Guess it's always good to start at the very beginning.
Back in '63, my dad had just graduated high school. For a bunch of reasons Pop couldn’t head off to college right away. So to make the best of things, he worked an extra field on the family farm in addition to running the daily dairy operation. For that year and part of the next he saved what he made from that field so that he could buy a brand new car – a car that he would love.
With cash in hand he ordered a '64 Lemans from the factory - a Marimba Red convertible with a 4-speed manual. For the next few years the car shared his life and in many ways influenced it. When he finally did get to college, his roommate’s sister needed a ride since his roommates ’58 Ford Fairlane had a dead battery. She was impressed enough with the car (ok, maybe with him too) that they started to date. He was pretty impressed that she could make the Lemans go just about as well as he could, so decided she was a keeper and married her. She still recalls how she knew he was on his way to get her by the rumble of the glasspack muffler across campus.
Pop's Lemans on the farm...
Mom & Pop with the Lemans...
The car stayed with them as she graduated but Pop’s draft number soon came up before he could finish his degree. Since he was a conscientious objector, he decided to do his 1-W Mission Supporting Service in Africa, serving as the maintenance coordinator of a small mission hospital. But with no salary they decided they couldn’t keep the car, selling it to a local family.
They returned from Africa with me in tow, so Pop had to give up convertible coupes for more sensible cars. But Pop always wanted to get that car back in some way and later in life even tried to replicate it with a ’69 AMC Rebel convertible, but it just wasn’t the same.
Flash forward over 20 years later to the mid 90’s. On one of Pop’s birthdays Mom decided to take him for a little drive, visiting the areas from when they first got married. A turn or two later and she pulls into a familiar house - the family that they sold the Lemans to back in the late 60’s. Mom had done her research and found out that they still had the car. With a look of shock (and a ‘yer shi**ing me!’), they led Pop to the garage and there was his ’64. It had survived as the run around for the two boys who had now gone off to college and was just sitting in storage. They eventually got around to asking if it might be for sale and after a little haggling it was a done deal. He now had his car back.
Over the years Pop has had a little work done on the car, but only enough to fire it up every once in a while. It’s pretty much been in storage with the expectation that eventually the car would be passed on to me, as something to take on once my kids got a bit older and I had some space and time to do a restoration. Pop had pretty much given up driving the car again in his lifetime given the demands of starting a small business and being a grandfather.
But funny how things can change. About a month ago Pop spent a few days with another of my Mom’s brothers on a business trip. While he was there he saw a Corvette that my uncle Gene was restoring. Pop was impressed with the quality of work and planted the seed that maybe his Lemans should be the next restoration project Gene takes on. On the way back home Pop stopped to talk to me about the idea. Since it would eventually be my car we talked about me funding a good portion of the restoration. So within a few days Pop had someone to do the work and someone to help pay for it. Restoring the Lemans was officially under way! Pop talked to Gene and the plan was to deliver the car in the fall. In the mean time, I’d start researching and come up with a restoration plan. I joined GTOforum to start tracking some other restorations and get some ideas.
Well, I guess the prospect of getting the Lemans rolling again has lit a fire. Pop called the other day and asked if I could take some time off so that we could deliver the car in the next few weeks!
Gulp - I guess I better get going on that restoration plan. I’ve got a ton of questions about putting together a plan that I’ll post (if any one’s still reading after this long-winded intro)…