JANUARY 29,2014 (FEBRUARY 2014): 1964 BARRACUDA- ITS FIRST OWNER TELLS HIS STORY OF TEENAGE LOVE

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A bright red 1964 Barracuda was perched on the hill at a car show and we wanted to talk to its owner.

 

The story behind the car made the owner concept a part of the big picture about the car because the Barracuda’s first owner was not the current owner.

 

But Lavern Matter had plenty to say about his first car.

 

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Lavern donated his beloved first car to the world-famous Reynolds Museum in Wetaskiwin, Alberta, Canada.

 

He was a 14-year-old farm kid in 1962 when he began to plan for his first car purchase as a 16-year-old two years in the future in ’64 when he would get his driver’s license.

 

Lavern’s father gave him a simple game plan: raise hogs and sell enough of them to buy a brand new car with the proceeds.

 

He was able to raise 3000 dollars by the time he got his license in ’64 and hit the local Chrysler dealership where a brand new 1964 Barracuda awaited him-for 3200 bucks.

 

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The choice between the Barracuda and a Valiant sedan really boiled down to the fact Lavern liked the red paint job. A flashy red car at high school seemed like a great plan to a young Lavern.

 

His father gave him the extra 200 dollars to cover the difference and Lavern was a newly-licensed 16-year-old driver with a sporty new car from the Mopar stable.

 

The car was a Slant Six tower of power with a floor shift and was bullet-proof during its long history with Lavern.

 

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Unfortunately, in 1966 a driver blew a yield sign and smacked into the front fender of the Barracuda, so Lavern re-painted the car. In 1967, Lavern drove his Barracuda across the country to attend Expo 67 in Montreal, Quebec.

 

His future wife learned how to drive a standard in the car and it also took them on their honeymoon. Lavern lived in the country and commuted to his airport job through some pretty ugly weather.

 

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In fact he recalled a brutal winter when he could not hear his engine running while driving down a snowy road.

 

He looked under the hood and found the engine compartment packed with snow-but the little six was still running like a top.

 

The Barracuda always got him to work in any conditions because it “drove through anything” in Lavern’s words.This year would have marked a 50th anniversary for Lavern and his first car.

 

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We caught up to him at the annual Reynolds Museum History Mile car show last year where we found Lavern and his family around the Barracuda because it was now a part of the show.

 

Lavern wanted to ensure his car would be “kept in a great place”, so he chose to donate his beloved first car to the Reynolds people to ensure it would be well looked-after for many years as part of their collection.

 

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Lavern and his family have visitation rights at Reynolds any time they want to see the car and the annual show was a good time to reunite with the family heirloom.

 

Talk about a happy ending for a boy and his first car.

 

Jim Sutherland

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