The Corvette came to her in pieces.
The white, 1975 Stingray was in serious disrepair when 34-year-old Misty Davis inherited her father’s project.
But with the help of some local Corvette enthusiasts, Davis hopes the car will be road-ready before the end of summer.
Carolina Classic Corvettes, an organization of nearly 30 members from across the Carolinas, has adopted the car left to Davis after her father, Claude Mathis Jr., died unexpectedly Aug. 22 at age 61.
Davis, who said she had always helped tinker with her dad’s projects growing up in Newton, took to an online Corvette forum hoping to get some repair advice.
“I didn’t want to get rid of it because it was my dad’s baby. … I really wasn’t expecting anything” from the online posts, Davis said, adding she’s been floored by the club’s support.
Davis and her two children live in a Concord town home community and Davis is working to get her associate degree in criminal justice. With no place to store the vehicle, Davis said, she put a car cover over it as it sat in front of her condo, but it was far from weatherproof.
Davis began taking the car apart further, taking pictures and posting them to the forum with questions.
Carolina Classic Corvette members saw her online posts almost immediately and reached out to help, said club president Richard Thomas.
Members voted to take it on as a project and went to pick up the car. It’s currently being stored at VettePros on Sam Wilson Road in west Charlotte.
VettePros Owner Gary McQueen is a club member who volunteered his business to store the car, “since that’s what we do for a living,” he said. “We’re trying to do everything at cost, and some of the guys are donating parts for me to sell to raise money.”
So far, the club has replaced the back end, removed the interior and steam-cleaned the upholstery, with Davis helping where she’s able.
Thomas said they still need to do some body work on the front; find new tires; repaint the body, reinstall the interior and make a few mechanical fixes.
But just like any other car repair project, it all comes down to money, Thomas said. He estimated the project will take $5,000 to complete, given that club members are doing volunteer labor.
McQueen said there are more club member volunteers than there are tasks to perform on the car. McQueen said only one to two people can work on the car at a time without getting in each other’s way.
Thomas said not only has the club embraced the project, but it’s also drawn in new members and those interested in helping. “We had a guy who volunteered before he’d even come to a meeting,” he said. On the thread Davis started on the online forum, Thomas said there are more than 11,000 views nationwide.
Peter Getz, 74, is a Mount Holly resident, club member and 13-year Corvette owner. He said his favorite part of working on the project has been seeing it progress from a bare-bones skeleton, “just seeing it come together from a rust bucket to actually looking like a car.”
Club vice president Steve Madurski, 53, of Hickory, has donated parts and labor to the project and said he’s currently trying to figure out the history of the car.
“We might know the previous owner. There are not too many white ’vettes with blue interior around,” he said.
He said the biggest obstacle to finishing the project will be raising the funds for the paint, which he said will likely cost about $2,300. But more than anything, he said, the project gives them a chance to help others while doing what they enjoy.
Madurski said he’s looking forward to seeing the look on Davis’ 14-year-old son’s face. Noah, who is blind, said he loves the styling of old cars, especially the sound of the engine and motors.
“I can’t resist that loud rumble,” he said.
But the refurbishment project is something her father would have loved to be part of if he were still alive, Davis said, adding that he loved helping others.
Once the car is finished, Davis said she’ll likely only drive it once or twice a week. As a two-seater, it’s not practical for family transport. But first, she and Noah will likely cruise around awhile, with a stop for ice cream, per his request.
“I’m just so appreciative of all the hard work the guys have done,” she said. “They didn’t even have to do that. The car isn’t worth anything. There’s nothing’s special about that year, it’s not worth fixing it up.
“I’m not trying to sell it or get anything out of it. I just want it put together to have that memory … to have that piece of my father I can keep forever.”
Trenda: 704-358-5089 Twitter: @htrenda
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