I am honored to share with you a story about the 1962 Corvette Fuelie that was purchased new by my parents, sold in 1972, located after an extensive search, and repurchased in 1989.
The story involves growing up in a middle class Virginia family with a Mom that worked as a legal secretary and a Dad that worked as a machinist on F-14 Tomcats. After serving his 4 years in the Navy, my dad’s last carrier tour ended in Norfolk, Va. The Norfolk/ Portsmouth area became new home, because, as my Dad phrased it, " I had a wife, a 1 year old son and $20 in my pocket, so I guess we will settle here".
I was eight years old in 1962 when my parents purchased our Fawn Fuelie from a Southwestern Virginia dealer, where my father had worked as a teenager. The three of us piled into the Corvette and drove 500 miles back home to Portsmouth, Virginia. The '62 became our daily transportation. I still remember our first Sunday drive, meeting other Vettes on the road, and wondering why the drivers were waving at us. I soon realized that we were part of a special group of people and that "the wave" was a time honored tradition, that still exists today…..
The Fuelie was my Mom's daily driver and my transportation throughout elementary and Jr High School. Our morning commute was always special, with crossing guards, teachers and classmates often asking about our Corvette. The morning journey often included a stop for hot, Krispy Kreme donuts along the way.
As the years passed, many memories and special times later, my time for driving finally came…. The '62 was my "learn to drive" car. And on one special occasion, it was my date night car, replacing my daily driver, a ’59 Chevy pickup…. I did learn very quickly to respect our Fuelie..
My childhood was a little different than most. We literally built our own house, from clearing the lot/ blowing up stumps with dynamite, to digging/ pouring the foundation to driving every nail, laying every brick, to pouring our own built-up roof. And, along with many other projects, my father and I bought, repaired and sold many cars to help out with the family finances. Many Mustangs, Camaros, Firebirds, MG’s, Austin Healy’s and others came and went, however the '62 Fawn Fueilie was always at home, with its own place reserved in the driveway…. During the ten years that we owned our Fawn Fuelie, I heard "that will be yours one day son" many, many times….. The journey to "yours one day, son" would soon become a little more challenging…..
One late evening December 23rd, 1972, I was in a heated discussion with my Dad over a haircut. (Seems long hair was pretty important to a high school senior, and the absence of long hair was pretty important to my ex-Navy, Dad). It was around 6 pm and there was a knock on the door. My dad answered and I heard some miscellaneous talk, soon heard the Corvette engine start, heard it drive away and heard it return. My dad walked back in the house and said, "there is a gentleman here that would like to buy the Corvette for a fair price. Dad’s words will forever echo in my sole, “either speak now or forever hold your peace". Of course, during the middle of our haircut argument, both of us were too stubborn to communicate and share our true feelings. Within minutes, our Corvette drove away.
A few weeks later, while walking around a local shopping center, (no malls back then, only shopping centers), with my first girlfriend Theresa, I could hear a familiar sound coming…. the sound of the duntov cam, the solid lifters and the familiar hiss of the fuel injection…. I looked up and there was the new owner cruising around the shopping center, with the most beautiful,well endowed, blonde girl, I had ever seen in my life….. My eyes teared, and my heart was torn. “Seems he got the car and the girl”, I thought…
Moving the clock forward, I worked my way through college, to self-fund my education, graduated as an engineer and ended up travelling everywhere, but now call Atlanta my home. It was now Christmas, 1989, while visiting my parents, in Virginia, as I was about to leave, my Dad mentioned he had heard from a gentleman that had our old Corvette. In fact, he had sold him the original hubcaps for the car, that we had stored in the attic…. I asked if he had the new owners contact information? My Dad searched for almost two weeks and called me one night very excited….”Guess what I found?” My Dad had found the new owner’s name and phone number. Our old Fawn Fuelie was now owned by a gentleman by the name of Tony H. and he lived in a suburb outside of Washington D.C.
I called Tony but was disappointed to hear that he had financial troubles, had traded the Corvette in, at a local Chevrolet dealer for basic transportation, and that it was no longer there. I shared my story with Tony and he offered to help…He asked if I happened to have the V.I.N.?? And, of course I did, I had it memorized….It seems his wife worked with the DMV and possibly she could help me locate the new owner. After a few weeks, things begin to look up… Tony called and the new owner’s name was Lowell D., he lived in a suburb on the opposite side of D.C. However, after several months, of both Tony and I trying to reach Mr. D., I was very disappointed to call and hear a recording that his phone had been disconnected. I immediately called Tony, who was now a part of my mission, and asked, any ideas, what do we do now???? Well, it seems he had another option, which included a brother in law that was employed by the IRS that would maybe help us. I recall Tony saying" we have his name, we have his former address, we can find him"…. And, sure enough, we did find him, he had moved to Maryland…
I found Mr. D’s new phone number via directory assistance…I called, and much to my surprise, he answered… I recall saying, "hello, please do not hang up on me, I am looking for an old "62 Corvette that belonged to my parents". I described the car, told him a little about our Fawn Fuelie story. I heard the latch of a kitchen door release, and door hinges squeak, as he opened the door and said" I think I am looking at your ‘62"…… Mr. D further said, "you are pretty attached to this car, if you would like, come up, take a look at it and drive it. If you would like, you can buy her back, for what I paid for her, if you find me another one just as nice”. As fate would have it, our Fawn Fuelie cost me exactly 10X of what she was sold for in 1972. Some things about her were now different, some were the same. As I treasured my first drive, the sound of the second gear whine, the turn signal lever that rotated too far to the right, even the scratch on the rear bumper, they all reflected wonderful memories of many years back…..
With the title and keys in hand, my journey home included a trip across the beautiful Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, to my first stop, my parents home in Virginia. As I pulled into the driveway, my Mom and Dad greeted me and I handed the keys over to them. Their hair was now gray, the pine trees were now 20 feet tall rather than 3, I was now a middle age man and no longer an elementary school kid, but our Fawn Fuelie was home.
As the days passed, we enjoyed the time to its fullest, family, friends, food and old stories….While passing by the front door, I saw my Mom looking out of the window at the Corvette and she said," l never thought a car would mean so much, it's like having a member of the family home". I later caught my Dad peering out of the window, by his Lazy Boy recliner and he said, "It's good to see the Old Girl in the driveway again".
I have driven and enjoyed our fawn Fuelie, the "Old Girl, for many years, while I have saved for, and searched for the parts, to restore her…. My dad, my best friend, went home to be with the Lord in August of 2002. My Mom now lives in Bonita Springs, Florida and we still share and enjoy Corvette memories and stories. The "Old Girl" restoration was completed and she was judged in November of 2012, at the NCRS, winter regional meet in Florida and she received her NCRS Top Flight, with a score of 98.8.