Don’t let the cool demeanor of this 1971 Plymouth Barracuda fool you. Taking on the appearance of the Clark Kent of musclecars, Gil Haas has taken to building the perfect beast by combining old school and new school, and this ride is definitely Superman in disguise. Beginning with a partially started project car that needed to be completed, Gil had some plans for this contender for the 2016 Street Machine of the Year award at the 19th Goodguys PPG Nationals in Columbus, Ohio.
If the bright, Green with Envy paint doesn’t create ocular arousal, then maybe some of the other details might draw you in to take a closer look. One of the first things we noticed about EVOLVER was the six-lug wheels, which means Viper territory to most any Mopar aficionado. It’s not rare to see a set of Viper wheels or brakes on a classic musclecar from the 1960s or 1970s, but even that little hint doesn’t give you the full picture of what’s under that slithery green skin.
Gil’s goal with this car when he got it over three years ago was to build a driveable car that he could take on the Power Tour. That’s a helluva goal, and that means that the car has to be comfortable, as well as dependable. But you can’t just stop there, and Gil didn’t. When he acquired the car, it had a Dodge Viper suspension under it already, but it was far from the car it is today; it was still in the planning stages at that point.
Gil met up with Mike Staveski of RMR Dream Cars, Inc., and the project began. The rolling canvas that became EVOLVER has not just any Viper suspension, it’s sporting the Viper ACR suspension, and that means that this ’71 E-body is already going to be better handling than most everything on the road. So how did Gil come up with EVOLVER? Gil said it was a based on the evolution of the car from the Viper (snake) to the Cuda (fish).
As we’re all aware, you can’t just put a Viper ACR suspension under a car and expect it to perform if it doesn’t have the meats to grip the pavement. Forgeline was called upon for a set of one-off six-lug CA3P 18-inch wheels with matte graphite centers and the diamond cut option. Wrapped around those custom Forgelines is a set of 245/40R18 Toyo Proxes up front, and massive 335/30R18 steamrollers in the rear.
Old School, New School, Meet The Local Bully
For power, the reliability of a 392 cubic inch Gen III Hemi crate motor found its way between the custom aprons, and a Magnuson supercharger adds some boost to get this car up close the the Hellcat’s output, turning the crank at roughly 650 horsepower. Custom built headers and custom SpinTech mufflers connect the three-inch dual exhaust.
Behind the blown Gen III Hemi is a Tremec six-speed transmission with a Hurst short-throw shifter, with a custom three-inch driveshaft built by Precision Shaft Technologies. Getting that power to the massive rear meats is a Dana 44 with 3:90 gears.
Once up to speed, stopping the beast from those spirited autocross runs is a set of StopTech brakes with four-piston calipers and ceramic pads. The 14-inch and 13-inch front/rear slotted brake rotors are aided by ABS electric power brakes. It seems the entire drivetrain is a virtual who’s who of power and performance, and it’s all stuffed under that green shell with little room to spare.
The PPG Green with Envy paint has a custom touch with striping on the hood as well as the quarter panels, but that’s not the extent of the exterior touches. Watson’s StreetWorks provided the LED lighting with it’s award-winning LED headlamp kit, and all the remaining lights are LED as well. And you can’t miss the “Hemi” billboard on the quarter panel, or the period-correct rear spoiler.
The attention to detail extends to the tucked and smoothed front and rear bumpers, the shaved door handles and drip rails clean up the smooth lines down the body side, and the flush glass and marker lights delete. All touches that you might not even notice until it’s pointed out to you. Under the hood, the detail is expanded with engine bay covers that allow access to fluid caps, and provide cover for the air filter – which pulls in fresh air through the hood scoops.
Inside the car, the custom Billet Specialties steering wheel is connected to the steering rack via a Flaming River steering column. SpeedHut custom gauges with a GPS speedometer keep track of the vitals, while a Kenwood audio system and Vintage Air provide the creature comforts of cool sounds and cool breezes. Kicker amps and speakers provide the music to the tune of about 900 watts of sound.
More LED lighting resides inside the car, and that super-wide custom console houses a custom burl wood finish plate with switches from Watsons StreetWorks to work the windows and locks. Interior comfort is provided with custom leather upholstery and Mercedes cut pile carpeting. Of course, that console has a lot of custom sheetmetal beneath it to make room for the six-speed Tremec, making for a cozy cabin inside the cockpit.
Goodguys Street Machine Of The Year Competitor
EVOLVER was completed roughly two weeks ago, just in time for the Street Machine of the Year competition at the 19th Annual PPG Nationals in Columbus, Ohio, which is where we met up with Gil and Mike. Though it’s been done for a short time, Gil enjoys driving it as much as he can, which doesn’t give him much seat time since it’s been a short while.
Gill is a bit of a Mopar guy and when he acquire the Barracuda it was something he was looking for, and he did have a plan, which we feel was carried out very well. We missed the autocross action with EVOLVER, which is part of the requirements for the Goodguys award, but we were able to see a couple of pictures of it out on the track, and it looks like fun.
Of course, with a build like this you can probably imagine that throwing the car around through a chalked out course with orange cones begging for you to make a mistake is probably a little nerve racking, especially right before the judging was to begin. But Gil and EVOLVER made it unscathed.
EVOLVER is more than a show car, especially with Gil’s plans to hit the Power Tour, and that makes it pretty cool in our eyes because anyone can trailer a car, but driving it on a long trip is what puts the muscle back into musclecar. Future plans include the Carlisle Chrysler Nationals, SEMA, and Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals, already booked for this fall. Of course, Gil will take the car to as many local shows this summer as he can fit them in.
Some of the other finalists had already won major awards at other shows, so with Gil and his just-finished Barracuda, we expect to see much more of them both in the future, because any car that’s been built the way EVOLVER has, is bound to catch a lot of attention. The combination of old school and new school makes this car driveable, and the addition of the local bully makes it an absolute mean, green (with envy) beast.
There’s much more to EVOLVER than we can share here, but we’ve added a gallery of this gorgeous 1971 Plymouth Barracuda in the gallery below. Alas, the lone Mopar in contention didn’t make it to the top five. We saw a few cookie cutter cars like Camaros and Mustangs push through to the finalists. But that doesn’t mean that EVOLVER is done, not by a long shot, and it’s going to start making its rounds. If you’re at the Carlisle Chrysler Nationals this weekend, look for Mike, Gil, and the Barracuda there – you can’t miss it.