Ten years ago, I made a mistake that cannot be explained and still makes me laugh.
In a February 2013 column, I misidentified Tab Koontz, a Spencer man who bought and restored a junky 1974 Dodge Challenger, as Tab Hunter, a clean-cut Hollywood film heartthrob of the 1950s and '60s.
Tab Koontz was Tab Hunter all the way through the column. I apologized; he sent an email back. "I had a great laugh out of it!"
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He and his friend Rick Bennett, who had a 1973 Plymouth Barracuda, were headed to the World of Wheels show in Indianapolis when Bennett started reading my column aloud from the newspaper.
"And when he read 'Tab Hunter,' we both cracked up," Koontz said. "I have gotten so many messages from people kidding me about it. I got a new nickname now. Don't give it a second thought; no harm done."
That column wasn't even about his restored Dodge, but instead his General Electric refrigerator plant coworker Brenda Hardisty's 1965 Chevrolet Chevelle, the one that died in the parking lot of a Terre Haute Holiday Inn on her honeymoon the day she and Roger Hardisty got married. She's been driving the car since.
Which, finally, brings me to the vehicle that's the actual focus of this week's column: A 1966 Chevrolet truck owned by Paul and Patty Sims of Bloomington.
Patty is the sister of Brenda Hardisty's husband, Roger. When she was 18, she traded her 1961 Pontiac Biscayne for the fast, red, two-door Chevelle that a few years later was purchased by her younger brother. Roger was 15 when Patty drove the muscle car home.
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“It was probably pretty unusual for a young woman to come in and buy a car like that,” he told me in 2013, remembering the day. “But it sure was a nice one."
I ran into Brenda Hardisty this past summer. She reminded me of the 2013 My Favorite Ride about that Chevelle, and said they still have the family treasure. She called a few days later to tell me about the '66 Chevy truck.
That was in June; sometimes, it takes me awhile to circle back. I visited Paul Sims' garage this week to take a look at the 57-year-old truck.
Decades ago, when he owned and operated a Marathon station on Ind. 54 in Greene County that people in the area now know as Grubb's Garage, Paul Sims drove a turquoise blue 1965 Chevrolet pickup.
"I really loved that truck, and I fixed it up." He put a camper shell on the back, and he and Patty traveled in the truck to the 1967 World Expo in Montreal.
Sometime in the 1970s, he sold it to a man named Randy Holtsclaw. "And after that, I couldn't find it, lost track of it." If he had been able to, Sims would have bought back his beloved truck.
He sold his garage-gas station in 1978, then spent the next 20 years as a mail truck delivery driver for the post office. He's been retired awhile.
Sims gave up on ever finding his old Chevy, so he searched on eBay for a similar pickup. In October 2011, he located a 1966 model for sale in Tennessee. "Those model years are just the same," he said.
The truck was originally red, then was mostly gray primer when he hauled it on a 16-foot-trailer from south of Knoxville to the Greene County farm where he lived.
"It looked just like the one I had. So I went down and bought it, brought it home," he said. It had a working motor from a 1978 Pontiac Firebird under the hood, but the body was in bad shape. Floorboards and doors rusted out, fenders that needed replacing, a bed with weak sides. He spent 10 years rebuilding it.
Yep, a decade. He did all the work himself, one thing at a time, year by year. When he sold the farm and moved to Monroe County, the truck came along in pieces to its new garage. He eventually repainted it the same deep-sky blue his original truck was. His wife helped him stretch the fabric when he reupholstered the bench seat, but the rest was all at the hand of Paul Sims.
He posted before and after photos on a Facebook page for owners of Chevrolet trucks manufactured 1964 through 1966. He announced on Jan. 13, 2021, that his project was complete.
"Finally got the truck done, been working on it off and on since 2011," he wrote. "Every mistake, dimple, flaw or other discrepancies, I made them, so I can say the truck is all mine. Paint or body man, I am not. I am just a very old and very tired retired rural mail carrier."
Next week: There's a beautifully restored 1965 Chevelle Malibu parked in Paul and Patty Sims' garage as well. I looked over, and there it was.
Have a story to tell about a car or truck? Contact reporter Laura Lane at firstname.lastname@example.org or 812-318-5967.
This article originally appeared on The Herald-Times: My Favorite Ride: Restoring 1966 Chevy truck becomes 10-year project