Couple combines talents in muscle car restoration

Staff photo by Fritz Busch
Janet and Steve Havemeier of rural New Sweden stand next to their restored 1971 Chevrolet Nova SS at the Classic Car Night finale at Dave’s Place in Lafayette Friday.

Staff photo by Fritz Busch Janet and Steve Havemeier of rural New Sweden stand next to their restored 1971 Chevrolet Nova SS at the Classic Car Night finale at Dave’s Place in Lafayette Friday.

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LAFAYETTE — Steve and Janet Havemeier made a night of it at the final Classic Car Night at Dave’s Place in Lafayette Friday.

A rural New Sweden hobby farmer, Steve Havemeier converted his former dairy barn into a machine shop of sorts a few years back and started a frame-off restoration of his 1971 Chevrolet Nova SS.

“I’ve had this car six years, but this is the first year I got it on the road,” Havemeier said. “My wife (Janet) helped me put the Chevrolet 350 crate motor in. It wasn’t easy with the big distributor in the rear of the engine and the (exhaust) headers.”

Janet agreed that mounting the engine in the car was challenging.

“I helped lower the engine into the car four times. That was enough of mounting an engine for me. But you can get addicted to this,” Janet said.

That’s not all. Steve credited Janet with three days of hard work installing and finishing the trunk carpet.

“I spent much of those three days bent down in the fetal position in the trunk,” Janet said.

Steve admitted the couple spends many of their summer week nights at area classic car events.

“We do everything together,” he added.

On Tuesdays, they’ll often go to Henderson. On Thursdays, they may be in Nicollet or Lake Crystal. On Friday, it’s on to Cleveland.

Steve retired in 2014 but he isn’t sitting around much.

Still producing field corn, sweet corn and beans on their 200-acre farm, the Havemeiers aren’t ending their restoration projects yet. Their next project is more of a cruiser than a muscle car, restoring a 1979 Lincoln Mark V.

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