Anyone who has restored his father’s old car can understand exactly where Tony Meehan is coming from.
As he stands in front of his dad’s 1958 Corvette that he bought new, Tony tells a poignant story about a car that is obviously more than just a car.
“I grew up around race cars,” he says. “As little as I can remember, I was at the shop around my father’s feet. I would cry to go to work with him just so I could be around race cars.”
Work for his dad, you see, was building race cars, drag racers.
“This is one of the cars he bought new, in 1958,” Tony says.
He drove it on the street a couple of years, “did a little street racing, which was illegal,” Tony admits, “but back in the ’50s and early ’60s, there was big money in it. Fixing other people’s cars – you go out there and beat them, and then they want to come and beat you so they got to spend more money to beat you.”
In the early ’60s, the car was changed over to NHRA drag racing to compete in the gas classes with a blower on it.
Eventually, though, the car was sold as his father’s interests changed to other types of big-block Chevys, but it wasn’t gone forever.
In the early ’80s, his dad bought the car back, “put it in the garage, couldn’t quite figure out what to do with it at that time, but then he decided he wanted to go back to the way it was so he could have his memories of the ’50s.”
Tony and his father restored the whole interior “back to the way it would have been in 1958 – really there is nothing modified in here other than a couple of extra gauges.”
Tony says it’s a “really cool car to drive. Running down the street, you stop at a traffic light, people have to take a double take when they hear it coming and they look at you and ask, ‘What is that?’ You get thumbs up from everybody you drive by.”
When the car was new, it was a fuelie, but Tony says his dad changed it over to carburetors, and then to a blower setup.
“This is not exactly the same blower we had back in the ’60s,” Tony says. “At that time, they had mechanical fuel injection which is kind of hard to drive on the street. Right now, we kinda drive the car on the street a little bit here and there. Basically we went to a couple of Holley carburetors to make it a little more drivable on the street.”
It took them about five years to complete the restoration, with his dad unfortunately passing away before it was finished.
“This is one of those cars that’s gonna be a tribute to my dad,” Tony says. “I’ll never sell it. People have asked me how much I want for it – it’s not for sale. It’ll be handed down to my son, and hopefully my son will be able to keep it and give it to his son. It’ll be one of those things that stay in the family to keep the memory of my dad alive.”
Tony admits that purists would probably not be happy to see a 1958 Corvette restored this way. “But he figured it was earlier a race car and he wanted it to the way HE had it back in the early ’60s,” Tony says, “and there it is!” You can see the car and interview for yourself at Hemmings TV, a new video series on the Web, and with Father’s Day just a few days away, what a great way for them to begin!