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American Car BrandsCorvette is an indispensable part of Troy's family history

Corvette is an indispensable part of Troy’s family history

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Joe Feko bought his 1961 Chevrolet Corvette a couple of years after it was produced. The car has been part of his family’s history ever since.

  Joe Feko's Corvette has been lovingly cared for and restored twice during the more than 50 years that he has owned it.

Joe Feko’s Corvette has been lovingly cared for and restored twice during the more than 50 years that he has owned it.

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In June of 1961, I spent a weekend at a cottage near Cedar Point on Ohio’s Lake Erie shore with a few of my buddies celebrating our high school graduation. I was mesmerized by the sight of a red Corvette traveling down the cottage road. Having been a Corvette fan for a while, I knew it was the new 1961 version because it was the first year of the cut back rather than rounded tail, a feature more or less retained by today’s Corvette. About 2 years later, I became the second owner of a red 1961 Corvette.

I drove the car throughout my college days and it began to play an important role in my life. First, it helped me attract the attention of the girl who would become my wife. Marie did not drive before we started dating and I used the car to teach her to drive, stick-shift and all. (To this day, she prefers to drive a manual transmission car.) She took her driver’s license exam in that car, we took our honeymoon trip in that car, and our firstborn son, Dan, nearly arrived in that car. I used a bit of its performance capability to get Marie to the hospital on time!

The Corvette was used on a daily basis until Marie became too pregnant with our second son Matthew to fit behind the wheel. Not being driven very much, it began to deteriorate. The paint peeled and the interior frayed. We were actually using the car to store old flowerpots. I decided to sell it, but Marie intervened, saying that it had to stay because it was part of the family. She also reminded me of what attracted her to me in the first place. So in 1975, after 140,000 miles of driving adventures, I undertook the project of restoring the vehicle.

The car has a 283 cubic inch dual quad engine, close ratio 4 speed transmission, and a 4:11 axle. In doing the restoration, I researched Corvette production records and history. Given the relatively low number of Corvettes produced, and considering the even smaller portion which were painted red and registered in Ohio, it is likely that the car I saw at graduation was the very same car I purchased.

Because we continued to drive and enjoy the car, it started aging again. In 2007, with the help of son Dan and grandsons Nick and Nate, we did another restoration to do the things that lack of money and availability of parts did not allow the first time. We’ve enjoyed having the car in several shows and special presentations.

We dedicated the second restoration to our younger son, Matthew. Matt was a 25-year-old commercial charter pilot and flight instructor who was killed by a drunk driver in 1998. His first love was flying aircraft. His second was driving our 1961 Corvette.

Joe Feko

Troy

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