Chevy Chevelle gets 30-year facelift
Back in 1965, Patty Hardisty appeared at the old Howard Chevrolet dealership in Bloomington and traded the 1961 Biscayne her father had bought her after high school graduation for a brand-new Chevelle.
It was a two-door, red and fast.
Roger Hardisty was just 15 when his sister brought her new car home to show the family. "It was probably pretty unusual for a young woman to come in and buy a car like that," he said. "But it sure was a nice one."
When she got married a few years later, the car got sold to another brother, Dennis. And when Dennis Hardisty joined the Navy in 1968, Roger Hardisty bought it. He was 18.
In 1975, he got married. Roger and Brenda Hardisty left their wedding reception in the Chevelle and drove from Bloomington to Terre Haute for a honeymoon at the Holiday Inn. But they arrived late, and their reserved room had been given to someone else. The desk clerk found them a room at the Imperial House, just down the road.
"We went out to the parking lot, and the car wouldn't start," Brenda Hardisty recalled. So he got behind the wheel, and she pushed the car. "I had on a short dress and panty hose and platform heels, and I remember thinking, 'I hope no one is watching this,' and I started pushing, and he popped the clutch and it started." She hopped in.
A few months later, "we were watching the news on TV and that hotel burned down," she said.
A year after that, they parked the Chevelle.
"It had been sitting in the barn ever since, beside the hay baler and behind the tractor."
Three years ago, Brenda Hardisty was taking an English class at Ivy Tech. She had to write a paper describing something, and she wrote about walking into the barn and seeing the faded Chevelle. It got her thinking. Her husband had always intended to restore the car, but 30 years had passed and there it still sat.
"He actually started sanding on it one year," she said.
She works at General Electric with a man named Tab Hunter, who had just restored his own car. She asked him if he and his buddy Rick Bennett would take on the long-neglected Chevelle. They drove out to the barn, checked it out and said they would.
Eight months later, they drove it back to the Hardisty residence, good as new.
Patty Hardisty Sims was there, and got right into the driver's seat. Memories flooded back for them all.
Hunter said he would do just about anything for Brenda Hardisty, whom he called "a sweetheart." They work on the same refrigerator assembly line, and he has watched her battle, and beat, cancer. Three times.
"Don't say anything about me in the column if you write about the Chevelle,"; Hunter said. "It should be about Brenda. And the car of course."
Brenda Hardisty said she can never repay Hunter. Although two or three times a week, "I go to Hardee's and bring him a sausage-and-egg biscuit."
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This article originally appeared on The Herald-Times: Chevy Chevelle gets 30-year facelift