As a noted historian once observed, "It is always the inclination of man to deny reality, to tidy things up, to wrap perception in a pretty party ribbon..."
As proof of this truism, ancient rulers often covered up military losses with accounts of their debacles chiseled into stone as great victories. Today, spin doctors for celebs explain away tantrums resulting in broken hotel furniture as, "an allergic reaction to medication." And when it comes to early Corvettes, we often look at them through the rose-colored glasses of nostalgia, romanticizing their real performance abilities.
Jack Blitvich admits to once wearing a pair of those spectacles, but only after taking a bumpy ride down memory lane to rescue an abandoned '62 Corvette. He became wiser for his pain, however, bringing it forward with a modern drivetrain and tubular chassis from SRIII Motorsports. Before focusing on those technical details, we should recount how Blitvich came upon this epiphany.
Like so many of us, his initial experience with Corvettes was imprinted during his youth. "I was 13 the first time I saw the 1961 Corvette," he recalls. "Up until then, I wasn't part of the fan base for the relatively new line of cars. As soon as I saw the new body style, I was a fan. When the 1962 Corvette was introduced, the next year, with the new 327, I was in love."
It would be more than two decades, though, before he could get into his first Corvette. In the meantime, his overly clever but well-meaning relatives would give him Corvette trinkets (tie tacks, pens, pencils, belt buckles, and the like) whenever he said that all he ever wanted for Christmas was a Corvette. (We confess to having that same frustrated yearning, so we feel his pain.)
Fast-forward to the early '80s. A neighbor lost his old British sports car in a fire, and was looking for a replacement. Like something out of a fairy tale, he told of a mysterious and wonderful place called "Bloomington" where Corvettes virtually grow on trees. Only this was no Grimm's fantasy.
"I remember my first sight in the parking lot even before we went in," Blitvich relates. "I saw a guy counting out $2,800 to buy a Fawn Beige '62 right there in the lot. I knew this would be a good time."
He wasn't able to peel off a wad of Benjamins that day, but he did subscribe to Corvette magazines (presumably this one first) and join both the NCRS and the Solid Axle Corvette Club (SACC). He talked endlessly to others about his new "hobby," even though he didn't even have a car yet. Soon, soon, he kept reassuring himself.
Then the neighbor who took him to Bloomington threw even more temptation his way, casually mentioning that he had spotted an abandoned '62, covered in snow, lying next to a body shop. Barely able to contain himself, Blitvich braved blizzard conditions to peer through a fence at the object of his desire, ignoring the cold in his fingers from clutching the chain links. "While it looked awful, even from the street where I stood, I knew I had to have this car," he says.
Easier said than done, however. Turns out the owner of the shop was keeping the car as collateral for a customer's debt, and the owner of the Corvette wasn't all that inclined to pay up. Sensing the time was right, as older Vettes were beginning to increase in value, Blitvich tried to track down the shop owner to discuss buying the car. It took five tries, but Blitvich finally caught up with him one weekend night, struck a deal, and towed the '62 home on a borrowed trailer.
"My wife, Gloria, who had been waiting up, poked her nose out the door when she heard the commotion and said, 'I thought you were getting a Corvette.'" That might sound like a tart remark from one of those reality-TV shows, but in truth, she couldn't tell what the dilapidated hulk was. There was no interior, the soft top was in tatters, the tires were flat and muddy, and the drivetrain was MIA.
This inauspicious beginning, however, was the start of an adventure that has given Blitvich and his family loads and loads of good times. Hours and days were spent looking for the parts that didn't come with the car.