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Penny Lane's Journey
Scroll through her journey and enjoy her story below!
Then click the link at the end to see where she goes!
Penny Lane's journey began on January 23rd, 1960 when she was purchased by Miss Velma Denton of Hendersonville, N.C. She was purchased at Hunter Chevrolet Co. Inc. and maintained the car into the early '80s. It was then purchased by another individual and later sold to the gentleman that owned Penny when our paths met. Here is where our story begins...
Penny Lane sat in Hickory, N.C. for close to 6 years and watched as I drove by daily and occasionally stopped to check her out just to dream about the day I would be able to purchase her.
After 4 years of dreaming, a leap of faith, tough negotiation, and good savings, Penny Lane was finally mine.
She wasn't much for found condition as she clearly had been needing some TLC. She wasn't running and had hornets nested in her doors but after some patchwork, she was in some sense running again.
Being young and eager to get her going I drove her all the time, as much as I could. With as much work still needing to be done, you could say I put the horse before the cart.
November of 2016 was a difficult one for both Penny and myself. After leaving classes and heading to work, a Honda Crossover didn't see us sitting at the light as it had just turned green. They changed three lanes without a second thought and rammed into the back end of Penny, pushing her three car lengths, blowing the engine, buckling the rear panel, and back end. Considered a totaled loss, a decision had to be made. How badly did I want this project to take off and was it worth it to sink in more than insurance would pay?
I had never wanted something so badly in my life and had such a strong vision for the Views From The Vair project that the decision was made that she would go with Bill to Chair City Corvair and begin a long overhaul... full restoration.
This was going to be a long road and so we started with the largest and worked to the smallest of details.
After removing everything large and stripping her down to the body, more areas of concern presented themselves and we began to worry that the cost was going to continue to grow as more bodywork would be needed.
In order to gain a full perspective of what we were looking at we needed to first strip it all down to the bare base metal. Bill was kind enough to allow me to come in and tinker and do what I could to help cut the cost down in areas by allowing me to bond with Penny and do some of the work myself.
So began a long hot weekend at the end of summer to begin stripping off the paint by hand. With sweat rolling down every inch of my being and replacing gloves whenever the stripper ate through, we became closer and closer.
This was by far one of the more challenging things that I had ever done and like anything else in my life, nothing ever good came from taking an easy road. So onward we pursued.
Once we had gotten as much off as possible for doing it by hand we waited for the sandblasting to take place and gain a full understanding.
After sandblasting there were numerous places that had considerable rust damage. The amount of rust damage far exceeded initial thoughts and another decision had to be made.
Bill had recently obtained another 1960 700 Series 4 Door Sedan that had the same color as mine. It too needed a full resto but structurally looked to be in better shape than Penny. The option was mine, to either continue sinking more money into Penny as needed for the cost of the bodywork not anticipated or start on this other '60 and have an easier time restoring.
While only I would know the difference between the two or even know that this other '60 was not Penny Lane I just could not part with her.
We both had already been through so much together and had bonded so much through the restoration up to this point, that I was fully committed and attached. I made the decision to continue with Penny and bring her to life no matter what; this was what I wanted.
So Penny Lane began the next phase of her journey in the body shop. She spent the next several months being shaped, mended, welded and made new.
With the large Corvair convention in Maggie Valley approaching closer and closer we began to see the wire.
I had been dreaming of Maggie Valley since we started this restoration 3 years ago in 2016 and this year the '60s would be turning 60 making them the feature car that year. Both Bill and I, in our love for the '60 model, were itching to make that happen and have that as her grand debut.
To add to the anticipation of it all we decided that I would only see the underside in its new paint and would not see any more of Penny Lane until the day we left for Maggie Valley.
As bodywork was being completed Bill began to piece together the odds and ends so that they would be ready to plug and go when Penny returned.
Freshly polished and powder coated the engine components began to look new...
As they concluded they were assembled and diagnostics and fine-tuning commenced.
All 80 HP ready and waiting, the time came to begin on the smaller details.
With all things come frustration and apparently the quarter vents earned quite a few choices words in the rebuild. But nonetheless, no detail would be overlooked in the process. It was all to be either refurbished, replaced, or repaired.
A silver lining we found were things that are commonly needing replacement were in great condition. This was true for the gas tank. Because of the design of the body and where the heater sits the '60 gas tank is the only one in the entire 9-year line of Corvairs that will fit in that space. We thanked our lucky stars that Penny's was in exquisite shape and we were able to clean it up and keep it.
To my happy surprise, the rubber matt lining throughout the interior of the car and in the trunk were all also salvageable and in beautiful condition. Even the gas heater just needed to be reconfigured and she was blowing hot air without a second thought.
With the body back, assembly began and the wire began to present itself below our feet as Maggie Valley was only weeks away. Bill corralled a team of family and fellow Corvair family to pull all the loose ends together.
I always loved the detailed artistic thought behind the '60's front emblem and was so excited to replace the old and faded original with one that was new old stock and had never been on a Vair.
Down to the morning, we would leave for Maggie, Penny Lane was finally complete and ready for her test run and debut. The unveiling and journey were to be documented as we had not seen each other since we began bodywork and I had not driven her since the accident. The emotions were high and the anticipation was teeming. But here we were at the end of a long 3-year journey and at the beginning of a new adventure.
We made it Maggie with only a mild vapor lock. But she ran so strong and beautiful even more so than when she ran before. It was better than I could have ever imagined and found the confidence again to get behind the wheel and feel trust in her newfound strength.
When we arrived to the convention we met so many amazing people. The Corvair community is one unlike anything that I have ever seen. So many different people from so many different walks of life all brought together under this common love and interest.
They were all so excited to see us, meet Penny Lane, and hear of her journey. That night we couldn't believe it but we placed with Best Engine, Top 25, and Best in Show. Not to mention we even won the Rally Scavenger Hunt.
Overwhelmed by Maggie and the love received we set off for Charlotte AutoFair. Again we placed Best in Show out of the Corvair group and were a contending finalist for the AutoFair.
This was such an amazing experience to feel such love and welcome from so many local Corsa members.
As we drove through the winner's garage we were podcasted on the Jumbotron and announced to the people.
And so her journey continues with the Views From The Vair project. What Bill and his team at Chair City Corvair have done is give new life to one that may never have had the opportunity to see another 60 years. And what they have given me is the chance and ability to go forth and make work, have an adventure, and see all we can see in the
Views From The Vair.
Penny Gets Her New Home
A Fair Start But A Long Way To Go
So It Begins
To Keep or Replace
Starting to Shape Up & Look New Again
Some Luch to Be Found
Here We Come!
The sincerest of thanks and gratitude to
Bill McColl and his team at Chair City Corvair.
For without their tireless commitment to Corvairs and their drivers, this restoration would not have been possible.
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