Bob Doucette has four grown children. The youngest two, who are 38 and 42, were asked if they’ve seen this Corvette? They have never seen it driven because it has been parked before they were born.
Bob agreed to take us where few people have gone, the car’s “at-the-moment, final resting place,” a single-car garage in his dad’s house.
“I was born November 13, 1950, and this is where they brought me from the hospital. I was raised here,” Bob said as we walked up two steps of a small concrete porch, flanked by tall evergreen trees.
“I kept this since my dad passed away. It looks inside like it did when my dad had to leave to go to the nursing home.”
Bob showed me the house key, worn almost paper thin from 50 years of use. Inside, the house was cluttered and a time capsule, from an antique stove, working in 1953, to the ornate 1950’s TV cabinet in front of which Bob sat as a kid and in his mother’s words, “too close to the set, you’ll ruin your eyes” to watch shows like Captain Kangaroo, The Mickey Mouse Club and The Wonderful World of Disney.
When Bob’s father passed away in 2004, Bob simply locked the doors and left the place as is, which included safe storage for his 1955 Corvette.
We entered a small living room, turned left into a kitchen and opened a door to a single-car garage, completely dark. Bob flipped the switch to an overhead garage light to reveal the back end of a partially covered 1955 Corvette.
Maybe it was the vintage of the house. Maybe it was the dust on the car. Disbelief struck my retinas as much as light waves. I expected to see a 1955 Corvette as I had seen many times; but, the sight never struck me like this, in multiple freeze frames over a period of a second or two until my brain finally linked early Corvette images with what was before me, a vision from the past, transposed in the present.
That sight was incredible. Never in my life had an old car jolted me into a distant past so resoundingly.
Bob drifted back 50 years to 1968, the year he graduated high school. His dad harbored a fascination with the Corvette from that first 1953 model, which was continued into 1955 with small changes and one big change, the Corvette’s first V-8.
In 1968, one of Bob’s friends spotted a for sale ad in the Amarillo, Texas, newspaper for a 1955. The price was $600, not exactly cheap for what it was, but not expensive either.
The 1955 was not a creampuff. The numbers-matching V-8 was gone, replaced with a 283 bored to 301 cubic inches and timed by a Duntov cam. The car had “stalled out” from an amateur restoration, including a repaint, which explains missing trim on the sides, front, and stone guards over both headlights.
Although a graduation present for the son, the 1955 delighted the father, as well. Bob drove the Corvette 60 miles home to a small town in West Texas, and over that summer he and his father got the car ready for Bob to drive.
His college ride was a ’66 Caprice two-door, but Bob rented an old garage in the college town of Canyon, Texas, out of which he drove his sports car in the dual-use manner that Chevrolet intended, for street and track. He also joined a local Corvette club and participated in many shows throughout the next 9-10 years.
The car’s last registration was 1977, when “raising the family” duties arrived. Once the kids were grown and gone, Bob never got the car out again, which begs the question. Rather than store the 1955, why not sell?
As Bob sorted through his mixed emotions, he said, “Let me think about that.”
Bob cited many reasons not to sell, starting with being a “pack rat” and a “holder-on’er.” He still derives enjoyment from owning the 1955, and is “comfortable” the car is “safe and out of the weather.” He also takes pride not to have “relinquished it and felt remorse selling,” as he has done with other vehicles over the years. Finally, Bob has recently retired and will have more time to get the car out of storage and running again as a driver. He has grandkids that are approaching prom days and have “expressed real interest to be delivered to the prom in the 1955 Corvette.”
In the final analysis, this car is not for sale and cannot be bought. The memories are too strong. The car will one day go to his heirs.
“I’ve been saving it. Let them worry about it.” Vette
Photos by Jerry Heasley