My Classic Car: Restoring Mom and Dad’s original ’65 Chevelle

Credit: Original article published by Classic Cars Journal.

On July 8, 1965, my Dad purchased a brand new 1965 Chevelle Malibu SS. This was his first new car purchased off the lot and, oddly, has been the only new car he has ever purchased. He paid $3,262.45 for the car.

He then married my Mom in November of that same year. This car was very special to my Dad and Mom and we have great pictures of their adventures.

Shortly after their honeymoon, my Mom became pregnant and my oldest brother was on the horizon. He was born in ’67 and soon after, Mom and Dad learned of twins coming. The discussion turned back to the two-door coupe, and my Mom and Dad decided to sell the Chevelle to accommodate the future family.

1965 Chevelle Malibu SS
Eric’s Dad in the Chevelle during his honeymoon

My Mom shared with us kids growing up that she saw Dad’s emotions only a few times. One of those times was the day he had to sell his Chevelle.

As it often happens, life throws a few curves at families. My Dad’s youngest brother Paul was killed in a car accident in 1970. This event, and a few others, changed my Mom and Dad’s lives and began to shape our family’s future in ways we had yet to understand.

By 1971, our family now had three boys and one girl. My Dad was working a solid career with a Minnesota-based company and had the typical Minnesota family.

My parents attended a Lowell Lundstrom religious crusade, and through the message they heard, they committed their lives to serving God daily and through ministry. In 1974, my Dad left his job and moved the family to Dallas, Texas to attend Bible college and become a full-time pastor. He arrived back in our hometown of Sunburg, Minnesota, in 1976, and pioneered Sunburg Community Bible Church.

Through he and my Mom’s ministry there, as well as three other churches in their careers, us kids witnessed countless people helped, served, loved and lives changed because of the way Mom and Dad lead their lives.

Sacrifice seemed to be my Mom and Dad’s mantra. If they had the means, whether financial or physical, they were constantly giving back and pouring their own lives into those around them. I can’t tell you how many times I have watched them serve the needs of others and give selflessly.

As I’ve grown into my own, I’ve tried to follow the message that my parents instilled in me — giving back in specific ways as often and as freely as I can. I think it’s one of the greatest gifts we have and can give.

My bride of 27 years and I have been blessed in so many ways. Together, we have tried to figure out ways of giving back, just as our parents have taught us. Giving back is what brings me to the next phase of the story — the 1965 Chevelle.

Hearing about this car while growing up, it has been a dream of mine to someday give back to my parents the dream car they gave up for us. 1965 Chevelle’s are not a rare car and are easy to find, but I wanted to find one as close to my Dad’s model as possible. It hit me during the search — could I somehow find Mom and Dad’s original ’65 Chevelle?

1965 Chevelle Malibu SS
The original ’65 Chevelle before the restoration

When Dad sold his car, he sold it to a neighbor in Sunburg, so I knew where to start. I reached out to this person and learned that they still had the car, but they had plans to restore it themselves, so they were not interested in selling.

I’m in sales, and needless to say, I didn’t give up! Through multiple calls, we finally landed on an agreement and I was off to Sunburg with a flatbed trailer to pick up my Dad’s original ’65 Chevelle. As a bonus, I learned that the owner had kept the original purchase agreement signed by my Dad!

I found the car sitting in a grove of trees. It had been there since the mid-1970s.

The full restoration took over 15 months and the car was revealed through several key sponsors. Here in Minnesota, Luther Dealerships got behind the event and hosted a party for 200 guests at their Brooklyn Park store for both family and friends. Fame Hot Rods of Minnesota also helped greatly with a sponsorship of a portion of the restoration. Overall, the event was exactly as I’d dreamt it to be.

Since the event, I’ve had the privilege of watching my Mom and Dad drive, go to car shows, win car shows and simply relive what they gave up for us. This project has been a blessing beyond words. As I look back on the sacrifice, the adventure, the restoration and the final reveal, I’m taken aback at how truly intimate cars can be. They shape so many aspects of our lives.

While the Chevelle will be forever back in our family, the servant approach toward life is the moral behind the story. My parents sacrificed and gave back at every turn. Returning their car and watching them relive younger years – that restoration was priceless.

— Eric Gafkjen, Delano MN

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