Joe Greeves
November 1, 2009

Chuck Winters' '65 Mercury Comet Cyclone
As many of us older enthusiasts have found out, qualifying for Social Security is a definite plus, especially when the checks arrive every month. Probably the only downside is that it formally signals the end of childhood. However, if you work it right, you can get a second shot at that magical time. Chuck Winters, a postal employee in Tampa, Florida, isn't quite ready for Social Security yet, but is definitely taking steps to guarantee a second childhood, thanks to his beautiful '65 Mercury Comet Cyclone, a car he's been dreaming about since age 16.

Chuck's car history goes back to the time when he was 12 in Albany, New York, and a regular Sunday visitor to Albany's Lebanon Valley Dragway. At age 14, he was able to convince his grandmother into buying his first car, a '35 five-window Chevrolet Coupe. Intent on overcoming the mistakes of youth, Chuck has been a Ford guy ever since, owning a series of interesting cars to include a Boss 302, a '36 Ford pickup, and the Mercury Comet Cyclone in these photos. The Cyclone is a comparatively rare car-only a few more than 12,000 were produced in 1965-and Chuck has been looking for one for a long time, going back to when the car first appeared. That moment occurred at age 16 when, once again at the strip, Chuck saw the first flip-top funny car built by Don Nicholson that used a replica of the Cyclone body. The sleek styling of the two-door hardtop made an impression on the teenager that is still strong today.

It took almost 20 years, but Chuck finally found the car of his dreams right in his own neighborhood, sitting in a restaurant parking lot. The man who owned it bought it for his son, but it turned out that the son had his heart set on a Pontiac Grand Prix. The owner was looking to sell and Chuck was ready to buy. Unrestored, but in fairly good shape, the car was a daily driver for about five years. Unfortunately, when a few things began going wrong the car became a long-term lawn ornament. In 2003, the rejuvenation process began in earnest with Chuck planning to restore the car to original condition. As he got deeper into the project however, he realized that many of the parts were too far gone to replace, so the theme shifted to creating a restomod.

Luckily, Chuck met Steve Hines, a body shop expert who became the lead in the restoration as well as a close personal friend. "Steve is a master of all trades," Chuck told us. "He does it all." The rotisserie restoration began by replacing the floorpans and a portion of the front frame that was badly rusted from a radiator leak. Rain seeping in the back window necessitated more rust repairs there as well. Most of the suspension remains stock, except for the new Rod & Custom Motorsports disc brake upgrade-11-inch disc with single-piston calipers front and rear along with 1-inch lowered springs, KYB gas shocks, and heavier sway bars (1-inch in front and 3/4-inch in the rear).