USA-made Corvette's like a piece of rare art


THE rock star Prince famously had a major hit with a song about a red Corvette.

But now Thagoona's Trevor Jones' very own C1 1959 Corvette is proving to be a huge hit in car shows across the nation.

Wife Joy gives Trevor a kiss in the morning before he disappears into the back shed where two MG As, a 1960 Jaguar MK 2 and his beloved Corvette live.

The Roman red/white cove coloured Corvette has won a plethora of prestigious awards.

The body of the car was in immaculate condition when Trevor bought it in 2011.

But being a mechanic and a stickler for originality, he dismantled the engine and rebuilt it.

"I have always wanted a '58 or '59 Corvette," Trevor says.

"I actually found it on the internet through Kompact Kar Korner in America.

"The story of the car is that in the financial crisis over there, the guy that was having it restored went broke and lost his collection.

"The car looked exactly like this when I got it but he had changed a lot of things to use it as a personal drive car.

"It had the wrong manifold on it, a different carburetor and a different ignition system.

"I am a nut for originality, so when I got the car I stripped it down and rebuilt it."

Trevor's Corvette is to cars what a Picasso painting is to the art world.

"And it is a piece of art," he says.

"Have a look at it.

"If you park four cars together today - a Mercedes, BMW, Commodore and Falcon - and take the badges off, they all look identical.

"But the Corvette is absolutely glorious. Everywhere it goes it wins the people's choice (award), because it stands out."

Dave Evans, a friend who restores C1s in America, was able to determine that Trevor's car was manufactured at the St Louis Missouri Plant on Tuesday, April 14, in 1959 between 2pm and 3pm.

"It is like a birth certificate," Trevor grins.

And the Corvette is his baby.

"Trevor was asked on a TV show once whether it was his first love," Joy grins.

"He said, 'Oh no, my wife is my first love. She pays the cheques'.

"My friends said he was only after brownie points so he could get another car.

"He gives me a kiss in the morning and says 'goodbye' and goes up to the garage.

"He is a retired man, and all men should have a hobby when they retire or they go brain-dead. But he is not brain-dead. He likes his cars ... and he keeps them clean."

Mechanic Trevor Jones stripped down the engine of his 1959 C1 Corvette and rebuilt it back to originality.
Mechanic Trevor Jones stripped down the engine of his 1959 C1 Corvette and rebuilt it back to originality. Sarah Harvey

The couple, who also show a Mercedes 280 CE two-door coupe, are members of the Queensland branches of the Corvette, Mercedes Benz and MG car clubs along with the Noosa Beach Classic Car Club and the Australian and American branches of the National Corvette Restorers Society (NCRS).

"We don't look at them as an investment. We look at them as a way and means of doing things," Joy says.

"We have got a heap of friends in those clubs and we can visit them or go out to a jazz festival."

Joy doesn't help work on the cars, but she often gets called on when Trevor needs an extra pair of hands.

"He is a perfectionist," she says.

"I don't get annoyed, but there are times when I think, 'Has that got to be changed? Is that necessary?'"

The answer is always yes, because Trevor takes his car shows seriously.

"The challenge is to get them as good as I can to beat someone else," he says.

And he's done plenty of that.

Take the prestigious Australian International Concours d'Elegance in Melbourne in 2012 for example.

"There are only 150 cars from around the world invited and you have to make application. It is like sending your resume in," Trevor says.

The Corvette was the winner of the 'Post War Classic American and Australian' class to beat the world's best.

"I was totally blown away," Trevor says enthusiastically.

The fibreglass Corvette won the NCRS top flight award with a score of 95.8% in February last year, and again in November with 97.4%.

"When we get judged by the NCRS, we are not judged against another car. We are judged against this book," Trevor says, as he shows the QT the 1958-1960 Corvette Technical Information Manual and Judging Guide.

The Corvette was built in 1959 at the Chevrolet plant in Missouri.
The Corvette was built in 1959 at the Chevrolet plant in Missouri. Sarah Harvey

Every detail is scoured by the judges.

"It gets right down to the letters on the tops of bolts," Trevor says.

"In the strut that holds the bonnet up, there are four bolts in that, and they have got to have TR on them … and mine didn't.

"Mine had washers under it, and they never came off the assembly line with washers."

Trevor fixed the issues for the second judging and his score of 97.4% is as high as he can get it.

"The reason for that is because I get no points for the body … because it is too good," he says. "Back in 1959 when they sprayed them, it had orange peel in the paint."

But the car was subsequently painted in two-pack in the colours we see now.

In the second judging, there was one screw in the sun visor that was pointing in the wrong direction, which he has since fixed.

The car also won the 2013 Corvette Harvest of Alabama award for the Corvette that 'Best represents the American Spirit', which was adjudicated at the Corvette nationals.

That is special to Trevor because it is about "keeping the dream alive" and sums up not only the immaculate condition of his Corvette but also the heart and soul he has put into preserving its originality.

You get the feeling the Corvette 'project' is over and another beckons.

"I rang a guy today about a 1955 Thunderbird," Trevor grins.

"You can do another story on it if I buy it. It is red too."

The Corvette was built in 1959 at the Chevrolet plant in Missouri.
The Corvette was built in 1959 at the Chevrolet plant in Missouri. Sarah Harvey

Topics:  cars corvette motoring opinion qt big read

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