October '73: Arab Members of OPEC Declared Oil Embargo Against the U.S.
in response to U.S. supplying Israeli military during the Yom Kippur war.
The market price for a barrel of oil immediately increased by 400%.
February 1974, 20% of American gasoline stations had no fuel.
In 1974 the 24 Hours of Sebring and Daytona auto races were canceled.
March 1974 Arab oil ministers announced the end of the embargo.
The Vintage Corvette Collector Market Is Born
Remember When ....
By 1973 some of us were remembering the efficiency of the older
fuely Corvettes. They delivered 375 horse power and fuel economy, 18 mpg.
All The Ingredients Were In Place
Soon after the oil embargo started premium performance and large cars were dumped like they had a plague for 1/4 their value. This opened the door for people that wanted a sports car to enjoy as a hobby inexpensively. Corvettes made sense, being Chevy powered & easy to maintain.
Birds Of A Feather ......
This was an unconventional group. While bragging rights of the day
spoke of miles per gallon and least expensive import cars among the
conventional folk, the unconventional sports car hobby enthusiasts were
National Corvette Shows, Swap Meets, & Publications Emerged
In 1972 Jim Prather started Vette Vues Magazine, a monthly pub-
lication covering all year Corvettes, cars & parts classified ads, show &
swap meet events, how to articles, GM repair directives, etc.
In June '73 the first Bloomington Corvette Corral was held in Bloom-
ington, IL, a one day event for show competition, & parts swap meet. In
'74 it grew to a two day event. After '77 Bloomington became a three day
event. Local clubs around the country started up & followed the trend.
In '74 Chip Miller held the first Carlisle Post War classic car swap meet
event with a Corvette coral section which became its own event, Corvettes
of Carlisle, in 1982.
In ‘74 the National Corvette Restorers Society or NCRS was founded.
In 1973 we began buying products advertized in Vette Vues for our
Corvette customers. It went so well we bought extra and sold it at swap
meets. Also in '73 we bought out a Corvette junk yard which had late
model, low mileage wrecks ranging from 1956-1967. These cars still had
many very rare parts in great shape.
Our First Frame Up Restoration
In 1974 we did our first frame up restoration of Bill Cuddigan’s 1953.
Prior to this a Corvette restoration consisted of a paint job & body
repair. The cars’ value didn’t justify the full resto & most people didn’t
have the very expensive collision insurance. Bill didn’t care about the
cost. While we did the ‘53 he had another shop do his ‘54. We gave the
‘53 all we could. It had new exact copy interior from All-True, paper labels, decals, owner manual, clock instructions from Murrell Dobins,& RM paint made by us using original factory formulas. It was the only car at the show restored to that level & it was a Corvette. The ‘53 won Best Of Show & 1st In Class, the ‘54 got 2nd In Class, all in an arena with 120 competitors.
Early Corvette Swap Meets, Middlebury CT & Others, '74 & Beyond
The most wanted new items were Corvette interiors. Prior to this time
upholstery shops stitched facsimile of originals. We now offered exact
replication of originals. We also brought a few rare used parts, new decals
& labels from Murill Dobbins who advertized in Vette Vues, new shop &
owner manuals, Vette Vues Magazines, Corvette t-shirts, etc. Daughter
Tanya sold the VV Magazines at age 6.
We weren't unique. The same scenario occurred around the country.
Swap meet venders developed a following from their customers.
Vendors contacted other vendors to fulfill their customers' needs. Those
old inexpensive Corvettes were getting fixed up. Corvette shows attracted
new people to the hobby. The emerging support system, vendor/dealer
network, publications, clubs, & shows perpetuated further demand for the
classic Corvettes. This increased the cars' value. Many cars bought and
fixed up during the gas crisis were sold, reaping substantial profits for their
owners. For some it was a great part time and profitable hobby. For others
it became a career. The classic Corvette thing had taken on a life of its own.
Old Corvettes became investment cars. The hobby had become an industry.
Corvette Restoration - Our Shop
From September ‘76 to April ‘78 we did monthly frame up restoration
articles for Vette Vues Magazine, named Project 56. For the next 7 or 8
years our shop had at least 1 frame up going. Since most of our customers
were wrenchers, they’d bring us the car and wait while we separated the
body from frame, then take the rolling frame home and restore it and its
components, suspension, engine, etc while we did the body, and upholstery.
Driving one of these cars after a recent full restoration never gets old.
Corvette Reproduction Parts
In '76 we began producing stamped steel parts, our first was the '61-'62
Grill Bar finished in triple show chrome. It was an instant success. Next we
did '58-'62 Front Licence Bumperettes. These were a deep draw stamping
and required a large investment in tooling to produce the parts and pro-
duction quantities had to be 300-400. Given the fact that we were part of
the group that removed these from the front of cars during the '60s as a
mild customizing effort we figured that there was a market for them, there
was and it was an instant success. We named them Bumperettes, Gm called
them guards, our named stuck to this day. We could have bought 2 used
Corvettes for what that tooling cost was. We sold nearly 5000 over the years.
We continued making other similar parts, always triple show chrome plated.
In all we made about 30 different parts over several decades.
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