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Jay Leno Checks Out Craig Jackson's Plymouth Barracuda Trans-Am Racer: Video


The Trans-Am series is best known for wheel-to-wheel racing between the Ford Mustang and the Chevrolet Camaro, especially during the height of its popularity from 1968 to 1972.

More than just Mustangs and Camaros ran in its Over 2.0 Liter class, with factory-backed teams also fielding Mercury Cougars, AMC Javelins, Pontiac Firebirds, Dodge Challengers and even Plymouth Barracudas.

Chrysler’s Plymouth division was a latecomer to the Trans-Am party, with the first factory-backed cars prepared by Dan Gurney’s All American Racers for the 1970 season. Three cars were built (though one was crashed mid-season), and driving duties were handled by Dan Gurney and Swede Savage.

To comply with Trans-Am rules, the Plymouth’s 340 cubic-inch engine was destroked to displace just 302 cubic inches. Dan Gurney campaigned car number 48 throughout the 1970 season, and drove his last professional race before retirement in the car at Riverside, California, in October of 1970.

Plymouth pulled out of Trans-Am racing following the 1970 season, so the car was sold to Chrysler France for its efforts at Le Mans. The stock motor was swapped for a Hemi V-8, and the car saw action at the 1971 and 1972 runnings of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Sadly, it failed to finish the event in both attempts.

Craig Jackson, the man behind the Barrett-Jackson auctions, purchased the car in 2005 and campaigns it in Sportscar Vintage Racing Association competition. In its current form, with the original destroked 340 V-8, Jackson says the car makes 505 horsepower at the crank, which we guess is more than enough to deliver serious fun behind the wheel.

Not that we’d want to drive it in competition ourselves, though. A car like this is irreplaceable, and we know from first-hand experience that things often go wrong in racing. We tip our caps to Craig Jackson for using the car as it was designed, and not leaving it to rot in a museum.
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