dash), power steering, and power drum brakes.
n New owner Holgar Kurschner fished the original block, which was cracked, from the barn to reveal history. He had “never seen anything like this,” referring to the 12-gauge metal tag welded to the block near the oil pan rail.