Matt Conrad, 32, of Perry, enjoys owning something people don’t see every day — a 1966 Barracuda he has completely restored.
The black paint glimmers in the sun, and the chrome glistens on the car as he talks about the history of the vehicle and his work.
“My father came across the Barracuda in a field when he was out with his metal detector one day. That was in about 1983,” Conrad says.
His father, Gerald Conrad, also of Perry, reworked the car and traded the Barracuda to a friend in 1989. It wasn’t until 2005 when Matt Conrad bought the car back from his father’s friend.
“When I got it, it needed a lot of work. Once I got the car, I spent three years working on it,” Conrad says. “The first year I kept it drivable, and the next year I worked on the interior. Finally, the third year I worked on the body.”
Even before he refurbished the body, he was getting second-place finishes in car shows. The sheet metal is original, with the the trunk lid being only body part replaced
“There are Barracudas out there, but to restore a good one takes some work,” he says.
He also changed the engine size from a 340 cubic inch to a 418 cubic inch. It has a six-pack, three individual two-barrel carburetors.
Conrad particularly liked the idea that the car once belonged to his father, but his feelings went further than that.
“I guess you could say there was a little incentive to make it even better than when Dad had it,” he said with a grin.
By the time he was finished with the car, he believes he met that goal. “Yea, my dad would say the same thing, and has,” he says.
Since finishing the car, the Barracuda has won numerous first-place awards, including two Best of Shows, one in the Mopars on Review car show in 2010 and then in 2011 at the Adel Brick Street Classic. Best of Show means the Barracuda has been named the best car out of all the entries, not just one division.
Conrad works on keeping his Barracuda in shape at his home garage, even though he owns Conrad Body Shop. He took the business over from his father, who retired after 30 years of owning the shop. He figures he began helping his father work on cars when he was about 8 years old.