My Favorite Ride: This Chevy Malibu waited decades to get back on the road
Paul Sims and his 1965 Chevrolet Malibu almost didn't make it to the James Dean Festival in Fairmount a few years back.
They were northbound on Ind. 37 near Waverly when the driver of a car passing on the left suffered a blood-sugar episode and sideswiped the Malibu, causing extensive body damage on the driver's side.
Undaunted, Sims continued his journey another 90 miles to Fairmount. He had a hotel reservation and had been looking forward to parking his high-end Chevelle amid the 3,000 classic cars that converge on the town the last full weekend of September.
"It was still drivable, so I went ahead and drove it to the car show, where it was quite the topic of conversation," he said.
Last week's My Favorite Ride:10 years of restoration and retired mail carrier has '66 Chevy like one he regrets selling
It had taken a lot of years to get the car into show-worthy condition. It all started with another crash, this one back in 1983.
Sims owned and operated a service station on Ind. 54 in Greene County in the 1960s and '70s. Before selling the business in 1978, he worked on a lot of cars, including a shiny black 1965 Malibu owned by Jess Eads.
In 1983, Eads contacted Sims. "I got a call from Jess one night, and he said his wife had wrecked the Malibu, taking out a front fender," Sims said. Having serviced and admired the car for years, he jumped at a chance to buy the crashed car when Eads said it for sale.
"The damage wasn't too bad," he recalled. "I drove it home."
He parked the Malibu in his garage where it stayed — pretty much untouched — for 27 years.
"When I got it home, I had just started working at the post office as a rural delivery driver," he said. What he needed was a reliable vehicle for delivering mail, not a 1965 muscle car.
"I started tearing it down, and took that fender off, and then one thing led to another and another and another, and I kind of pushed it aside. It sat in my garage from 1983 to 2010."
Sims figured he'd get around to fixing up the car. Some day. "My dad used to say, 'Go up there and get your tractor, and let's haul that car out and put it in a ditch where it belongs.' "
But he had plan for the car, which resembled the red 1965 Chevy Chevelle his wife Patty got when she was 18 and traded her brown 1961 Chevrolet Biscayne for a flashier ride. The Chevelle was a two-door, and the higher-end Malibu is a 4-door sedan.
(In last week's column, I said Patty Sims had traded in a 1961 Pontiac Biscayne. Several readers, including devoted My Favorite Ride follower Steve Keucher, caught my misidentification. "Pontiac Biscayne?" he wrote. "Chevy Biscayne, maybe, or possibly Pontiac Catalina, but probably not Pontiac Biscayne. An occasional error keeps your readers on their toes.")
When Sims retired from the post office, there the Malibu still sat, seemingly forever parked in the garage. He started tinkering with it in 2010, then got serious about the project and dismantled the car, building it back to what it is today.
Then, the Waverly incident. "I come back home from Fairmount, and the Haggerty insurance paid off. I took the car to Mink's Body Shop in Bloomfield and he fixed the the side of it and Mike Mink put an awesome paint job on it. Tuxedo Black."
He and Patty kept the car on the road, driving it often. Then in 2011, he went to Tennessee and bought a 1966 Chevrolet pickup much like one he owned and loved decades before when he owned the service station.
The truck needed a lot of work. Ten years' worth.
So the Malibu got moved to the back corner of the garage. The pickup took center stage as Sims rebuilt and restored it.
He unveiled the "new" truck in January 2021. It's his favorite, and was featured in last week's My Favorite Ride.
The Malibu? Not forgotten. "I take it to cruise-ins and shows sometimes," Sims said of the smooth-running car. "I wouldn't be afraid to take off to California in it."
Have a story to tell about a car or truck? Contact My Favorite Ride reporter Laura Lane at firstname.lastname@example.org or 812-318-5967.
This article originally appeared on The Herald-Times: My Favorite Ride: A nearly forgotten Chevy Malibu back on the road