Apollo Astronaut’s 1971 Chevy Corvette Rotted in a Field for Years, But Now It’s Being Restored

The 1971 C3 “AstroVette” was given to Apollo 15 astronaut Al Worden in a special $1 lease deal.

byPeter HolderithAug 3, 2022 7:19 PM
Apollo Astronaut’s 1971 Chevy Corvette Rotted in a Field for Years, But Now It’s Being Restored
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The Apollo program's moonshot was partially powered by the Chevy Corvette—Tom Wolfe doesn't need to tell you that—and there's a new project underway to restore an Apollo 15 astronaut's 1971 Corvette to keep that legacy alive, as highlighted by collectSPACE. The C3 in question, one of three that was custom-painted for the mission's crew, was leased to Apollo astronaut Al Worden, who was the command module pilot on the fourth lunar mission and passed away in March 2020. It sat exposed to the elements in a field for years. Now his grandson, Will Penczak, is restoring of his classic Corvette coupe along with Luna Replicas, a company that produces space collectibles.

The vehicle was purchased by Penczak and Luna Replicas proprietor Max Kaiserman five years after it was found by a collector. According to Kaiserman, it can't be preserved in its current state due to neglect and its continuing deterioratation.

It is, needless to say, very rare. All lunar mission crews received Corvettes for a year in a now famous $1 lease deal from General Motors. Only six were custom painted like Worden's. Today, just three custom-liveried machines exist. The same collector who sold Penczak and Kaiserman the white "AstroVette" also owns the blue one, pictured below.

The three Corvettes originally leased to the Apollo 15 crew. Only the white and blue cars are still known to exist, the former of which is now being restored. Project AstroVette Endeavour

Speaking to collectSPACE, Penczak said the vehicle is a, "unique preservation of what we deem as a very important part of American history," and noted its importance to his family as well. He will conduct some of the initial restoration on the vehicle himself along with Kaiserman. The Corvette not only needs replacements for things that have deteriorated naturally like the rubber components, but it also needs cosmetic and mechanical work, too. "We are also looking at some fiberglass and paint damage because it sat outside for so long," Kaiserman said.

The duo expects the full price of the restoration to cost around $150,000-$200,000. They are planning "public fundraising activities and hope to recruit corporate partners," to pay for the work. After the job is complete, there are special plans in store for the vehicle as well. They want to drive it 250,000 miles around the country. "As many miles as it takes to get to the moon," according to Penczak. Their intent is to share the piece of history with all who care to see it.

There is currently no timeline to complete the restoration, however, updates have so far been found on the collectSPACE Facebook page.

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