The connection between the Chevrolet Corvette and NASA's early astronauts is well known. Government regulations prevented the automaker from establishing a direct relationship, but for the tidy sum of $1.00, astronauts could lease a 'Vette for a year. It was a way for Chevy to grab some attention, and let's be honest – for folks literally riding on the tips of rockets, there are less-exciting cars to drive than a big-block Corvette.
The C3 Corvette featured here is particularly special. It was leased to Astronaut Alfred Worden for the aforementioned sum of $1.00, but it wasn't something just driven off the lot. It was custom-painted for Worden, as were two other 1971 Corvettes driven by his Apollo 15 crew members, Commander David Scott and Lunar Module Pilot James Irwin. Furthermore, it's one of only six "Apollo" Corvettes that received such custom treatment. And this one is being saved.
Worden's Corvette was parked in a field for years, according to the National Corvette Museum. It was found on a used car lot in 2017, still in original condition wearing its custom colours but the elements hadn't been kind. The purchaser decided to leave it untouched, and it was actually on display at the Corvette museum along with another custom Apollo Corvette from Apollo 12. Now, Luna Replicas is partnering with Alfred Worden's grandson to buy the Corvette and restore it to its former glory.
There's another piece of automotive history connected to this story that makes it extra special. Apollo 15 was NASA's fifth trip to the Moon, but it was the first of the more ambitious "J" missions designed for broader lunar exploration and scientific research. As such, it was the first mission to use the Lunar Roving Vehicle – the first manned car to operate on another world. And Command Module Pilot Al Worden was responsible for getting it there.
Back on Earth, his former 1971 Corvette is said to be one of just three custom Apollo cars still in existence. Sadly, Worden passed away in 2020 so he won't see the C3's restoration. But it's brilliant to know the iconic Chevrolet will endure as a time capsule for one of the most significant moments in human history.