Al Worden’s 1971 Chevrolet Corvette from Apollo 15 has been located and is prepared for restoration.

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A 1971 Chevrolet Corvette that was once owned by Apollo 15 astronaut Al Worden and was abandoned and exposed to the elements for many years on a used car lot will soon be ready to travel once more.

The coupe was one of three vehicles that Jim Rathmann, a Chevrolet salesman from Melbourne, Florida and a 1960 Indy 500 champion, leased to the crew of the expedition for a year for just one dollar apiece.

Since the Mercury era, Rathmann had leased Corvettes to astronauts, well cognizant of the advertising benefit of having American heroes stomping around in his automobiles, but the Apollo 15 crew was the last.

The 454 cubic-inch V8 in Worden’s 1971 Corvette is shown in

Worden's 1971 Corvette features a 454 cubic-inch V8.

. Maxim Kaiserman

Pilot of a command module James Irwin and David Scott, two members of Worden’s crew, ordered theirs in coordinated red, white, and blue stripes. Worden decided on a 454 cubic inch V8-equipped white vehicle with a Muncie 4-speed manual transmission.

At the conclusion of the lease, when he returned it, it was sold into private ownership, went through a number of transfers, and finally ended up in Texas.

Danny Reed, a well-known Corvette collector, found it there and added it to his collection there in 2017, thereby formally establishing its history.

Reed also has Dave Scott’s blue 1971 Corvette and Apollo 12 astronaut Alan Bean’s 1969 Corvette, both of which he acquired directly from GM in 1971. When Reed discovered Worden’s car, it was still in driving condition but was severely weathered from being left outside for however many years.

Max Keiserman was acquainted with Worden through his company Luna Replicas. NASA/Max Kaiserman

Wordens’ grandson, Will Penczak, learned about the car and visited it at Reeds in 2020, according to Max Kaiserman, the proprietor of the space program memorabilia store Luna Replicas and a friend of Wordens. The same year Worden passed away, Penczak and Reed started debating what should happen to the car.

“We want to carry on Al Worden’s legacy of encouraging kids to pursue careers in science, math, and the arts.”

Together, Kaiserman and Penczak made the decision to buy it; not so they could fix it up and sell it at an auction, but so they could take care of it and make it available to everyone. They currently have an started Project AstroVette Endeavor and intend to partially restore it, display it in science museums, and utilize it as an educational tool at other gatherings.

Kaiserman stated, “We want to carry on Al Worden’s legacy of pushing young people to pursue the arts, math, and science, all of which the space program and the Corvette represent.

They’re still considering what to do with the 80,000-mile car because it still operates and is mainly rust-free but has had some minor repairs and parts replaced over the years. Whether to restore it to its previous state or keep it in its current state.

The Corvette of

Worden's Corvette has been repaired but not restored.

Worden has been fixed but not restored. Maxim Kaiserman

According to Kaiserman, a thorough rotisserie show car-quality restoration may cost a quarter of a million dollars or more, while a refresh to the standards of the National Corvette Restorers Society could cost over $100,000.

They’re open to any kind of aid with the project and are also requesting any 1970s images of the automobile you may have in order to better understand its original state, right down to the tires it had when Worden owned it. They now only have one image of the three astronauts from Life magazine, which shows them with their vehicles parked behind the mission’s Lunar Roving Vehicle, which was the first to travel to the moon.

How amazing that the last astronauts to drive a Rathmann Corvette were also the first to drive on the moon, Kaiserman remarked.
Al always radiated the traditional right thing attitude you associate with astronauts from the Apollo era.

According to collectSPACE editor Robert Pearlman, who also knew Worden, “Al always emanated that classic right stuff attitude you associate with the Apollo-era astronauts.” Pearlman is a historian of the American space program.

“He would undoubtedly be overjoyed to learn that his grandson was helping to restore his AstroVette, in addition to the fact that it was being done. When it is ready to go on the road, he would unquestionably want to be behind the wheel once more.”

The automotive editor for FoxNews.com, Gary Gastelu, covers the auto business and racing. @foxnewsautos

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