When organizers of this year’s Charlotte AutoFair began putting together a tribute for the 60th anniversary of the Chevrolet Corvette – one of the two or three best-known classic American sports cars – they knew one owner they needed to call.Concord native Jimmy Morrison, a local expert on Corvettes who owns several vintage models, has owned many Corvettes. But his 1956 model is special, because it was his first, he said.He was 18 years old, working as a paint-and-body man at Troutman’s Motors back in 1967, making $2 an hour when he bought the 1956 Corvette. He paid $800 to become the ninth owner of the car and enjoyed driving it around Concord.Unfortunately, he ran off the road and wrecked the car shortly before being drafted into the Army to serve in Vietnam. He stored the wrecked vehicle before serving his tour of duty, from September 1969 to September 1970. While he was in the service, his brother Gary Morrison bought a 1960 Corvette that needed work.When Jimmy returned home in 1970, his father, J.P. Morrison, helped him and Gary set up Morrison Motor Co. in a building beside Jimmy’s house on Swink Street. The brothers restored the 1960 Corvette and sold it while Jimmy’s Corvette waited. “The ‘56 had to wait as we worked on other cars to make money,” Jimmy Morrison said. He would work on it off and on, when he had time, he said.“It cost me $400 to fix a $800 car,” he said. They finished restoring the 1956 model in 1971.In 1973 the business moved behind a house on Old Charlotte Road, on the same side of the street as the big lot they moved to in 1984, where they sell cars today. The brothers stopped restoring cars in the 1980s, but they continue to trade and sell both new and used cars at 1170 Old Charlotte Road. As the business has grown, they have tried to keep 50 to 60 Corvettes in their inventory of more than 200 cars. Jimmy – born in 1949, four years before the first Corvette was produced in 1953 – explained his fondness for Corvettes.“You have to understand,” he said. “I have grown up with these Corvettes. They have been a part of my life since I was young.” Over the years Jimmy has listed the 1956 car for sale only twice. The first time was in 1978, and he actually sold it. But the buyer brought it back four hours later to trade for another car. The second time, he listed it along with another Corvette. When the other Corvette sold, his wife, Linda, told him he should keep his 1956 car. They now call it her car, because she was the one who persuaded him to keep it.In 2010, Jimmy’s brother Gary and son-in-law Greg Hartman restored the 1956 Corvette to showroom shape, including the famous “Venetian Red” paint job, as a birthday present for Jimmy. The car is now appraised at $80,000, but Jimmy said he won’t sell it at any price.He is willing, however, to part with his 1957 fuel-injected model for the asking price of $109,000. Or he’ll sell the 1978 Corvette Pace Car for a good offer. Both will be shown, along with his 1956 Corvette, in the Showcase Pavilion at the AutoFair. Even if you don’t have the money to offer for one of his cars, you can relive memories of the period or just wonder at the beauty of the craftsmanship that has endured for 60 years, known as the Chevrolet Corvette.
Thursday, Sep. 19, 2013
’56 Corvette not for sale at Charlotte AutoFair, but owner has more that are
Want to go? The Charlotte Auto Fair will be open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 22 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway on U.S. 29 in Concord. For more information visit www.charlotte-autofair.com.
Marty Price is a freelance writer/photographer for the Cabarrus News. Have a story idea for Marty? Contact him at 704-589-7011 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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