Found in a Bowling Alley? ’69 Impala

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Found in a Bowling Alley? ’69 Impala

Owned by Bob & Sue Lindecker, Durango, Iowa

By Ron Wolf

Photos By Pete Sommers

A bowling alley…Bob Lindecker found his ’69 in a bowling alley? I guess in Durango, Iowa they convert defunct bowling alleys into places to store old cars. And that’s where Bob’s ’69 called home for several years before he became its new owner.

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Bob had been looking for a nice late great Chevy for a couple of years. He did the usual search through newspaper classifieds and magazine ads, surfing the Internet and haunting car shows and meets. Of course it never occurred to him to look inside bowling alleys! I can understand that because it’s not exactly where you would think to look for a cool, old Chevy. However, thanks to a casual conversation with coworker, Ducky Hingtgen, at John Deere Dubuque Works, about driving late great Chevys, he learned about his friend’s ’69 Impala convertible that was stored between lanes 29 and 31 at the now closed Starlight Bowl.

When he arrived at the bowling alley to see the car, it was in disappointing condition. Was it stored inside the bowling alley?—no, but he wished it had been. It had a set of 1963 bucket seats, not much of a top and a big hole in the floor. The drivetrain consisted of a 1965 327 ci engine with a Powerglide transmission. However, according to the VIN, it was originally outfitted as a 327 ci 4-speed with a bench seat. The car definitely needed a lot more work than anticipated, which was even more evident as it was being unloaded from the flatbed truck at Bob’s home.

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In order to save this car from the crusher, Bob knew he would need a parts car. Luckily, a friend told him about a two-door parts car in Missouri and someone that was moving back to this area who would be willing to bring it back with him. Once the parts car was delivered to the body shop Bob had hired to do the work, restoration was supposed to begin. I say ‘supposed to begin’ because it was at that point that another of Bob’s coworkers asked him about his car project. He wanted to know if Bob had given the job to a different body shop because it looked like his car he saw parked behind that shop in the snow! Bob went out right after work to see what car was out behind this other shop. To his displeasure, he found that the car was, indeed, his. The first shop that was supposed to be working on his car had outsourced it to another shop. After some intense discussion, the current shop began working on the car.

The work included an inexpensive overhaul on the 327 ci and installation of a TH350 transmission. A new top and carpet was installed and ’69 bucket seats were recovered to replace the tired ’63 seats. The first paint job at the shop was not good, so a couple years later the car was repainted and at the same time the bumpers re-chromed.

After 16 years and many miles driven in Iowa, South Dakota and Minnesota and a trip to Winnipeg, Canada, the 327 was getting tired. So in 2005 it was replaced with a 350 ci GM crate long block. Bob still has the 327 with hopes someday to overhaul it and put it back in the car to keep it as original as possible.

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