If you could save time in a bottle, what would you do with it? The answer is a clear one for Hoosier Pete Cook. This Muncie, Indiana, resident not only restored part of our heritage, he also recorded the events in fine details forthe Vette's future owner (namely his son John) so that the next generation could look back in time at the steps it took to preserve this small piece of history.
Back in March of 1970, Pete was doing as he does now, teaching Industrial Tech to the high schoolers in Muncie. It was during this time that a certain Mike Williams, a senior who shared Pete's auto-tech class, was using a '64 as daily transportation. To make a long story short, eventually the pink slip traded hands, and the teacher and pupil parted ways; one with a Corvette (hardtop included), the other with $1,800 for the car and (in a few months) a sheepskin for graduating. The Vette was in average condition, but that was short lived. "A month into ownership, the heater core ruptured. Mike was certainly under no obligation, but insisted he pay for the repair," Pete remembered. Mike has since gone onto taking over the family business, Northgate Motors in Muncie, and has sold Pete a second plastic beauty, a '79.
From 1976-99, the '64 sat next to the house unregistered. It was during this time Pete found several excuses not to start the restoration he decided his Vette needed-he didn't have a garage, he had a son on the way, the house needed more rooms-so we can hardly blame him for not finding the time. After all, family comes first! As the house construction started and took up different portions of the yard, Pete would move the '64 from one spot to another, then finally settling on the front yard for a small stint. It was on this day an excited buyer stopped in and offered to buy the old Chevy. All Pete had to do was say, "Just name the price."
"Nancy and I talked about selling the car; we could certainly use the money!" Cook informed us. "But we decided we shouldn't sell it." As the army of would-be buyers poured in, which included last owner Mike Williams who asked for his Vette back, Pete and Nancy continually discussed the possibility of selling the '64: "The remodeling was done and the garage was finished, so the pressure of needing extra money had subsided some. I was tempted, but declined," and continued to, even though the restoration had yet to start-even after a stray cat had her kittens on the passenger-side floorboard.
Now, as we all know, behind every great Corvette husband, there stands a (very patient and understanding) Corvette wife, and her name is Nancy. It was sometime after the kitten event that Pete's wife took a stand and threw down the gauntlet, telling her husband to "either start working on it or I'm going to start driving it!" Pete promptly obliged, but only partially. "I disassembled things to the point she couldn't drive it, but I could. After all, a guy has to do what a guy has to do!" he says. This maneuver, however, was short lived.
Once started, the results took six quick years before the final product in Riverside Red rolled onto the interstates with no more to be done to it. Along the way, Pete chronicled everything he did to it in a journal, which included a breakdown of the hours he put into the Vette himself and all his research notes on the quest to discover the original engine's horsepower. On top of that, Pete recorded the restoration photographically and even went as far as to point out several anomalies he discovered that lead him to believe the suspension once had a failure of massive proportions. But you could never tell by looking at his Vette now-a true testament to the time, effort, and energy that went into his second love. And what a love it is. I think if Pete could save time in a bottle-wait, he already has.