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Story by Terry Denomme
Photos by Kevin Uy

The story of Bad Fish has a common beginning with an uncommon ending.

Like many teenagers, Burnaby, BC’s Les Woodward fell in love with a car he couldn’t afford. It was 1965 and the second year Plymouth Barracuda caught the young Mopar’s fan attention. It would never let it go.

“My father always had Chrysler products so I grew up around Fargos, Dodges, Belvederes, you name it,” says Woodward, a retired boat builder. “I always liked the looks of those first generation Barracudas but never had the money to buy one.”

The majority of hot rodders can relate to the rest of the story. Family and business took over Woodward’s life and the loyal Pentastar buyer  for a while even transitioned into a GM man. “I got tired of losing money on trade-ins so I started driving Chevys,” he says with a laugh.

As he approached retirement in the mid-2000s Woodward decided it was time to start playing with cars instead of boats and naturally he went back to his roots and bought a 1939 Plymouth coupe that he street rodded and powered with a 5.7 Hemi. As fun as that build and that car was, and still is, the Barracuda still haunted his memories. He decided he would find one and start building it in 2009, the year he was going to retire from the boat business. He didn’t have to go far to find his ’65 Barracuda. “My business was located in a place called Shelter Island Marina in Richmond, BC,” says Woodward. “This car was parked in a parking lot, on a trailer right beside my business. The windshield was out and there was a tarp over it because of a dash fire.” It was a 340, 4-speed car but that didn’t matter, because neither would be in the car long if he could get his mitts on it. His vision of what he wanted to build had been simmering for decades and included a Hemi and a Pro Street vibe,

“I actually had been driving by the car for two or three years and I talked to the owner casually a couple of times but he didn’t want to sell it,” says Woodward. “Then about six months before I planned to retire he came to me and said, ‘OK, I’ve got to get rid of it now, do you want it?’ So, now I had my car.”

He couldn’t wait to get into the project so before he retired the car was stripped to a bare shell and sent to Reddi Strip so he could see how much car would emerge from the chemical dip. Save for a couple of floor pans, trunk pan and the rear quarters the car was pretty solid.

As a boat builder and boat repair specialist, the skills required to fabricate such a car were not foreign to Woodward.  “It’s easy if you take your time and make a template,” says Woodward. “It might take two or three times to get the template right then you transfer it onto the steel.”

He went to work replacing the floor and trunk pans, rear inner fender tubs and built a C-channel for custom frame connectors and built rear frame rails as well. He’s particularly proud of the work he’s done under the car. “When you look under the car you would never know it wasn’t done at the factory.” While he could do a lot himself there are a few key individuals who made a big impact on the project.

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