While many of us attempt to rationalize our Corvettes by using them to commute, offering rides to our significant others, restoring them as investments, or even by entering sanctioned racing events, there's no arguing that the money used to purchase, fuel, and modify these limited-use conveyances falls under the rubric of "expendable income." But while a Vette can sometimes be difficult to justify in a strictly fiscal sense, it does offer enjoyable travel and relief from the day-to-day stresses of life, all of which can lead to higher productivity.
Of course, like other transportational frivolities such as a yacht or airplane, a Corvette must be properly maintained if it's to offer the expected rewards of ownership. Moreover, the car's appearance should be reflective of its intended use and/or its owner's attitude and position in life. [What are you trying to say?-Ed.] Though we did restore our Stingray's existing paint in a previous issue, there was no doubt that Project C3 Triple-Ex's older, aesthetically unappealing paintjob remained unsuitable for a magazine project car. To rectify this malfeasance, we decided to treat the '71 Stingray to a fresh paint scheme. We justified the decision in part by telling ourselves that the new paint would protect the vehicle from the elements, but the truth is that we simply wanted the car to look its best, as it represented the magazine.
As with all capital expenditures, there are some parts of a restoration project where it pays to spend a little more, because the rewards are exponential. When building a Corvette, we've found that bodywork and paint are areas that fit that criterion, since good materials and professional work really show in the quality of the finished product. This is not to suggest that you have to spend the majority of your project funds on a paintjob, as you'll ultimately reach a point of diminishing returns. But we certainly wouldn't recommend having your Vette painted by a budget paint shop using cheap paint and materials. Alternatively, while companies specializing in Corvette restorations are likely to perform quality work and offer a "turnkey" experience, chances are you'll pay a premium for this convenience and craftsmanship. We've found a nice alternative to lie somewhere in between those extremes, at local shops that specialize in collision work but are willing to take on the occasional restoration project.
Located as we are in central Florida, we often trust our restoration work to JD's Paint and Body Shop, in the town of Mulberry. Owner John Dempsey has been operating an automotive paint shop for many years, remembers these cars when they were daily drivers, and has repaired and restored numerous Corvettes in his career. Since collision and insurance work can be unpredictable, JD also likes to take in restoration jobs to keep his employees busy during the lulls. Though it can be frustrating to watch your car sit idle while the body shop repairs newer cars for insurance claims, there are several advantages to this approach provided you have a little time to wait.