Rides from the Readers: 1961 Chevrolet Corvette
Hagerty readers and Hagerty Drivers Club members share their cherished collector and enthusiast vehicles with us via our contact email, email@example.com. We’re showcasing some of our favorite stories among these submissions. To have your car featured, send complete photography and your story of ownership to the above email address.
Today’s featured car is a 1961 Chevrolet Corvette convertible. This year heralded a cosmetic makeover for America’s sports car: a grille dominated by horizontal slats, versus previous years’ wide-toothed affair; and, instead of the slightly finned, chrome-laden rear fascia of 1960, the Corvette landed a “ducktail” design that would carry over to the C2. This model year also inaugurated the now-familiar four-taillight signature. The engine lineup remained essentially the same from ’60 to ’61, though the fuelie cars received a 40-hp bump thanks to a high-lift cam.
This particular ’61 Corvette belongs to Joseph Feko, who became the car’s second owner in 1963, halfway through his college years. Little did he know the impact the car would have in his relationships; the Vette helped him attract the attention of the girl who would, one day, become his wife. Since Marie didn’t drive before the two started dating, Joseph helped her learn to row the gears on the stick-shift Vette.
“She took her driver’s license exam in that car, we took our honeymoon trip in that car, and our first born son, Dan, nearly arrived in that car,” Joseph writes. “I used a bit of its performance capability to get Marie to the hospital on time!”
The Fekos used the ’61 on a daily basis until Marie, pregnant with their second son, Matthew, reached the limit of the Corvette’s interior ergonomics. Even after he was born, the Corvette languished. The paint peeled. The interior frayed. At its lowest point, it became a storage facility for old flowerpots. Joseph decided to sell it, but Marie intervened—the car was part of the family. “She also reminded me of what attracted her to me in the first place,” writes Joseph. So in 1975 Joseph began the process of restoring the Corvette, which had at that point accumulated 140,000 miles.
After its first restoration, the Feko family continued to enjoy the 283-equipped, dual-quad Corvette. By 2007, it was due for a mechanical refresh and, with the help of their eldest son Dan and their two grandsons, Marie and Joseph completed another restoration.
“We dedicated the second restoration to our younger son, Matthew,” writes Joseph. “Matt was a 25-year-old commercial charter pilot and flight instructor who was killed by a drunk driver in 1998. His first love was flying aircraft. His second was driving our 1961 Corvette.”