December 15, 2018
With heavy hearts, we have some sad news to share. It is a somber day for friends of the Motown Missile and friends of Ebbie Merritt. Ebbie, passed away peacefully, in his sleep on Saturday, December 15, 2018. He was more than just one of the owners of the Missile. Ebbie was a great friend to all of us here at the body shop.
Ebbie is pictured in this photo on the far left. Next to him is Mark Williamson, then Dick Oldfield, and George Paul. Without the Ebbie and Mark, the Motown Missile would not be restored to it's former beauty. Dick was one of the original team members and builder of the 'Cuda Missile. These four men met on the day this photo was taken, to verify the authenticity of the 1972 Barracuda as the Motown Missile. This was one of the first days in what would be the resurrection of one of the most famous cars in drag racing history.
My dad knew Ebbie from back in the days when they showed their Shelby Mustangs. Ebbie remembered my dad when Hurricane Katrina completely submerged his '68 Shelby G.T. 350 in 2005. There is a page on paulcompanies.com dedicated to the restoration of the "Katrina Miracle". That car would be the first project of many Ebbie would bring to us. In the years that have followed Katrina, we got to spend more and more time with Ebbie. A great friendship would grow from that disaster of the hurricane. Ebbie would come for visits to go over a project, but stay and just let us enjoy his company for a few days before he went back home.
For those that don't know, Mark Williamson purchased the Motown Missile years after it's glory days. The car had become unrecognizable from the same '72 Barracuda that graced the cover of Hot Rod magazine as well as many other publications and media. Mark knew he had something special and always wanted to restore the car to it's former glory. A task like that would require funds that Mark had always hoped to accumulate, but the restoration of a car like the Motown Missile would be a hard project to fund. After Ebbie entrusted my dad, George Paul, to bring back his G.T. 350 from the dead, he knew he had found the right person for his friend Mark's Missile that had been napping under a blue tarp for nearly 20 years.
Ebbie joined forces with Mark, and Motown Missile, LLC was born. Only the two of them know the exact specifics and plans for the car beyond it's restoration, but their partnership is why we are able to behold the beauty of the car once again. We've just been fortunate enough to get to know Ebbie, Mark, Dick, and even the Motown Missile over the past few years. One thing is certain, the Motown Missile's legacy will continue on, and so will Ebbie's through the car and through his friends and family. We will continue to update everyone on the progress of the restoration as we continue on in Ebbie's memory.
December 1, 2018
Those are custom made recreations of the original white letters on the Firestone Drag 500 tires that were originally on the Missile. We've got more photos over on the Paul's Body Shop Facebook page.
November 5, 2018
Back in October of 2015, we put the Hemi on the dyno. We thought we would be installing the engine into the car soon afterwards, but the restoration got delayed. We're finally bringing this footage to the eyes of the public. There's more to come as the engine is now in the car. We're also working on recreating the look of the original tires pictured below in a rare photo of Don Carlton with the Missile. Another project we will be working on is bringing the hood back to it's original look. To see the video of the the Hemi on the dyno, check out our YouTube playlist on the left side of the page.
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December 18, 2015
Car owner, Mark Williams, found this rare photo of the Missile in it's last paint scheme before being restored to it's original black and gold. The car didn't look nearly this good when we got it here for restoration. In other restoration news, we are working on getting the engine ready. We've got some cool footage of it being run on the dyno, and we'll be doing another video once that is complete. The Missile will also be making an appearance at the Mississippi Racing Vehicle Extravaganza in Jackson, MS January 9th and 10th.
September 24, 2015
Motown Missile 'Cuda: The Movie
Well, I've finally compiled all of the footage we have of the Missile and it's restoration into a 12-minute movie. We've even got some footage in there of the 'Cuda making passes in Tulsa in 1972. Check it out for yourself:
August 17, 2015
Return from the Nats
Well, it was a long drive to and from Columbus. The RV had a flat on the way up, and the transmission puked on the way back, but the 'Cuda is back at Paul's Body Shop. She will wait for the drivetrain and engine. Overall, it was a great time in Columbus. Dick Oldfield got to see the Missile for the first time since coming down to authenticate the car before the restoration began. Mark Williamson, 1/2 car owner, also got to see it finished for the first time as he came from Canada to Columbus to see her. Mark was left speechless. See more photos in the photo gallery.
August 1, 2015
Mopar Nats Coming Up
Get ready for the Mopar Nationals August 7-9, 2015. The '72 Cuda Motown Missile will be reunited with the other Missile cars for the first time since the 2012 Henderson Drag Times Hall of Fame. This time it won't be in bare metal on the rotisserie. The cars will be together again in their original, trademark colors. Expect a big update in the coming weeks from the trip to Columbus, Ohio. I'm also working on a restoration movie that will be displayed with the car in Ohio.
July 14, 2015
Missile owner, Mark Williamson, found this listing on Ebay. Here's what he said about it:
This is interesting, I like it, maybe because of the faults, or in spite of them. They label in a 1970 Barracuda, the diecast car is a '71 and it has a blower, not a tunnel ram, and the wrong colour wheels. Still, a nice collectable, 1 of 9998 and not too expensive.
The image is the cover of the Jan 1972 Hot Rod Magazine, with the car, the driver Don Carlton seen through the windshield with hands on the wheel, Ted Spehar, the owner, builder and team leader, and Tom Hoover, the Hemi Godfather.
Most people do not realize that cover shot shows Don Carlton sitting in the CUDA !
July 6, 2015
We just want to give a shoutout to Fred Rist, a.k.a. Hemi Fred, who has been a huge help in finding missing pieces of the Missile and it's past. Check out the Paul's Body Shop Facebook page to read the article below the picture.
A LONG TIME AGO, FAR, FAR AWAY . . . IT'S ALL IN THE RIST ! ! !
We also want to give a big thanks to Peter MacRitchie, who was a big help in finding and re-creating the decals that went along the bottom of the car. He shared some memories of his time with the 'Cuda after it went to the Beatty & Woods race team:
"I did work for Beatty / Woods from 1978 – 1990 but at that time of my employment they had already run all the NHRA Divisionals / Nationals they attended in Competion Eliminator & I remember pushing the car in & out shop for months til the fellow the bracket racer Jim Stevens came along & bought the rolling chassis / had Beatty build conservative 440 engine & Doug Miller of Fireball from Ottawa area do him a Torqueflight trans … Henry Saga of Perf . Installations did the install / got Jim set in bracket race mode … Jim then we heard moved to the Ottawa area with car later years & never from again .. I do have a few few copies of a monthly newspaper that was printed by Cayuga Dragway with the weekly results & at times showing Jims wins with the Cuda."
June 4, 2015
Tom Hoover Passes
Every Mopar Fan
knows the name. We have all lost a friend with the passing of Tom
Hoover, the man widely known as the “father” and/or “godfather”
of the 426 HEMI racing engine, which celebrated its 50th anniversary
“Tom Hoover was an exceptional human being and an engineering genius that always wanted to go faster.
Tom Hoover spent 25 years working at Chrysler Corp., leaving in 1979 to pursue his interests in locomotives and trains. During his time here, Tom Hoover had an impact on some of the most-storied performance milestones in Chrysler’s history:
• He was a founding member of the Ramchargers, a group of Chrysler engineers who used their engineering expertise to go drag racing and boost the company’s performance image.
• He helped develop the Hyper Pak, a group of performance parts for Chrysler’s renowned Slant-6 engine. The Hyper Pak helped make the Plymouth Valiant a winner on NASCAR tracks in the early 1906s. Customers could buy the Hyper Pak at a dealer’s parts counter.
• He led development of the Max Wedge big-block racing V-8, building upon Chrysler’s RB engine to create a powertrain that dominated drag strip racing in the early 1960s. A drag racer at heart, Tom Hoover helped develop the Pro Stock and Funny Car racing classes.
• As racing program coordinator, he helped lead the small team that developed the 426 HEMI racing engine. The 426 HEMI debuted at the 1964 Daytona 500, where driver Richard Petty lapped the field in taking the win. And when NASCAR blocked the 426 HEMI’s use in 1965, Hoover’s team took it drag racing – where it’s legacy lives on today as many modern professional drag race engines still use the basics of that motor.
• Before he left Chrysler, Tom Hoover helped create the Lil’ Red Express, a high-performance Dodge pickup released in 1978. The Lil’ Red Express is easily identified by its vertical exhaust pipes mounted behind the cab.
Like many of his contemporaries, Tom Hoover’s passion for engineering was sparked during his youth in Huntington, Pa. His first car was a 1952 DeSoto with an original Hemi engine. At Chrysler, he started by working on the Bendix Electrojector program – a precursor to today’s modern fuel-injection systems.
Even after leaving Chrysler he stayed close to racing and Mopar performance. Tom Hoover and his son raced a vintage Plymouth Max Wedge car for several years. And he was consulted as the team developed the third-generation HEMI engine that first reached the street in 2003. Some of his ideas were incorporated in the design.
So the next time you hear the road of a HEMI engine, give Tom Hoover a BIG THANK YOU!
May 22, 2015
Ready for my close-up, Mr. director. Who knew the Missile cars were Hollywood actors? The '73 Duster Mopar Missile actually made an appearance in the 1989 movie, Parenthood, starring Steve Martin. Pictured here is a photo sent from Missile fan, Jake Young, who stumbled on this and sent a pic. The '72 'Cuda Motown Missile is still getting a little attention. We are trying to fit the original, gold engine compartment pieces to her. I'm also perfecting the decals that go along the bottom of the car.
April 24, 2015
Well, there's not much left to do on the Missile. We are waiting on an engine. In the meantime, the roll pan is now painted and installed. After the whole story on searching the Earth for a new grille, we've resurrected the original grille from the car. We've also been remaking some of the different decals that were ran along the bottom of the car. Some of these decals are obsolete, but we've had a couple originals donated to the project for me to copy. I'm in the middle of recreating the Liberty Gears decal and another variation of the Fenton Wheels decal. Click on the photo gallery to see more.
March 10, 2015
Carpet In a Race Car
In the 70's, stock cars needed to look stock. Safety wasn't as big of an issue then, so we went ahead and put carpet in just like she had back in the day. See the photo gallery for more photos.
February 9, 2015
The Missile had a couple of variations of the wheelie bars. We decided make some similar to the one that can be seen in early shop photos of the car. Check out the photo gallery for more pics.
January 15, 2015
There she is in all her glory. We still have a ways to go, but she looks so nice in black and gold. We've got to make the small contingency decals that go along the bottom of the door. We are still piecing her together, and waiting for the original gold wheels to be re-coated. Check out the Photo Gallery link on the left to see more photos.
January 8, 2015
That's real 23 karat gold leaf on that bad boy. In the seventies, real gold leaf was all they had. Now, everybody uses imitation gold leaf. One of the suppliers said they hadn't sold any real gold leaf in thirty years. To restore the Missile properly, we did it the way it was done before imitation gold leaf was available. Robby Grant did an excellent job recreating the graphics of the Motown Missile using real 23 karat gold leaf. Robby also hand-painted the lettering on the glass. Chad Sebren stepped in while I was in China, and made some templates to help Robby. I've still got to recreate the contingency decals along the bottom of the car. We've got some really sweet time lapse footage of the graphics being painted on the car. See the YouTube Playlist link on the left to watch the video of the gold leaf graphic installation. In my next update, you will see the car after the graphics have been cleared over.
November 28, 2014
The Missile is finally back in black. For all the things that have held up the process on this historic car, it's really cool to see her back in her original color. Now, she is in the process of getting put back together. Expect to see some gold leaf back on the side of this girl very soon.
November 19, 2014
The holy grille has arrived! We thought we would never find a '72 Barracuda aftermarket grille, much less a new-old-stock Mopar grille. George Paul managed to find this grille on a All Craigslist search in California. The guy said he had it in his attic for a least 25 years and decided to sell it to make some room. The grille came complete, with no blemishes, and even included the OEM part sticker and a guarantee that read, "If it breaks in half- You get to keep both pieces."
November 13, 2014
Just intake it all in. This is the original intake that was run on the Missile. Hemi Fred got his hands on this and has kept it all these years. It has finally made it back home. You can see in the first picture how good it looks after a little sandblasting from George Paul. In the pictures below, you can see some modifications that Don Carlton made himself. You can see a cut line right down the middle of the Weiand letters. The carburetor mounting plate was cut in two to allow a spacer to be installed. You can see in the pic of the inside of the throat where epoxy and bolts were used to reconnect the two pieces. If you refer back to the centerfold of the original Hot Rod magazine that featured the Missile, you can clearly see a spacer between the two pieces of the carburetor mounting plate.
November 7, 2014
The Missile needs your help! We are trying to find a grille for a '72 Barracuda. We have come up empty through all of our Google searches. If you find any info, or if you have a grille, contact email@example.com.
The search is over. We managed to find a New Old Stock grille on Craigs List! The grille is on it's way from California.
November 3, 2014
The Missile rides again! Today the Missile touched down for the first time since it was torn down in February of 2011. Also of note in recent weeks is the repairing of the frame. When I walked passed the car, I could not believe we were doing body repair on the frame and firewall of a 40-year old race car. Work was done to fill in minor rust pits to restore the frame to it's original look. The Paul's Body Shop crew went one step further and repaired grinding marks from when the Missile was built. I'll have more pictures in the next week or so. I am moving the photo album to our Paul's Body Shop Facebook page. You can see all the pictures here when I get them uploaded. I'll also do a time lapse video of the wheels and front suspension being installed on our YouTube Playlist.
August 21, 2014
This is some time lapse photography we did back in October 2012. Footage here shows the replacing of the trunk floor, bottom quarter panels, and floor pan. I highly encourage watching the video over and over. Concentrate on a different spot each time and see the magic.
May 21, 2014
Big week for the Missile as Mr. Bob Taggart has gotten the rear suspension built. I can picture it doing wheel stands again in the not too distant future. Body work is still being done as we get all of the body lines just right.
April 17, 2014
The search for the mythical Missile radiator is over. Roger Marchman (R&M Radiator 601-988-2196) has done a fine job replicating the radiator that was originally seen in the Motown Missile. The top picture is the replica of the original in the photo below.
November 18, 2013
Check out the way that quarter panel is shaping up! We are completely reforming the shape of the quarters based on all the reference photos we have accumulated. We've been working on the Missile a little here and there as the hail damage work has slowed down. Now, the Missile has a few friends in the shop. Our restoration business is picking up where the hail damage is leaving off. We've got a 1930 Ford pickup repair, as well as restorations on a '72 El Camino, '67 Charger, and a pet project 1966 Mustang Convertible. Rest assured we will keep you posted as work on the Missile picks up. Ebbie has promised to write-up some stories for me on some of the happenings with the parts for the Missile.
July 4, 2013
It's an Independence Day miracle! In a surprise to everyone, the Missile has returned MUCH sooner than expected. It was picked up from Metal Finishers on July 4th , where it received it's second acid bath as well as an E-Coating. While the shop has been overflowing with hail work, we have had times where we haven't had as much conventional repair work to do. With that in mind, the Missile has been brought back to the shop, so we can work on it during our down time. I will post pictures from the trip to Metal Finishers in the next day or two. Stay tuned for updates as the restoration continues.
April 10, 2013
Message from Ebbie: Just got off the phone with SCOTT MARKS who recently bought
a 67 BARRACUDA racer. It came with the original rear wheels from the MISSILE
CUDA. He verified this with the original owners who raced the car in the 70's.
> Then SCOTT called GEORGE PAUL, who gave me his phone number.
> So, SCOTT will be passing those wheels on to us to reunite the CUDA with
it's original parts.
Also: Just uploaded a video Ebbie came across to this web page under "Rare Photos Slide Show"
March 18, 2013
A massive hail storm hit the Jackson Metro area on March 18th. That hail storm has brought so much work to the shop, we have had to halt the restoration on the Missile for at least the rest of the year. The Cuda is being stored safely at Metal Finishers since her last acid bath and E-Coat. Stay tuned for more when the restoration is resumed.
March 4, 2013
In an effort to make the Missile Restoration more accessible, we are making some changes to the ways you can keep up with it. Most importantly, this page is going to be the hub for all things Cuda Missile. The old photo gallery is being phased out. The new photo gallery linked from this page will be viewable by Facebook users as well as non-Facebook users. The photos will also no longer have the copy protection, so you are free to save them to your computer. Facebook users will also be able to comment, like, and share the photos in an effort to open up some discussion. We hope this works better for EVERYONE. If you have any issues with the new setup, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. As for the Missile, it is currently being housed at Metal Refinishers until it's ready for another acid bath. Then, it comes back to us to continue the restoration process.
October 4, 2012
The Motown Missile is back from being stripped. See photos in the photo gallery.
February 3, 2011
VISIT FROM THE 'CUDA'S ORIGINAL BUILDER, DICK OLDFIELD
On Friday 03 December 2010 we brought DICK "BARNEY" OLDFIELD, the builder
of the MOTOWN MISSILE BARRACUDA" down from BUFFALO, NY to visit at GEORGE
PAUL'S SHOP and videotape analyzing the car and authenticating it. We got
several hours of footage. MARK came down from OTTAWA to BUFFALO, and flew
down with DICK for this technical session.
We had a special event FRIDAY night for GEORGE'S Dirt Track racing group,
an awards banquet. I had dropped MARK and DICK off at the hotel, and we went
back at 630 in a LIMO owned and driven by DANIEL to pick them up. DANIEL and
GEORGE had spent the last month restoring the LIMO especially to use for this
event. On the way to the hotel, I called DICK to ask if they were ready. He
said yeah, and I told him "I will have my car pick ya'll up". He said OK,
but I'm sure he didn't have a clue, until the LIMO pulled up at the hotel.
At the banquet, I prepared an announcement with several minutes of history
about DICK for the MC to read that there was a PRO STOCK racing legend in the
audience, and DICK got a huge round of applause. Dick told me "You just had
to do that, didn't ya?". Later, DICK said that was the first time he ever
rode in a LIMO ! ! !
GEORGE had washed the car and cleaned all the crud from underneath, and
it actually looked pretty good, DICK was impressed. Saturday morning we all
went to breakfast together and then to the shop where we spent a couple hours
going over details of the car, noting what was original and things that had
been changed since 1972.
After the session with the CUDA on SATURDAY afternoon, we spent several
hours on GEORGE'S three 4-wheelers racing through all the trails on GEORGE'S
70 acres, taking turns leading the group . . . chase the leader. Our lap
times increased with each pass . . . GEORGE unleashed 3 kids (DICK, MARK and
ME) without supervision . . . serious trouble ! ! !
After we did the CUDA analysis and 4-wheeling on Saturday, we went home
to GEORGES to view a CD that DAN CHOCKLEY had sent me (friend I met on-line
buying SHELBY restoration parts . . . CHOCKOSTANG is his company). Dan, who
is from ILLINOIS was passing through STAR several weeks earlier in his
motorhome on a SUNDAY (finishing up a parts hunting trip through the South)
and he saw GEORGE'S garage door open. He stopped in, and found only me there
working on my BMW. I showed him the CUDA and he got excited. He said he
thought he had an old reel to reel in storage somewhere that he shot at TULSA
back in 1972, and would look for it. He found it, got it transferred to CD,
and sent me a copy. Old film usually deteriorates, especially 40 years old,
but the storage conditions must have been just right, because the film was
perfect. This would be the first time for me to watch it.
That CD has clear shots of about 45 minutes of drag racing at TULSA 1972,
including several passes of the 'CUDA. On the last pass, the CUDA is up on
two wheels in first, shifts to second without coming down, and lifts again in
third . . . winning the race. DICK was there in 1972, and while watching the
film was naming all the cars and drivers. There was about a 10 minute pan of
the parking lot, and DICK was naming the trailers and motor homes. We
watched the video twice, and it was just a special night.
That 1972 TULSA video will be a feature "never before seen footage" part
of the video biography of RESTORATION OF THE MOTOWN MISSILE BARRACUDA.
DICK flew out from JACKSON on Sunday and went to CALIFORNIA. He was
flying out there from MISSISSIPPI to consult on the WIRE CAR, and said he
would be there a few weeks. MARK headed out the same time on his way back to
It was an adventure packed nonstop weekend we'll long remember, and a
super boost to the start of this historic restoration.
No work will be done on the CUDA until FEBRUARY, when we setup time lapse
photography, then start taking it apart and cataloging all parts. I'll send
pictures as they happen. No rush here, it's gonna be done right.
Be looking for the APRIL issue of MOPAR ACTION, which hit the newsstands
mid DEC. Look for a feature story on the CUDA inside under "BARN FINDS". Got
another article coming out in CLASSIC AND THOROUGHBRED CARS too, look for the
MARCH ISSUE and the feature article in the "DISCOVERED" section . . .
November 2, 2010
Paul's Body Shop is proud to be taking on the restoration of the Motown Missile. We have found a few stories on the past of a car that was thought to be lost forever.
The Motown Missile: 1972 Plymouth Barracuda drag car
See more Mopar and Motown Missile stories when you scroll down to the bottom of
the page on the link above.
You can also check out this link.