Jim and his wife made the journey from Idaho to the Valley of the Sun to be closer to their daughter and her husband, all while taking advantage of the excellent Cancer Treatment Center located in Goodyear.
Jim’s fascination with Corvettes has been a lifelong affair, with a remarkable collection of 22 of these iconic cars to his name. His journey with Corvettes began in 1964 when he acquired his first one, a 1964 Coupe. Interestingly, he stumbled upon this gem when a neighbor living next to his parents in Alhambra, California, mentioned she wanted to sell her Corvette because it was broken and wouldn’t budge. Jim’s father relayed this message, prompting Jim to take action. Without hesitation, he sent a $500 check and flew to California. Together with his father, they installed a new clutch, and Jim drove his newly acquired Corvette, which had only 29,000 miles on the odometer, back home to Idaho. This marked the start of Jim’s enduring relationship with Corvettes, ranging from pristine “trailer queens” to high-performance Corvette race cars.
In the 1980s, Jim joined the National Corvette Restoration Society (NCRS) and delved into the world of Corvette restorations. His expertise grew over the years, particularly in the realm of C-3 Corvettes, spanning from 1963 to 1967. His dedication led to him becoming a National Judge for the NCRS, a prestigious role that involved meticulously scrutinizing Corvettes for originality. Every component of these cars, from the engine to the glass, headlights, and windows, had identifying numbers. During judging, any non-original part incurred deductions in the overall score.
In 1989, Jim acquired a ’64 Corvette from someone who had embarked on a restoration project but had lost interest along the way. This Corvette was truly special, featuring the rarest motor in ’64 – a Fuel Injected 327/375hp V8 (less than 6% of the total production), a close-ratio 4-speed transmission, and a rare 4:56 ratio rear end. Its exterior was a distinctive Daytona Blue with a White Interior. Jim paid a mere $10,000 for this automotive treasure.
Upon completing the restoration, Jim proudly presented the Corvette at a National Show hosted by the NCRS, where it achieved the prestigious “Top Flight” award, the highest honor within the NCRS. An enduring memory from this event is a photograph of Jim alongside the legendary Zora Arkus-Duntov, often hailed as the visionary behind the Corvette. Interestingly, the contemporary C8 Corvette proudly features a Zora nameplate. During their encounter, an amusing mishap occurred when Zora unintentionally sat on a patch of pine tar, leaving a stain on his jeans. Regrettably, when he leaned against Jim’s pristine Corvette, some of that tar transferred onto the car’s surface. To preserve the moment, Jim chose not to remove the stain, and the subsequent owner, who acquired the Corvette three years later, honored this decision.
Jim’s passion for Corvettes extended beyond mere restoration; he also honed his driving skills through a three-day course at the Ron Fellows Corvette Driving School. This comprehensive program covered various driving conditions, starting with students following an instructor who provided real-time radio instructions. Afterward, the roles reversed, with the instructor following the student and offering guidance on their driving techniques. The intensity increased as the students demonstrated their ability to handle the cars, with some reaching speeds of over 180 mph. Notably, all the cars used at the school were brand new, courtesy of Chevrolet.
Jim’s automotive history includes his involvement with Plymouths. Among them was a 1964 model equipped with a factory stock 426 cubic inch Max Wedge engine. Jim raced this car at Northwest drag strips during the summers of 1965 and 1966, achieving impressive quarter-mile times of 11.50 seconds at a top speed of 121 mph.
Additionally, he owned a 1963 Plymouth that served as a bracket race car for several years. This particular vehicle featured a 413 cubic inch engine that had been bored out to 426 cubic inches. Jim fondly remembers it as the most enjoyable race car he ever had the pleasure of owning.
The following are several more vehicles Jim has owned:
’01 Corvette Z06 – Jim Purchased this yellow Z06 from an individual in Dallas Texas. Jim and his flew to Dallas and drove it to Idaho. It had just 12k miles. The car averaged 30 mpg on the trip.
’61 Corvette Coupe – This was one of Jim’s first restorations. He bought it for $2500.00 and sold it after completion for $45k. I invested 20k in parts and materials on the car.
’57 Chevrolet – This was one of six produced in 1957 and was powered by a Fuel Injected 283 cu in engine with a three-speed transmission that had shifter linkage on the steering column. It is impossible to estimate the car’s value due to its low production number.