Girls Like Cars Too

Most people would not expect a woman to want to start a restoration project but that’s what I did. What was I thinking?

Several years ago my brother, Mike, called wondering if I would be interested in an old 1974 Corvette, 350, 4-speed, which needed a lot of work. Being the only daughter of a mechanic and sibling of two brothers in the same line of work, I was notorious for owning muscle cars since I was a kid. And I wanted to hear more. It would be six months before I would even see it in person.

This old car had been sitting outside in the Georgia weather for nine years. The body was in pretty good shape and the T-Tops didn’t leak but it did need a lot of work. But leave it to me to open a can of worms that would end up costing me enough money over five years for a good down payment on another house.

Mike offered to take care of all the mechanical work; the rest would be my problem. For $3500 you can acquire a first class nightmare. But I had a vision.

Mike had inherited my grandfather’s farm complete with an old slanting chicken house had been turned into a redneck garage complete with dirt floor and rusty corrugated tin roof; there isn’t much that couldn’t be done in there. Years and years of parts in bins and piled in corners, a hoist overhead hanging from one of the exposed wooden beams as well as all the guy tools imaginable.

After about a year and a half and much badgering, it was running pretty good. Of course most everything had to be replaced. The motor had been replaced previously. A new transmission, still in the box, had been included in the mix and it was ready for the drive to Central Florida where it would now call home.

Being a treasure diver didn’t offer me much time at home but every three weeks or so I would be home tinkering, working toward my goal. I had found a supplier of Corvette parts who, I’m sure wished he had never answered my original call.

First I ripped out the tattered carpet, removed the seats and spent months loosing old bolts, vacuuming cobwebs, spray painting and oiling movable parts of the seats. When I turned it over to the body guy I thought the less problems he had the less it would cost me.

The dash was nothing short of a horror story. Wiring had been spliced together with duck tape and most of the gauges and dash lights were not working. I ran new wiring, replaced bulbs and gauges and pretty much else I could figure out on my own using the assembly manual I had picked up on E-Bay.

Although my body man, Eddie, wanted nothing to do with it. After six months or so I caught him at a time when business was slow and he relented but made it clear it would be a side job and if I was in a hurry I might as well take it somewhere else. But I knew he was the best in the area and I wanted him so I agreed.

Two years later it was ready for the interior to be completed. By this time nothing surprised me. The paint job had been done by a paint rep flown out from Texas, which had talked Eddie into trying a new brand of paint, later this had to be stripped off. Back down to the fiberglass after it bubbled up over ever inch of the car.

Months and months of using great, ok, and bad mechanics took its toll on my pocketbook and me but my vision had come to pass. She turns heads wherever I go. Guy’s stop me at traffic lights wanting to know “What year?”. I have had kids ask me if I am a racecar driver and my neighbors look at me like I am nuts. But I love my car!