Rob’s Movie Muscle: The ’68 Barracuda Super Stock from Highwaymen

If I asked you what the outright quickest factory muscle car of the 1960s and ’70s was, how would you respond? The 1970 Buick GSX Stage 1? The 1969 Chevrolet Camaro COPO ZL1? Or perhaps the Chevy Chevelle SS 454 LS6?

Those are all excellent guesses, of course, but you wouldn’t take home a free chicken dinner with any of them.

While there were many cars of the period that aspired to hold that title, and a fair number that came close, there could only be one, true apex predator amongst them.

In actuality, the quickest-accelerating car of the Golden Era of muscle was an extremely low-production vehicle issued by Mother Mopar in the most turbulent year of the American sixties.

Figured it out yet?

Well, the award goes to the 1968 Plymouth B029 Super Stock, a variant of the company’s standard Barracuda.

Combining the massive, all-conquering 426 Race Hemi “Elephant” motor with a treasure trove of heavy-duty parts and featherweight body components, the B029 was an absolute missile of a muscle car.

Although exact numbers are not clear, it is thought that only 50 to 70 1968 Plymouth Barracuda B029 Super Stocks were made, and most had short lives due to repetitive quarter-mile runs on drag strips across America.

You would probably share in my surprise then, when a few years ago I discovered that there was a horror movie released in 2004 that seemingly featured this rare and brutal beast.

The movie I’m referring to is Highwaymen, and in this edition of Rob’s Movie Muscle, we’re going to take a good look at the film’s B029 and see if it was the real deal, or just a Hollywood pretender. Are you with me? Then let’s go!

The theatrical movie poster for Highwaymen. (Image courtesy of New Line Cinema.)

Highwaymen focuses on the exploits of a nomadic loner, Rennie Cray (Jim Caviezel), some five years after his wife was intentionally run down by a psychopathic hit-and-run driver, Fargo (Colm Feore).

Obsessed with retribution, Rennie has been roaming the highways of America in pursuit of Fargo, whom he severely wounded but failed to kill in a pursuit immediately after his wife was murdered. This cat-and-mouse game has been going on for several years, with both men failing to bring about the demise of the other.

Jim Caviezel as the film’s protagonist, Rennie Cray. (Photo courtesy of New Line Cinema.)

When a young college student, Molly Poole (Rhona Mitra), is involved in a horrific car accident in a tunnel and is then intentionally almost run down by the wreck’s instigator, Rennie senses his nemesis may be to blame. A visit to the accident site uncovers evidence confirming his suspicions.

Rhona Mitra as Molly Poole. (Photo courtesy of New Line Cinema.)

Teaming up with a hesitant Molly, the two hatch a plan to lure Fargo into a trap so Rennie can put an end to his reign of terror. When Fargo gets the better of Rennie and kidnaps Molly, Rennie must face off with the madman mano a mano, and car to car, to save Molly’s life.

The murderous Fargo, played by Colm Feore. (Photo courtesy of New Line Cinema.)

While Fargo’s car, a weathered and beaten 1972 Cadillac Eldorado, is fascinating itself for the customized controls that allow him to drive in spite of all of his prosthetics and orthopedic fittings, Rennie’s Super Stock easily steals the show for its outrageous looks and raucous sound.

Rennie’s ’68 Plymouth Barracuda B029 Super Stock. (Photo courtesy of New Line Cinema.)

Essentially a hand-assembled car, Rennie’s B029 Super Stock was the result of a partnership between Plymouth and Hurst Performance designed to create the ultimate drag racer.

Assembled at the Hurst factory, the metamorphosis from standard Plymouth Barracuda to B029 started by cramming the massive 426 Race Hemi into an engine bay it was not intended to inhabit. To make the motor fit, Hurst engineers had to actually cut the inside of the car’s shock towers to provide the necessary room.

The Race Hemi, featuring a gargantuan iron block, had a bore and stroke of 4.25-inches x 3.74-inches, and sported a 12.5:1 compression ratio. Breathing was courtesy of dual, 735 cfm, four-barrel Holley carbs residing atop an aluminum crossram intake. Hooker headers and lightweight, side-exiting glass packs handled the exhale.

The B029’s monster 426 Race Hemi. (Photo courtesy of Barrett-Jackson.)

Next to be fitted was the buyer’s choice of transmission – either an A833 four-speed with a heavy-duty clutch, a steel bellhousing, and a Hurst Competition shifter, or a modified A727 TorqueFlite three-speed automatic with a high-speed torque converter and Hurst shifter. Manuals came with a heavy-duty driveshaft and a Dana rear with 4.88 gears. Slushbox cars packed a 4.86:1, 8-3/4-inch differential.

A heavy-duty rear suspension was installed, and owing to the tremendous speed the car would be pulling at the end of a quarter-mile strip, the stock front drum brakes were tossed, and replaced by four-piston discs.

A 1968 Plymouth Barracuda B029 Super Stock. (Photo courtesy of Scott Smith.)

To keep weight at an absolute minimum, Hurst made extensive modifications to the Barracuda’s body. A fiberglass hood, with five hold-down pins allowed for full removal from the car and featured a massive scoop that fed fresh air to the Holleys. The fenders were likewise made of fiberglass.

Acid-etched, lightweight steel doors lacked mirrors and had strap-operated manual windows manufactured from Dow-Corning Chemcor instead of glass.

The stripped interior of a Barracuda B029. (Photo courtesy of Red Hill Rods and Choppers.)

The ultra-stripped-down interior had thin-pile carpeting and non-adjustable bucket seats fastened to the floor via aluminum brackets. Anything non-essential, including a heater, rear seats, and sound deadener was deleted.

When all was said and done, the B029 Super Stock weighed a mere 3,100 pounds. The 426ci engine, while publicly rated at a laughable 425 horsepower, was actually capable of roughly 170 more ponies than that. This yielded an extraordinary power-to-weight ratio, and a low-ten-second quarter-mile at roughly 130 mph straight from the factory.

Rennie’s B029 wearing its faded Vitamin-C orange and matte black paint scheme. (Photo courtesy of New Line Cinema.)

While Super Stocks were originally delivered unpainted, wearing only grey primer with black gelcoat on the front fenders and hood, it wasn’t uncommon for buyers to treat their Super Stock to a custom paint job after taking ownership. A cursory look at Rennie’s B029 in the movie reveals that it had been painted in what looks to have been Plymouth’s Vitamin-C orange with a matte black hood, although both are heavily faded.

Also notable is that the external hallmarks of the B029 seem to be present, including the outrageous air scoop, and that fiberglass hood with pins.

On first glance, Rennie’s Super Stock certainly looks the part. (Photo courtesy of New Line Cinema.)

A closer inspection though reveals that all might not be as it seems.

An aftermarket splitter has been fitted under the car’s front bumpers, and the hood only has four pins instead of the five that the B029 originally came with. The hood scoop also features a “426 Hemi” emblem which was not present from the factory. Circular side marker lights are present on the front fenders, which were likewise not originally on the Super Stock for the sake of weight savings.

Other non-original equipment include a driver’s side mirror, 1970-style, black, hockey stick stripes with “Hemi” call-out on the rear fenders, a custom wood center console with cupholders, a slew of CB and police radios that Rennie uses to track Fargo, and a Hurst pistol-grip shifter in lieu of the OEM Hurst competition ball-type shifter.

The final showdown. (Photo courtesy of New Line Cinema.)

Now, all of these could certainly have been an owner’s “day-two” modifications to make the car street legal or to simply customize it, but my Spidey senses were telling me that they hinted at the car not being genuine, and that some further research was needed.

Sure enough, a few individuals who were involved in the film’s production revealed that three cars were used for the filming of the movie, and none of them were actual B029 Super Stocks.

The hero car, reserved for close-ups and glamour shots, was a Formula S Barracuda equipped with a 340 V8 and a four-speed manual transmission, while the stunt car, used for all of the rough sequences, had a 318 V8 and a three-speed automatic. A non-runner that lacked a powertrain was used for the scene at the end when the Barracuda was totaled in a rollover crash.

Thankfully, a non-runner was used for the Super Stock’s climactic demise. (Photo courtesy of New Line Cinema.)

The hero car was later used in an episode of the television show, Malcolm in the Middle, as well an episode of Criminal Minds, and was later sold on eBay to a collector in Ohio for $5,600. The stunt car was destroyed while filming the movie Herbie: Fully Loaded.

Even though the car in Highwaymen was not a real B029 Super Stock, you’ve got to give credit to the filmmakers for producing a trio of very good facsimiles, and for even knowing what a B029 was in the first place. It suggests that some above-the-line decision-maker on the film was a serious muscle car or Mopar fan, which makes me, a serious muscle car and Mopar fan, very happy. It’s also good to know that a car of the B029’s rarity and value was not subject to the destruction seen on screen.

So there you have it folks, another case of Hollywood movie magic.

Until next time…

About the author

Rob Finkelman

Rob combined his two great passions of writing and cars; and began authoring columns for several Formula 1 racing websites and Street Muscle Magazine. He is an avid automotive enthusiast with a burgeoning collection of classic and muscle cars.
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