Editor’s Note: Much of this story first appeared in Hemming’s Classic
Car, November 2010. It was written by Richard Lentinello, editor in chief, and is
excerpted by permission.
Dealer Phil Garner of Hopewell Junction, New York still drives the Plymouth Barracuda
he purchased new in 1968.
More remarkable, the car runs on the original engine. In August 2010 the odometer
read 438,000 miles.
AMSOIL Dealer Phil Garner (top photo) in 1968 when he bought his 1968 Barracuda.
It continues to serve as his daily vehicle (bottom picture) with the original engine.
Garner said the reason the engine has lasted nearly a half-million miles without
requiring any major work other than a valve job is because he has been using AMSOIL
synthetic oil since the mid-1970s. “I understood AMSOIL was one of the best
products out there,” Garner said. “It seems to be true because the inside
of the old 318 (cubic inch, V-8) still looks clean, with no varnish or sludge anywhere.”
He uses AMSOIL 20W-50 Synthetic Premium Protection Motor Oil (ARO). He relies on
AMSOIL Severe Gear® Synthetic 75W-140 Gear Lube (SVO) for the four-speed transmission
Garner said the car’s quality construction coupled with consistent maintenance
have kept the car running smoothly.
“Not much has gone wrong with the car; it just keeps on running. I just keep
after things,” he said. “I change the coolant ever year, and every 100,000
miles, I automatically rebuild the carburetor and have a local electric-motor repair
shop replace the brushes in the alternator; at the same miles, I replace both the
water and fuel pumps to prevent breakdowns. At about 350,000 miles, I replaced the
timing chain and performed a valve job. The brake rotors have been in the car for
42 years now, but the rear drums have been changed once and the lower ball joints
have been replaced once, too, although I did have to change the clutch three times.”
Tough Miles for Family Car
The car has not been coddled in its long life. Phil and his wife, Ellen, love to
see the country’s beauty and started traveling in the convertible in their
20s. They’ve driven it through 49 states and every Canadian province.
The Garners like the outdoors, so along with their children they hauled a camper
and boat, sometimes as much as 3,500 pounds. “I have always loved to drive
the Barracuda,” Garner said. “It’s not new, and today it could
use some front-end work, but the car still passes state inspection every year. The
shifting is a little sloppy compared to modern cars, but it’s OK. It still
handles well, and is great in the turns. I feel safe in the Barracuda; it’s
a rugged car.”
Preventing rust has been the greatest challenge to preserving the car’s originality,
according to Garner. He uses AMSOIL Heavy Duty Metal Protector (AMH). “It’s
like a wax; it never really hardens and is great for undercoating,” he said.
“I go over the car every year looking for spots that need a touch-up; special
attention is given to the brake lines.”
It was treated with a rust-proofer in the 1970s, he said.
“Nowadays, I always try to keep it clean, waxed and greased, and I never drive
it too hard.”
“What I like most about the car is its history of being our family car,”
Garner said. “The kids were raised with the Barracuda. I love how well it
runs with so many miles. Never any problems at all. We’ve taken many long
trips in it, yet the Barracuda has never failed us. Never. The miles just go on
and on. If a car is solid to begin with, proper care will make it last a very long