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That's What I Want

The Best Things in Life Are Free--Except for a '59 Roadster

James Miles Sep 30, 2004

It won't give you everything, it's true, but Radford and Cordy were probably not considering the importance of a Corvette when they wrote the golden oldie "Money" way back when. If they had, the lyrics might have been rewritten to include the price of such an endeavor. But as we all know, the price of your chosen vintage of plastic is nothing compared to the joy of owning it. Just ask Dean Wandry of Highlands Ranch, Colorado, if you need a second opinion.

Dean had been looking for his childhood dream for many years and finally came across this '59 in Inca Silver paint when a young woman in Arizona decided an older Corvette was too much to maintain after a few short months of ownership. She had acquired it from a dealer who had purchased the Vette from a man in San Diego who had kept the car since at least 1976 (all records from years prior have been purged). But what made Dean decide that a Corvette was his must-have for transportation? It all started when...

Back in high school, Dean drove the family '49 Buick. Then, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy and became stationed overseas; so as such, he never experienced the fantasy most youngsters have--to own a great car. But he still had his dreams, even though all of his money was being saved for something a little more important than a vehicle--a college education. So, in the meantime, Dean would own everything from a '55 Chevy to a '58 MGA 1500. But rated at 78 hp, the British roadster seemed to be getting further away from his dreams of owning his cool car; specifically, a '59-60 Corvette. "When they removed the heavy chrome from the '58, the car was just perfect to me," Dean tells us. "It had graceful lines, seemed beefy with the dual headlights, and looked ready to spring away from the stop light. It definitely came off an artist's drawing board, not out of a wind tunnel." In the end, Dean maintained his dream for over 40 years, getting married, raising four children, working through several careers, and then finally retiring. It was then that he was able to refocus on his original plan, and the day finally arrived when he drove his cool car home to show his wife. "She stood in the driveway and cried, saying, 'I didn't know this was what you wanted. It's beautiful,'" Dean remembers.

As with all older builds, the '59 needed a little work right from the get-go. When the roadster was purchased, the body and chrome were in good shape, and everything was straight enough that it looked as if the Vette had never been hit. But the engine was a different story and was a "hodge-podge of correct and incorrect pieces" that had been rebuilt with someone else's spare parts. On top of that, the engine wasn't the only item that needed a rebuild. The transmission was functional but needed a good going through, and the interior was a mix of "original and 2001 Taiwan." However, the Wonderbar radio was complete--sans a working clock. So a quick frame-on resto ensued, and after a very heavy detailing of the engine compartment and underside (which included several bolts, hangers, brackets, a clock rebuild, and several layers of paint), the '59 was out and rolling on the interstates a mere 16 months later. But the devil is in the details as far as the shows are concerned, and while Dean has a very nice-looking '59, it's "generally not correct and would not get a Top Flight." But who cares with a Corvette as nice-looking as this? Apparently not all judges, as Dean has come to experience. Out of 10 shows, the '59 has walked away with eight firsts, two seconds, and two Best of Show awards. And just what does he do with it when he's not at shows? The answer is a simple one: "That's easy, I drive it," Dean answers emphatically. In all seasons, on all nice days (meaning dry with no salt or sand), you can find this roadster pulling up to the lights, gaining positive reactions from the crowds of onlookers, and fending off race challenges from the younger kids, "Occasionally the high school kids ask me if I want to race. Most of them don't realize the car is 45 years old," he says, but that doesn't bother Dean, who has been told by several people that he's driving their dream. But after waiting 40 years, even we'll agree, that this '59 is Dean's dream, and will be forever.


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