Owner Spotlight: Alexandra Fowler’s ’66 LeMans Convertible

It’s not every day when we see a younger person rescue a classic car from the verge of extinction. Most high-school or college-aged kids are seemingly not into cars at all, or tend to veer towards modern imports. Alexandra Fowler is the exception.

What started as a school project, turned out to be an ongoing pursuit to bring a classic car back to life. High School project? A couple of years ago, her school replaced the typical year-end exams with a personal project of their choosing. Having to go through an approval process, and having to have to pick something that can be completed within a year, by the end of the school year, she ended up with this ’66 Pontiac Lemans convertible. Other contenders were Chevy Novas and Impalas, since her father, Merrill, is a Chevy man.

She found the car at Carolina Cars Fountain Inn — a small business nearby that sells fixable project cars, and some parts cars. According to Dad, the LeMans was somewhere in between. Nobody was sure if there was any life in the engine at all, or if it was locked up. Luckily, it cranked and wasn’t seized, thankfully. The body needed a lot of work, and there was a lot of body filler, but there was enough there to work with.

Now let’s be clear; Alexandra could have picked any type of project for her school exam, but she picked a car. Why? Because she was inspired by her father who owned classic Camaros and Corvettes over the years, and they both saw it as an opportunity to have a father/daughter project. That was also part of the stipulation of the project; it had to be Alexandra’s own responsibility, she could pick a “mentor” to help her, and they had to do all of the work themselves, per the proposal she was required to outline to the school.

She always had a casual interest in cars, and spent countless summers at car shows with dad. Her father initially suggested a car as a project, but Alexandra didn’t hesitate for a second.

Under the hood, is a Pontiac 400 that’s backed by a manual 3-speed transmission, that’s mounted on the column — three on the tree! There isn’t too many go-fast part on the engine yet, but as time and money allow, we’re sure that’s going to change soon enough.

The focus of the project, simply, was to clean it up, get it running properly, and make it as presentable as possible for the school judges. Of course, with limited time and funds, they needed help. Namely, a sponsor.

Merrill called several of the larger restoration parts suppliers, and nobody was really wiling to help out. It wasn’t until Pat Staton of YearOne MuscleCars threw his hat into the ring. He saw the potential of the car, but more importantly, he saw the potential of Alexandra and Merrill. As someone who has worked in the industry for many years, he understands the importance of getting the next generation involved into the hobby. If it means getting new young people into the industry, even better.

The parts list wasn’t one or two things, either. It was a lot, including; emblems, a master cylinder, 17-inch Rally II wheels, brake lines, fuel lines, window cranks, carpet, trim, a front disc brake conversion, and on and on. With YearOne being only about 90-minutes away, Merrill went directly to them and loaded up all of the parts in his own vehicle.

Now, the car could’t simply be cosmetically improved; it had to run and drive under its own power, no matter what, in order to receive a passing grade. In typical classic car fashion, the car decided to start going the Fowler’s issues about a week before it was due to be turned in, the car simply wouldn’t start.

Initially, the Fowler’s thought it may have been a wiring issue somewhere in the harness — something — considering the starter was brand new. They were both equally right and wrong. It was related to the starter, but it was the cable that ran to the back of the starter. They replaced that and the car fire right up, and ran perfectly.

Needless to say, Alexandra received a passing grade, and has taken the car with her into the college chapter of her life. There’s still some work that needs to be handled; including a new convertible top, but the car will get there soon enough. We look forward to seeing the car fully-completed. But then again, they’re never really “finished,” are they?

Share this post