Outside, Jim made a big change-namely the body color, from the original Brands Hatch Green (the most-popular '71 Corvette color choice) to DuPont single-stage Porsche Red, sprayed on after the bodywork and paint prep were done.
Once Jim got his '71 right (in his view), what was it like to drive? "It's a dream-it's a pleasure to drive," Jim says. "We can hit the road in Texas in 105-degree heat and go all over, and we don't have to worry about overheating. Fuel mileage isn't very respectful on it, but it's to be expected with a big block. We're doing it for pure fun and pleasure."
Back in 1971, if you wanted good gas mileage in a new Chevy, you went with the Nova or the all-new Vega. With those two small-car lines plus Corvette, Chevelle, Monte Carlo, Camaro and an all-new fullsize Chevy (plus vans and C/K-series trucks), 1971 was a spectacular sales year for Chevrolet. Despite a 67-day national UAW strike against GM just after the '71s went on sale, Chevrolet sold more than three million cars and trucks that year for the first time ever. Nearly 22,000 of those were Corvettes, starting a decade-long Vette sales climb that peaked in 1979 with more than 53,000 Corvettes sold.
No matter what year Corvette you're looking at buying, Jim has this advice. "You darn sure better go see that car, inspect it yourself, and if you have a knowledgeable friend, you better take him with you." He says that his philosophy about Corvettes-shared by many-is that they're built to drive and enjoy. "I don't trailer anything," he says (despite having his '71 ferried home one time from Wichita Falls, Texas, to his home in Weatherford after his power-steering pump seized).
"I own three Corvettes-two are operational, and one's under restoration right now," Jim says. "It will be my last one because of my age. It's just time to finish this last one up, keep what I have, and enjoy 'em." His current (and final) project is a 327/300-powered '64 Sting Ray convertible, which will join Jim's '71 and a yellow '01 convertible when it's done.
Jim notes that some NCRS members, including more than a few of his friends and fellow Lone Star Corvette Club members, get on him about what he did to his Shark to make it driveable. "I catch a lot of repercussion from them, and we take it jokingly," he says. "It's my touch, it's my drive, and it's my Corvette, so I just laugh it off and go on."