FOUND: '58 Corvette,290hp, fuel-injected, four-speed with posirearend, and both tops. One of 1,007made.
Back around 1970, my buddy Tom wasin California riding his Harley and enjoyinghis lifestyle. He ran into this kid witha Corvette that he wanted to sell. Tomworked out a trade for his Harley andwas soon driving the Corvette home toMinnesota. The motor was burning oil,but it ran pretty good. Tom was scoffedat along the way by a couple of guyswith `57 Vettes, who told him what amistake he made because the `58s were"junk and undesirable." Apparently, thefactory had added more chrome and awashboard hood that made the car witha lot of "one year only" pieces. Tomstarted thinking he had made a mistake.He eventually got home about 25 quartsof oil later. He drove it around for thesummer before parking it in his shed,while he thought about working on themotor and fixing it up a little.
Around 1977 or so, I stopped by Tom'shouse, and while in his shop, I drooledover the Corvette. As a teenager, Ithought it was so cool. I hadn't ever beenup close to one and now Tom was allowingme to climb in and take a look. Whata dream!
Tom, like so many of us, had a millionprojects to take care of. The Corvette gotput under a canvas tarp and put to theside. Over the years, I visited Tom nowand then, and we became good friends. Iwould always look at the exposed rearfender of the Corvette, but we didn't talkabout it much. Tom had promised to givesome of his best friends the first optionto buy it if it did go up for sale. So I justfigured the Corvette was out of reach forme. I knew it was not for sale; I didn'thave the money to buy it anyway.
Around 1991, I told Tom I would helphim get it on the road if he wanted, buthe declined. He was too busy with otherprojects at the time and couldn't swingextra money for the Corvette.
In 2004, I came down with Corvette"fever" with a `69 Corvette I found inCarlsbad, California, that had been onblocks for 18 years. I flew down there,got it running, and drove it home. Itwas one of those lifetime experiencesthat was a great and fun education.
A couple of weeks before Thanksgiving2004, I happened to be in town andstopped by to see Tom. He had justbought a farm and was in the process ofmoving all his stuff. While in his shop, Isaw that the Corvette was uncovered. Ithad been 20 years since I had seen ituncovered and I just had to take a closerlook. I checked it out, and asked Tom ifhe would ever sell it. He replied he wouldif someone ever offered him the rightmoney for it.
Now, many people had tried to buy hisCorvette over the years, but, apparently,they were never serious enough. Iremember asking how much he wantedfor the car years earlier, and the price wasway out of line. He told me he planned tokeep it until he got that price. When Iasked him how much it would take tobuy the Corvette, he replied with the pricehe had placed on it years ago. I asked him,"Would you really let it go if someone gaveyou that much?" He replied he probablywould. I just left it at that and went home.
When I got home, I did a little researchon the car and called my Uncle Carl, whohas been building cars for a long time. Iconsider him a person to be reliable and tobring me back in check when I get "feverish"about cars I find.
I called Tom that night after checkingmy bank account.
"Hey, Tom, done working for thenight?"
"No, I'm still at it. I have a lot to do."
"Tom, I want to buy the Corvettefrom you."
"Well, I thought about it after youleft, and I don't think I will sell it."
"I'm talking cash tomorrow." (Longpause) "Tom, are you still there?"
"Yes, I'm here. I'm just thinkingabout it."
"I have cash, and I'm definitely willingto make the deal."
"I think I'll just sleep on it and give itsome thought first. I'm not really interestedin parting with it."
"OK, Tom, just let me know if youchange your mind."
"I'll call you tomorrow and let youknow one way or the other."
"All right, Tom. Later."
Disappointed, I hung up the phone. Ishould have known that Tom wouldn'tsell the car. The next day around 3 p.m., Ichecked my cell phone messages and Tomhad called. I figured that Tom was justcalling to tell me he was going to keepthe car. I knew he couldn't separate himselffrom that car. I was wrong!
Tom's message went like this: "HeySteve. Tom here. I've been thinking anddecided that I would sell you theCorvette. You have more time to work onit than I do and a better place to work onit. I guess I've had it long enough."
I called Tom back and told him Iwanted to get the car that night. Hereplied that he wouldn't be able to getthe car out of where it was that quickly. Ijust told him that I would help him. Itwould be fun to work along Tom to digout the Corvette. I had 15 minutes left ofwork, and I couldn't get out of there fastenough. I ran to the bank and got thecash. I then ran home and got the truckand trailer and went to Tom's house,which was about an hour away.
When I got there, Tom already had thecar dug out and pushed into the yardback in the alley. We shook hands andwent into his house to make the deal.Tom had the original California title,Minnesota title, and all paperwork to thecar. He had the previous owner's name,address, and phone number, and everypiece of paper that belonged to the car. Icounted out the bills, and he made out aproper receipt and signed it over.
We got outside and got the trailerready. I was surprised at how light thatcar was when we pushed it onto thetrailer. We got it winched down, and westood there looking at it. I think both ofus were near tears. I was amazed thatTom sold it to me, and Tom was amazedthat the car now belonged to someoneelse. I asked Tom why he decided to sell itto me instead of one of his best friends.Tom said, "We've known each other for along time, Steve. I'm glad the Corvette isgoing to a home where I know it will beappreciated instead of some collector,who will put it in his climate-controlledliving room. I know you will take care ofit and drive it. This should also tell youthat we might be closer friends than youthink." I just looked at Tom and felt abond that was amazing.
bond that was amazing.I hated to leave and wanted to justhang out with Tom, but it was gettinglate. I had to get back to work, and Iwanted to make sure the car wassecured right away that night. Now, neitherTom nor I are the kind of guys whohug other guys, but we did--and it wasright, man.
I called my brother, Merle, and toldhim I needed to put a car I just bought inhis garage for the night. When I gotthere, he about fell down when he sawTom's Corvette on the trailer. He said,"Did you buy it? Why did he sell it to you,I've known him longer than you?"