By Alan Grunenwald
I am a old school Ford guy and have built many ’60s Fords and Mustangs and drive them in good weather. But in December of 2014 I heard by word of mouth about a 1956 Corvette project car 30 minutes south of Galena, Ill.
A guy owned it for 40 years and had put a price on the car due to health reasons. I mulled it around for a few weeks and I finally tracked the guy’s phone number and called him. The car was legit and a project car, and also a hefty sum of dollars. I consulted with Corvette expert John Hafferbecker of Stevens Point, Wis., about details and to make sure the car was feasible to restore. I knew the 1956-’57 Corvette was probably one of the most beautiful cars ever made! Venetian Red with white coves is a great look and very desirable.
The history of the car was interesting. The owner, Larry, bought the car in the Los Angeles area from a dentist just after he got out of Vietnam in 1972. He flew out and drove the car home on Route 66 that summer of 1972. He drove the car until 1979, then decided to restore it. The project stalled and sat until 2015 in its current state. It had the original motor and drive train, but needed all new chrome, paint and mechanicals. There were only 32,000 miles on the odometer.
We got the car bought and back to my shop and a week later, in January 2015. We started the restoration and I got the car done in five months working on it 30 to 50 hours a week. Amazingly, the motor was very sound. It has an original 265-cid four-barrel and three-speed manual.
Corvette Central was the parts supplier for us. I did 100 percent of the restoration myself.
We drove the 3,200 miles in the summer of 2015. We are going to drive it down on Route 66 this summer, hoping to make it to mid point, in Texas. Route 66 is a destination in itself, especially in an old Corvette!
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