Family Heirloom: Eric Marcoccio’s 1968 Plymouth Barracuda

Author: Bradley Iger | 11/25/2020 < Back to Motor Life Home

For most families, the heirlooms that get passed down from one generation to another tend to be things like watches and dinnerware sets. But for the Marcoccios, the constant that’s been around for more than half a century is a 1968 Plymouth Barracuda.

“This Barracuda was a big influence on me growing up,” says Eric Marcoccio, a corporate accountant from Dracut, Massachusetts. “My grandfather bought it new in March of 1969, and I just thought it was so cool – everyone in my family did, really. And that cool factor never really wore off for us; if anything, it just got cooler over the years.”

While the 318-powered ‘Cuda had enough motivation to be a fun little performance machine, its initial role was that of the typical family car. “It was the practical workhorse: it was used for commuting, trips to the mall, whatever was needed,” Eric says. “Over the years it bounced around within the family – my uncle drove it for a bit, and my father later drove it into Boston for work for a while. Then in 1987, when my grandfather retired and my grandparents moved to Florida, he took the car with him and had it freshened up a bit so he could enjoy it in his retirement.”

Eric knew the Cuda would eventually end up back in Massachusetts, though. “I’d always had an interest in the car growing up, and he had promised it to me when I got my license,” he recalls. “So he gave me the ‘Cuda when I turned 16, it was the ultimate gift.”

Although he was working with the limited budget of a high school student, Eric got started on transforming the Plymouth into more of a hot rod shortly thereafter. “First thing I did was wheels and tires, of course – I wanted to get some Cragars on it! That alone added a lot of personality, and I drove it like that for a bit. Eventually I saved up enough money to rebuild and hop up the 318, so my dad and I went to the local speed shop and got a cam, carb, intake, and headers for it. That really woke it up – it was a lot louder and a lot more fun at that point.”

But as is the case with many hot rod projects, it was only a matter of time before Eric was itching for even more performance. “After a few years I decided I wanted to put a 360 in it. I had that engine built by a local guy, and when I put it back in the car, I started having all of these issues with it. The cam never really broke in correctly and I was having ignition problems, and it became kind of a nightmare for me at the time, so the car just got put away for a while.”

Hiding under the factory air cleaner is a Holley Terminator X Stealth fuel injection system, which provides fuel and spark control over the 410ci, stroked magnum engine. The Terminator X Stealth plays the part of a Holley 4150 carb keeping the engine bay factory-esque. “Since the goal was to keep it as original-looking as I could, the Terminator Stealth really fit the bill,” Eric tells us.

The Barracuda spent the next decade and a half in a deep sleep while Eric turned his attention to a Pontiac Firehawk. Then, after selling the Pontiac in 2010, he brought the Barracuda out of hibernation with the intention of restoring it back to its former glory. “It went to a shop in New Hampshire for bodywork and paint, and I quickly started to realize how expensive a project like this can get,” he says with a laugh. “It wiped me out for a while, so I brought it home and it sat like that for a few years in my garage. I was just a little gun-shy about tackling the mechanical aspects of the project after that because of how quickly things can snowball. But eventually I got into a comfortable spot, and that’s when Mike Mancini got a hold of it.”

Marcoccio notes that the car actually ended up at Mancini’s shop largely by coincidence. “His shop had done a lot of the interior pieces for me, and Legendary Auto Interiors accidentally shipped the carpet to his shop rather than to my home. Mike called me and we got to talking about the build, and that’s what led to us working together to complete the project.”

While Eric wanted the Barracuda to look and drive like a mostly-stock example, the car’s capability has been significantly elevated from where it was in its heyday. Under the hood is a 360ci Magnum V8 that’s been stroked and punched out to 410 cubes and outfitted with a Mahle crank, Comp Cams camshaft, Diamond pistons, Edelbrock Performer RPM cylinder heads and intake, TTI exhaust, and a Holley HyperSpark ignition system.

Now dishing out 450 horsepower and 500 lb-ft of torque, the built small-block delivers performance that’s on another level when compared to the warmed-over 318 that Marcoccio wrenched on back in his teenager years. But he points out that usability was the ultimate goal here, and that’s why he opted to ditch the carburetor and make the switch to a Holley Terminator Stealth EFI system. “The Terminator Stealth system was a no brainer for me. It looks like the 4150 at a glance, but you get all the benefits of modern technology. The thing just starts up instantly and goes like hell; it’s awesome. The Holley EFI system is just such a quality piece of equipment, and being able to tune the car with a laptop makes it much easier to live with.”

With the finishing touches on the project now being applied, Eric’s anxious to get the Barracuda back on the road so he can put in some miles. “The car’s basically brand new to me now,” he says. “I can’t wait to show it to my mother – it’s been kept a secret because I really want to surprise my family with it. COVID kind of screwed up the original plan, so right now I’m just really looking forward to the day that I can just show up at my mom’s house with it.”

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