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1958 Corvette

Jack H. Pape Has Been To Heaven And Back In His ´58 Fuelie

Dustin Dwyer Nov 1, 2000

Step By Step

Everyone knows how love stories go: boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy restores girl to original specs--well, that’s how it works for Corvette owners anyway, and Jack H. Pape is a Corvette owner in the truest sense of the word. His love story began on March 30, 1958, "a warm and sunny Sunday," when Jack first drove the gorgeous fuelie you see here. Maybe it was that curvaceous body, like candy for the eyes, or the 290hp fuel-injected engine always itching for a ride; either way, Jack was hooked and there was no going back. He drove his charcoal ´58 with the top down all spring, pushing that four-speed transmission and cruising to the tunes on his Wonderbar radio. He had just turned 21, and things could not be better.

In August, Jack’s tale turned tragic. He was out on the road with a buddy of his and, as he rounded a curve, he found himself face to face with an oncoming car. Jack turned sharply, avoiding the collision, but the Corvette flipped on the sloping shoulder. "Fortunately, neither my buddy nor I was injured, but my Corvette sustained quite a bit of damage."

Boy loses girl.

Jack, deciding that the fuelie was going to need some serious bodywork anyway, decided to customize his ride to set it apart from the pack. "I had the front and rear ornaments, reflectors, trunk strips, cross flags, side spears, rear bumperettes, and front license-plate holder removed. The car was then repainted Candy Apple Red and Gold." As you can imagine, this bold combination earned Jack quite a bit of attention, and he won several trophies in his almost-new show car. By the early ´60s, though, bright red was out, and Jack opted for another makeover, this time painting his Corvette British Racing Green with white rolled and pleated Naugahyde interior. This is how it would stay for three decades.

In 1962, Jack was married, and "family life" quickly followed. The Corvette was driven less and less until, in 1972, the rear spring broke and Jack didn’t have the money to have it repaired. He covered his beloved convertible in old drapes, storing it in his unheated garage "without another thought until our family was grown." For 21 years the Corvette’s only company was the pack of mice that had taken shelter in its engine.

In the summer of 1993, it was time--for the mice and the car--to come out. Jack and his wife Dorothy were hard at work cleaning out the garage, when Dorothy suggested pushing the Corvette out to give it a wash and maybe polish the chrome. As Jack puts it, "That was just the beginning! The bug to get it running and back on the road hit us hard." The engine, transmission, and fuel injection were all rebuilt due to mice damage, and the interior and body were both returned to their original colors.

Jack wants us to know that "This isn’t the story about a Corvette I own, but one about a Corvette I love and have grown old with. My Corvette was driven and enjoyed like any 21-year-old would have, and now is loved for her classic beauty and treated like a lady by this almost 63-year-old." Now that’s a love story.

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