Before they were married, Cindy Lonergan well remembers the first time her husband, Tom, picked her up for a date in his Corvette.
She was looking for the usual old, beat-up car drove back and forth to Dana, she said. Instead, he arrived in a 1967 black Corvette two-door coupe with flames painted on the sides. That was in February 1973. The couple married in 1978, and since then both Cindy and the coupe have been with Lonergan.
The car was his second Corvette. Lonergan said he bought his first in 1967 after he got back from Vietnam. In 1973 he traded it for the coupe. The couple has had a lot of fun with the car over the years. They belong to the Corvette Club and participate in road rallies, car shows, and cruise-ins. At one time Lonergan used it for auto cross drag racing with the Corvette Club.
He modified the body at that time to accommodate larger wheels. While the couple was raising their family the car went unused for a long time, 20-25 years.
“I had it all painted but things came along,” Lonergan said.
But four years ago he decided to restore the car to its former glory, right down to repairing the body where he had cut away pieces to fit the wheels. The car was all torn apart when his daughters were in high school so neither their kids nor Cindy have really driven the car.
“I'm afraid to drive it,” Cindy Lonergan said.
She said it's actually because she doesn't feel comfortable driving a car with a clutch. Tom's daughters had tried to get him to finish it up so their boyfriends could drive it to prom. That's something that never would have happened even if the car had been restored, Lonergan said with a laugh.
Starting four year ago he and a friend in the Corvette Club worked on the restoration together. They had moved twice in the 20 years since he had first started the work, so it took three trips from his house to his friend's where they did the work to get all the parts together for the car's restoration. Although he still had all the parts he just had to do a little hunting to find them. Parts can still be found for the car but they're expensive. A bumper that cost him $100 a few years ago now costs $400. Just getting the bumpers re-chromed was $1,100.
When he first owned the car, which was painted dark green during its restoration, “It saw snow up to the grille.” Now, he drives it only on nice days. It came home in January from North Webster where he and his friend worked on the restoration. When he first purchased the car it cost $4,700. It was last appraised at $60,000.