Then, in January 1998, Marie gave me an ultimatum: finish it or sell it! This gave me the ambition I needed (funny how wives have a way of doing that). I hit the project hard and by March was ready to drop the body back in place. I'd read about the '73 Silver Salute at the upcoming Bloomington Gold and was determined to be there with my (her) Corvette. Toward the end, I was tempted to hurry up and finish, but having invested so much time and effort, I convinced myself to do it right.
We reunited the body and frame in May, and took the car to Pro Collision of West Michigan to be stripped and painted. They do a lot of specialty work, and know how to do it right. The waves in the left quarter were the results of a previous repair and, in fact, the entire left corner of the body had been replaced. Fixing this took more time than anticipated because the previous repair (?) had been done with drywall tape and epoxy! I felt pretty good about my Bloomington deadline until a windstorm struck the area, leaving the shop without power for several days. After four weeks, they completed the job (fiberglass repairs, new factory orange paint, plus clearcoating, which gives the '73 an extremely deep finish) and I brought it home for final reassembly.
I finished it two days before we left for Bloomington and there wasn't time for a road test, so its test was the 350-mile trek to Illinois. It performed flawlessly and showed well in the Silver Salute.
I'm very proud of our project. I disassembled virtually every nut and bolt on the car and renewed or replaced as necessary. As for the color? Well, Marie decided that the orange grew on her over the years, so we kept it original. And we've discovered that the orange exterior with black interior is somewhat uncommon, so we're glad we left it that way. The license plate reflects Marie's true opinion of the paint-she still thinks it's, "2ORANGE!"
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