Noble Savage: Auto Craft's Savage Barracuda-based GT


The ’67-’69 Barracuda was already one of the most interesting and sexy, if underappreciated, muscle cars out there. While most were fitted with vanilla 318s to soothe the average beast (and precious few with the 383 Super Commando), a few Barracudas were ravaged by Auto Craft of Wisconsin, who slapped enough go-fast bits on ’em to earn them their Savage nomenclature.

Perhaps the most noticeable differences were on the exterior – the split-element grille was ditched in favor of a piece that resembled a Scamp grille, and foreshadowed the ’70 ‘Cuda grille. A hood scoop and tail spoiler rounded out the cosmetic changes. Of course, to hear one start up (particularly the 440 versions) was, to quote the Motor Trend reviewer in the must-read article below, “like zero hour for a squadron of Spads.” You see, in the grand tradition of all things badass, the GT exhaled through a set of barely muffled sidepipes the size of water mains just behind the doors. Then there was the extensive roll cage, dangling racing harnesses for the front passengers.

Suspension modifications were extensive. Up front, heavy duty torsion bars, adjustable shocks, and a Shur-Guide constant-tension steering stabilizer kept things pointed the right way. Out back, heavy duty springs and adjustable shocks were coupled with adjustable traction bars for better axle location during savage acceleration.

Three engines were offered, all modified from stock. The first was the LA-series 340, which came not with a six-pack as it was most legendarily outfitted with, but instead with an aluminum intake manifold sprouting a 4-barrel carburetor of indescribed make, with 10.5:1 compression. While it had 200 less pounds over the front wheels and was probably the best of the three versions, it’s hard not to feel the gravitational pull of the 383 and the 440 options, which had similar modifications to the 340.

Of course, after gravity there’s another important natural force to consider – intertia. The stock late-’60s radials weren’t really grippy enough to keep the rear end from becoming an illustration of the pendulum concept, and the stock brakes (and even the available upgraded 4-wheel discs offered by Auto Craft) struggled to haul the Savage down from speed. It’d be quite simple for a modern owner to bolt up some Wilwood units and source some sticker but period-correct-looking rubber for usability’s sake, and we wouldn’t begrudge them that. Hell, we wouldn’t begrudge them anything if they could find one – the surviving Savage GTs make hen’s teeth seem more common than metaphors in a auto journalists’s repertoire!
Driving impressions via Just a Car Guy. Ad scans via the For A Bodies Only forum by way of Hamtrack.

7 Comments

  1. As awesome as a Savage would be to own, I personally would gravitate towards the 340/4-speed. After all, I'd like my pricey, special muscle/ponycar to be able to corner without massive understeer.

  2. I really enjoyed this read. The Barracuda is my personal favorite muscle car, and the Savage is pretty damn serious. I would love to see one in person.

  3. I went to highschool with a guy in Louisa County, VA, early seventies, that had a original Savage – it was a screamer for sure and probably the finest of all the muscle cars in the county, well, maybe, at the time…

  4. I grew up in Fond du Lac and I remember one Savage still being around in the late 80's-early 90's. If I remember correctly it was getting pretty rusty. I have no idea what the specs were or what ever happened to it. I had forgotten all about it until I was looking up some cuda pictures and saw it. Seeing those side pipes and rims jogged my memory back, it was truly one of a kind.

    1. Hello The Wanderer! I live near Fon Du Lac and am looking for this very Savage that you mentioned seeing! Is there any information you can tell me about the Savage you saw or send me some pictures? Thanks!!

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