Field Guide to Wasteland Vehicles: Hell Fish

Believe it or not, there are actually TWO second-generation Plymouth Barracudas roaming the wastelands, and both of them are pretty neat cars.  This is one of their stories.  Cricket Mechsner is the owner of the Hell Fish.
The 1967 Barracuda was found for $900 out of a barn, and used as a project for Mechsner’s automotive degree.  Rather than a factory restoration of the derelict, though, it was decided to take the car in a new direction.  “We both thought it was a beautifully designed 60’s MoPar that deserves attention. But even with restoration and a shiny paint job, this car would still get lost in a crowd at a car show or even in a parking lot.  The Cuda needed to have an identity, it deserved it. So, we embraced its dirt, it’s rust, everything that set it apart from a show car and we turned it into a monster. Haha! Now its the Hell Fish in a little pond. “

Once that direction was decided, Mechsner turned to the mechancals, which ended up an exotic patchwork of MoPar bits.  The engine and transmission became classwork! “I was the third female to ever get a automotive degree at my junior college, but the only one my graduating year, to have built a running car,” says the proud owner.   Out of the barn, the Hellfish was equipped with a 
273 V8 with a oblong cylinder that was already bored 60 over and damaged.  Mechsner decided to scrap it and started over with a 318 V8 (also 60 over) but with a viable block.  The engine ended up up at 62 over, making it around a 328 cubic-inch engine.  A wiring loom from a ’68 Polara was combined with body wiring from a ’74 B200 van to replace the missing electricals on the original car.  Beyond that the Hell Fish features what its owner refers to as a “pretty basic old school performance build:  MoPar purple 761 cam, tcs shift kit, etc.  Changed the little rear axle to a 8-1/4 sure grip, out of a ’76 Aspen four-speed and added 3.55 gears out of a ’92 Cherokee.  An electric cooling fan from a ’98 Sebring is also isntalled, to help keep the engine comfortable in the desert.  Leaf springs are out of a ’98 Durango, resulting in a about a four inch lift, allowing for 31×10.5 rear tires.”  The front drum brakes were converted to discs using parts from three different body style Chryslers (a ’69 Coronet, ’74 Dart and ’78 Diplomat to be specific).

In addition to the body lift, the Hell Fish features a scrap metal Mohawk on the roof, a custom-built crash bumper with a lot of salvaged flair, and a cargo rack at the rear.  At Wasteland Weekend, the car spends time with the Disciples of the Deez, as that’s Mechsner’s tribe.