The emotional connection between a man and his Corvette is hard for some people to understand.
Not for 23-year-old NASCAR driver Erik Jones.
When Jones was just starting his NASCAR career, he and his father Dave Jones bought a 1969 Corvette that was a real basket case in need of serious restoration. The two men took on the challenge, however, but had only completed a few projects on the car when Dave died of cancer in 2016.
Erik wasn’t ready to give up on his mission to save the classic C3 Corvette.
He loaded it up and brought the car to Jamie Hamm of Bonefied Customs, Inc., a repair and customization shop in Grand Rapids, Mich.
“Are you sure you want to do this?” Hamm asked Erik, remind him that the restoration would be a big and costly job. He could even buy a new car or two for the price of the restoration, but Erik was intent on saving a classic Corvette.
Finally, after two years of work on the car by Hamm and subcontractor Tom Thomas, Jones unveiled the car this week on Twitter, complete with before and after photos of the now stunning Corvette.
First photo is the day I brought this car home with my dad, I wanted a classic vette, this is where it started. Worked on it with my dad until he passed away, then sent it to a company in MI to finish the work. Sure love driving it these days. pic.twitter.com/hoWJTQsP6D— Erik Jones (@Erik_Jones) January 7, 2020
“It’s not by any means a $1 million Barrett-Jackson car, but as far as ’69 Corvettes, with that engine package and four-speed transmission, it’s probably the nicest one in the country,” Hamm said. “It is probably one of the finest examples of a ’69 Corvette that you could ask for. It has new or restored everything on the car.”
While Jones doesn’t plan to enter the Corvette in any shows, Hamm and Thomas treated it as if he was going to. “When you get me and Tom Thomas together on a project, it’s show cars or no cars,” Hamm said. “You can tell that by the cars that Tom races at Berlin Raceway and the cars that come out of here. Everything is 100 percent.”
You might say the same thing about the young Jones’ NASCAR career. Getting ready to enter his fourth season in the upcoming Feb. 16 Daytona 500, Jones is coming off his second career Cup race victory for Joe Gibbs Racing in last September’s Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway. In July 2018, Jones won his first race at Daytona.
It’s not surprising that the Jones family is involved in the restoration of this 1969 Corvette. After all, Erik’s family owned Paragon Corvette Restoration Parts before his mother sold the business after Dave’s death. “He had been squirreling away a bunch of parts to do it with, so we went from there,” Hamm said. “The intent was for them to work on it together.” That didn’t work out, but the end result is still a Corvette that Dave would definitely be proud of, though not without a lot of hard work.
“When it got here in that trailer full of parts, it really filled up a big area in our shop,” Hamm said. “I’m like, ‘What have we done here?’ But we buckled down. We sandblasted and powder coated. As far as the body work, the fiberglass was all broken. A lot of the steel that is underneath the fiberglass was rusted. But we went to work on it, and the end product is really nice.”
Nice enough, no doubt, to provide an intense emotional connection between a man and his Corvette.
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