Grand County car buffs get ready to roll out classic Detroit hardware in Granby show
August 2, 2009
With all the somber news about auto-industry bankruptcies and bailouts, capturing a glimpse into the automobile’s sunny and nostalgic past is valued more than ever.Sure the hydrogen-hybrid wonders of the future are on the horizon, but what about the luxurious long lines of the ’30s, the flirtatious curves of the ’50s, or the sleek speedsters of the ’60s?To David Jamison, organizer of the 5th Annual Middle Park Wild West Classic Car, Truck and Motorcycle Show, car shows have “exploded” in recent years, perhaps in celebration of the industry’s glory days. “People are bringing cars out because of the fact that the car industries are trying to change cars by getting higher gas mileage, which is fine. But the reason these car shows may be gaining more popularity is people trying to retain some of the American history and our culture. It’s why people are getting more involved,” he said.Corvette collectors and restorers Chuck and Nancy Banks of Winter Park call their own interest in classic cars a hobby. For Chuck, it started with a rare British car, a 1949 Austin Atlantic Convertible, when he was just 15. A gift from his dad, the car didn’t run and needed paint. The project started a life-long passion that translated into a fleet of award-winning vintage Corvettes.One the Banks plan to feature at the Granby car show (if it doesn’t rain) in the Mountain Parks Electric parking lot is a white 1960 Corvette that has spent its life in the Rocky Mountains, originally owned by a ski instructor at Snowbasin who moved to Winter Park shortly after buying the car.The skier, the late Jim Nelson, bought the car for $5,120 brand new, sported it with a ski rack and drove around with Samoyed Sammy sitting shotgun. By 1973, 94,000 miles later, Nelson retired the Corvette to his garage and covered it in blankets. Then part-time Winter Park homeowners, the Banks purchased the car from Nelson in 1989 and proceeded to restore it. They aimed to restore the Corvette’s condition to when the car originally came off the assembly line, with Chuck accomplishing the majority of the work. After two years, he succeeded. The Corvette, with a cherry-red interior and not a single chip on its winter-white exterior, has since been granted the prestigious Duntov Award, a Mark of Excellence for being judged better than 98 percent of the condition the car was originally. In 1992, the car made the cover of “The Corvette Restorer Magazine.”The Corvette has a fuel-injected high performance engine that makes it extremely rare, Chuck said. It’s one of just 100 Corvettes that were manufactured like it. Since 1989, only 2,500 miles have been added on.”I like to show it because there are always people at shows that appreciate restored cars,” Chuck said.As many as 25 cars have been registered for this year’s fifth annual show in Granby, but organizers expect at least 50, according to Jamison, whose 1969 Plymouth Road Runner will be on display. Each year, the show raises money for a Grand County nonprofit, with the Grand County Center for Excellence as this year’s recipient. The show is free to the public, with a live band, food and a 12:30 magic show. “Even in a very weak economy, the local businesses provide the sponsorship money to provide the show,” Jamison said. “Without their support, we wouldn’t be able to do it.”- Tonya Bina can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19603 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.