Arnie Meyer of Spillville has always had a love for cars, but the 1965 Chevelle Super Sport is close to his heart. Maybe it’s because the car brings back memories of his youth. Maybe it’s because it was the car he had when he fell in love with wife, Lois, of almost forty years. Or maybe he restored a similar car because it was simply a great car. I suspect it was for all those reasons.
Arnie took on the challenge and long process of restoring a similar 1965 Chevelle Super Sport car, though many times he questioned if he would continue, after six long years he completed his retirement dream.
The story started back in 1967, Arnie had a 1957 Chevrolet, and he was driving down University Avenue in Cedar Falls. As he was driving past Larry Lang Ford, he noticed a 1965 Chevelle Super Sport sitting on the used car lot.
Arnie remembers, “It was a turquoise with white bucket seats and I fell in love with that car at first sight. So I drove back the next day to see how much it cost. The cost was $3,000, and I told the dealer that I had to see my banker. The banker agreed that if I gave a 25% down payment, they would give me the money. So I purchased it. This was my second car and it had a 327 short block 300 HP engine with four on the floor. I have a lot of great memories of this car. I took it to the drag strip in Cedar falls Iowa where I turned some times in the low thirteen-second range, which for a stock engine this was very fast. I blew up the engine and then I thought it would be nice to put in a big block 396 with 325 horse power ,and the car was never as fast as the original 327 short block. This was the car that I met my girl with, which I married in 1973, and as of today we have been married for 39-and-a-half years.”
Arnie continues his story, “As the years flew by and my two children grew up, and I started to get close to retirement, I thought it would be nice to find another 1965 Chevelle. I told my son, Aaron, that lives in Arizona to keep an eye open for a 1965 Chevelle. He called me several times and found me some in many different states. It was too far away for me and cost too much and it was not the same color as the one I had. One afternoon in Aug of 2006 he called me and e-mailed me some pictures of a 1965 Chevelle two-door sedan that was a builder car. I asked him what state this car was in, and he told me it was in Mason City Iowa. I thought: 'that is only eighty miles away'. My son put an Ebay bid on the car and it did not meet the minimum bid. So I gave this person a call and we agreed to a time I could come and see the car. It was a Friday night. My wife and I drove over to Mason City. He told me he would have it outside and bolt on the front fenders. I always felt that If I ever restored a Chevelle I wanted to do a two-door sedan. I saw many two-door hardtops, but no two-door sedan’s. When we arrived, it was sitting outside by the curve and the first thing my wife said was: 'Is that the piece of junk you want to buy?' As you can see in the original pictures, it did not look very good but the price was right. In my mind, I could see the completed car. I told him I would take some pictures and take them and show them to Ed my body man, and see if there was any hope. He told me it would be a lot of work, but he felt we could restore it. So on the next day I called and told the seller I would take it. My wife thought I was nuts for paying $1,800 for the car. So on a Sunday, a friend of mine and me got a car trailer from the body shop and went to get the car. When we arrived in Mason City it was sitting in the driveway ready to go. The couple was standing in the driveway with tears in their eyes. I asked them if they really wanted to sell the car the man told me yes. Then he told me the story that this was his wife’s family car and their dreams where to restore the car themselves but with having a child, that ended that dream. I paid him, and we all had to push the car on the trailer because it had no engine, but he gave me two engines with the car, that were in pieces. I told them that I would keep him posted on the car as I restored it. We left with them crying in the driveway. We felt like we took their best friend from them, and we had tears in our eyes too. This all happened in the first week in September, 2006. We got to Spillville and my wife took pictures of us unloading the car. Then we pushed it into the garage.”
Then came the long process and the question to continue with the dream, “From September of 2006, to May 1 of 2010, I was buying and collecting parts. Ed Shimek,the body man, called me and said bring the car down and he would start to restore it. The summer was very depressing because when we got into it, the rust was worse than the both of us thought. Ed told me that it would take several hundred hours to me: 'What are you going to do with all of the parts I purchased?' I told him I don’t know. My son told me: 'This was your retirement dream so why would you quit?' I called my daughter, Angela, and she also encouraged me to continue. I went back to Ed and said let's keep going."
Arnie retired in February of 2011, and could now help with the car. Ed did all of the body work, and Arnie did all the mechanical work. Ed gave him the frame in the summer of 2011, and Arnie stripped the frame of all it parts and had it sand blasted and Ed repainted it. Then Arnie replaced every piece in the frame with new up-to-date restoration parts. During the summer of 2011, Arnie found bucket seats and had them and the rear seat recovered in white vinyl like his original. In September, Ed had the pieces ready to paint and they painted the car the same factory Turquoise color as his original car. In October 2011, Ed was ready for the frame, after 800 hours of body work. Ed and his brother started to put all the pieces together and in late November got it back together and Arnie had the Ford garage tow it home for me. “Thank God there's no salt on the roads yet,” said Arnie.
“All of the time I was waiting for the car body to get done my thought was that I was going to put a 350 Horse power crate engine from GM performance. I got a 327 engine in pieces with the car and a friend of mine which does nothing but rebuild racing engines talked me into rebuilding the 327. I asked him to make sure that we had enough horsepower to make the car shake at a stop light,” laughs Arnie. “Being Christmas was getting close and it was sitting in my garage as a finished shell, I had to make a decision at that time if I was to get a 350 HP crate end. On Christmas Day, I promised my 91 year old mother-in-law, Angie Wagner, that I would have it done by a parade in August of 2012.”
"In January of 2012, I totally rewired the car and soldered all connections and using the original crimping tools for all the wiring. I made sure all wiring worked before I went any further. In February of 2012, I started put the interior back in the car. I got all new interior parts from OPGI. My original car had turquoise carpeting and everything else was white. So I re-did it the same way my original car was. In June of 2012, I got the engine back. My son happened to be home during that time, so I called a friend which came over and we installed the engine and got it running. My grandchildren were visiting us from Boise Idaho, and we went for our first ride out of the garage and down the street and all of us were excited to see the car move on its own. In July, I got Flow Master exhaust system and had that installed. Man did the car ever sound good. I still had two weeks before the parade, which was on the 5th of August. Would you believe by August 1, I had the car done?”
The day of Ossian Days parade arrived and he was very nervous about the car working. “Only thing left was go to Sams Club to buy candy for my mother-in-law to throw out during the parade. On Friday night, August 5, it was 97 degrees outside and I was scared to death the car would over-heat but it did not. The parade went well and my mother-in-law loved every minute of being in the parade!”
Feeling the accomplishment of finishing his goal, Arnie said, “In August I finally felt I could call the original owner of the car and send them pictures. I had their number from when I purchased the car so I gave them a call. This lady answered the phone and asked her name and she told me she was the grandmother and she was taking care of kids. I told her who I was and the first thing she said was: 'You’re the person who bought my car. We thought we would never heare about the car again.' She was so happy to hear I had the car done. So I e-mailed pictures, and when her daughter got back they sent me an e-mail, and said the car was beautiful. I told them I would bring the car over sometime next year.”
“My goal was met, but now I wanted to take it to a car show. So in late August, I went to the car show at Czech days in Protivin. I had beginners luck and I won first place in my class. I look forward to more parades and car shows in the future.”
Congratulations Arnie, on a job well done and thanks for sharing your retirement dream with us.