2023 Members in the Spotlight

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1st Quarter

Bryan Parker

I have always been interested in the history of the automobile and sports cars since I can remember. I was introduced to the Corvette in kindergarten when my dad happened to find a miniature Corvette body for sale. I have memories of it being stored in my bedroom under my model train table until we moved into a house that had a garage! It took a few years, but I finally found a chassis kit in Mechanics Illustrated to order along with a used motor to go in it. After numerous nights and weekends working out in the garage, we finally had it assembled and running! And yes, it is still in our garage awaiting restoration!

Fortunately, this “Car Guy” has an incredibly supportive family who are also involved with the NCRS. We joined the North Central Chapter in 2013 after attending a chapter judging event. We were warmly welcomed, and shortly thereafter signed up to be members. My wife DeAnn tolerates my Corvette addiction and has helped with tabulating at some of the chapter events. Our son Mathew has also caught the Classic Car & Corvette bug (not that he had a choice!?!) and is also a member of the North Central Chapter. I am also a Frank Lloyd Wright fan and have been known to take detours during vacation to drive by or visit homes/buildings he designed (thanks again to my family for obliging!)

I’ve been lucky to have owned several Corvettes over the years. Like many, it started later in life once the important family obligations were met. It all began in 2010 with the purchase of a low mileage, fully optioned, 1979 L82 Shark from the original owner after it sat for around 10 years. Once home, we noticed that the ride was somewhat harsh making me wonder if it had the Gymkhana sport suspension option. We drove it several hundred miles before determining it had the standard suspension. At one of the Corvette club events, I had the car judged in the “Show & Shine” category. One of the judges happened to know about C3’s and shared that he thought the original tires were still on the car. I immediately went home and checked the DOT date codes on the tires and sure enough, they were indeed original tires dated January & February of ’79 and rock hard!

In 2013, I was shopping online (I’m always looking!) when a C4 Corvette, at a great price, caught our eye. A ‘94, black-on-black, 6-speed manual coupe with 85,000 miles, that appeared to be unmolested – what’s not to like! After a son & dad test drive, we were sold. It was a mechanically sound car with an interior that was showing its wear & tear. We spent that summer updating the interior and enjoying its great handling and performance before selling it.

When the 50th Anniversary Corvette came out, I just loved the color combination and dreamed of owning one someday. Previously owning coupes, I was looking for a decent C5 convertible that was comfortable and fun for my wife and I to drive and take on road trips. We happened to find a reasonably priced 50th Convertible in good condition and before we knew it, it was in our garage! After replacing the leaking shocks and tires, we’ve enjoyed several trips between MN and MI. We also took part in the 2019 Corvette Caravan to the NCM from Michigan and enjoyed a road trip through OH, NY and PA last summer. The car is still in the family and now belongs to our son.

My current project is a 1967 327/350hp 4-speed roadster I purchased from the 2nd owner last summer. It needs a lot of TLC to bring it back to NCRS standards but I was looking for something to enjoy driving and working on having recently retired. My wife insisted on it being a convertible and I was sold on it having the 350hp 327 with a 4-speed manual. It also has the removable hardtop which is an added bonus! I’m currently working on the engine compartment and interior – cleaning & restoring existing parts and replacing missing & incorrect parts. The hope is to then have the body repainted in the original silver pearl color.

Besides my Corvette addiction, I enjoy other classic cars & trucks. Growing up with a dad who worked at GM, I am more acquainted with and partial to GM products. Some of which include Camaros, Firebirds, El Camino’s, Chevy II’s/Nova’s, Impalas, GTO’s, Riviera’s, etc., etc. My first car was a ’60 Belair 2 door sedan with the Blue Flame Six I inherited from my grandmother. I envisioned installing the 3-side draft carburetor set up found in the 53-54 Corvettes. But the car was rear ended by a drunk driver before I could implement my vision!

What else is in our garage? As you can probably guess, one spot is always reserved for the wife’s daily driver. Currently, I also have a spot for my daily driver (subject to change!?!). We are lucky to also own a low mileage, unrestored 1964 Impala 2-Door Hardtop. Using what I’ve learned in the NCRS, I am slowly in the process of documenting part numbers and date codes to eventually share with other Impala owners in the National Impala Association. I appreciate being a member of the North Central Chapter and look forward to improving and enjoying our club!

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2nd Quarter

James Hess

Jim and his wife Nikki live in Bemidji, MN and have been married since 1984. They have two daughters, Jackie, and Jayne Ann. When they were first married and living in Colorado, Jim and Nikki bought a 68 Corvette 427/390 big block and enjoyed many road trips into the mountains to enjoy the scenery and majestic views. They eventually traded the 68 in for a 1960 roadster that they still own and enjoy today. Throughout their life they have enjoyed theater, Broadway shows and other cultural events – not to mention car shows!

Jim is retired having previously served as the Bemidji Superintendent of Schools. While superintendent, he helped organize the Bemidji Career Academies program (with vocational skills focus) for high school students. It offers these young adults access to programs like mechatronics (intro to manufacturing), construction trades, culinary arts, arts & design, and much, much more. He has also been President of a Colorado Corvette Club in the past.

He is a recent member of the North Central Chapter having joined in 2022 and is interested in judging schools and events, particularly those that are related to C1 vintage Corvettes. Jim’s Corvette ownership began when he was 25. He bought his first Corvette – a brand new 76 T-top in fire-thorn red with a red interior after saving enough to afford the insurance! He has owned many Corvettes since then.

There are currently five Corvettes in Jim’s collection. We’re not saying that he has a preference, but the majority of them are from a certain vintage! Included in his collection are a 54, 56, 59, 60 and 78 Pace Car. The first C1 he owned was a 59 that had previously been a drag car. He spent many hours rebuilding it with the help of friends and the local Chevy dealer. It was then driven and enjoyed before being traded in on a 63 split window coup. And we don’t ask Jim about what happened to the split window – let’s just say it was the one that got away!

Jim enjoys all his Corvettes but does have his favorites. At the top of his list are the polo white 1954 with red interior and the black 1960 roadster with silver coves and red interior. Each year, he rotates which cars he takes to shows so the same ones aren’t shown at the same car shows every year.

But wait, there’s more! That’s not all that is in Jim’s garage. He also owns a meticulously restored 1957 Belair convertible in matador red with a red interior and continental kit. It’s a guess but, red might be one of Jim’s favorite colors!?!

Jim is also involved with the annual Bemidji Corvettes show and welcomes everyone to this year’s Corvette Show and Shine on Saturday, July 15th in Bemidji. 63 Corvettes attended last year’s show with hopes of surpassing that number this year. The show is coordinated with the Watermark Art Center’s Art in the Park event so there is a lot to enjoy that day in Bemidji.

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3rd Quarter

Greg Heller

Greg is a recent member of the North Central Chapter having joined a couple of years ago. He joined so he could learn more about his 1958 Corvette. He is particularly interested in tech sessions that focus on C1-related installations and/or repairs and has enjoyed attending some of the sessions.

Greg and his wife Vicki live in Ham Lake, MN. They have several sons and daughters and enjoy their many grandchildren who they tend to spoil on occasion!

Greg’s interest in cars started when he was in Junior High School and has always favored Chevrolets and GM products. Partial to convertibles, one of his first cars was a 56 Chevy convertible. But he had to sell it when he went into the service. Greg served in the Army during the Vietnam War from 1966-1968 and was stationed in Germany. Remember Greg’s love of convertibles? After returning home from the service, Greg bought several Chevy convertibles including a 55, 56, 57 and 58! They all needed work, but Greg was fortunate to have room on his property to store them. But his priorities changed once he got married and all 4 were sold. With his knowledge and interest in the Tri-Five era cars, Greg is a past member and former VP of Chevy’s Best Club here in Minnesota specializing in 55, 56, & 57 Chevy’s. Now retired, Greg spent his career working for Onan (now Cummins) in Fridley, MN for 41 years. When the Chevy Citation was introduced in 1980, Greg became interested in learning about the new front wheel drive cars. With his mechanical abilities, he enjoyed working on them and saw an opportunity. As a result, he started his own business and named it “Citation Station” where he specialized on front wheel drive cars of that era.

Greg’s Corvette ownership began back in 1976. He bought a brand new 76 T-top Stingray and enjoyed it for several years until marriage and family obligations took precedence. In 1981/1982, he began searching for something new to work on and enjoy. He began going to car shows and swap meets and bid on several Corvettes to no avail. His initial bid on the 58 was also initially rejected but he was later contacted by the owner to buy it. After negotiating some of the details, an agreement was made for Greg 1976 Corvette to go pick it up and drive it home.

However, Greg didn’t have anyone to drive him there to pick it up! So, thinking on his feet, he asked a co-worker to drive him if he paid his wages for a day (including meals, etc.). But that’s not the end of the story! After picking it up, it rained for a good portion of the way. And much to his chagrin, it made for an interesting drive home! His 1958 Corvette has the Signet Red with white cove exterior color combination with a Charcoal interior. It also has an auxiliary hardtop but came with no soft top. It’s powered by a non-original 283 cubic inch V8 and 4 speed manual transmission.

Greg has been meticulously working on its restoration over the years. After he bought it and with assistance from Friendly Chevrolet, he bought as much NOS chrome as he could find (that was still available at that time). This came in handy since the previous owner had hit a deer damaging some fiberglass and original trim. He has been going through each system as the work progresses. He had the bumpers rechromed, replaced the exhaust system and recoated the frame to keep it rust free. The seats have been reupholstered and he recently had new carpeting installed. He also just had the engine and transmission pulled, rebuilt, and reinstalled.

It was completed so recently that, when asked, he replied that he’s driven it “one tank of gas” so far! It is nice to know that Greg’s love of convertibles continues with this fine example of a 58 Roadster he has restored and has back on the road! And it’s a “Red” one at that!

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4th Quarter

Jeffrey Tiber

My addiction to cars probably started when I was around eight or nine years old, and I would ride up to see my godfather race the vintage circuit up at Brainerd International Raceway. It was a weekend spent camping on turn one. Watching those cars flying by at full speed was exhilarating and such an experience knowing that Paul Newman was on the track. Newman was always the one everyone hoped to beat, but probably had little chance. We would drive up on a Friday night in our 1966 black Corvette carrying a cooler and a small tent. Looking now at those C2 Corvettes, I wonder how in the world we could’ve planned a weekend with that thing.

Moving ahead a little in time, I saved up enough money from my jobs as a 12-year-old caddy at Rolling Green County Club in Medina to a 14-year-old cook at the Pannekoeken Huis in Brooklyn Park. My first car at 14 was a 57 Chevy that I would spend every waking moment and every penny making it drivable for my high school years. I have to say looking back to the early 80’s, I probably had one of the coolest cars in high school!

Over the next 40 years, my addiction would play out to rotate in and out of my life a 62 Impala SS, 69 El Camino, 69 Chevelle, 55 Chevy, 85 Buick Grand National, 79 Mustang Indy Pace Car, 80 Corvette, 07 Shelby GT500, 11 Shelby
GT350, 66 Mustang GT350 Tribute and now a 65 Corvette.

There were also plenty of family cars, trucks and SUVs not mentioned here (as we all have to grow up at some point) but some of the above I still own, thankfully.

As you can see, I became a Shelby fan somewhere there in the middle. Probably as a result of going up to Brainerd to watch my Godfather race. Besides car number 33 that Paul Newman would race in his Nissan, the other cars to
beat were the Shelby Cobras. I fixed my goals to one day own a cobra 427 or 289. But reality suddenly set in when they pushed the million-dollar mark as investments rather than race cars. So, my next fixation would be on having another C2 Corvette that drew a lot of attention even back then.

Fast forward to December 2022 and enter my 1965 Corvette purchased out of the Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri. The car had been well cared for and was not completely original. Not original to the car is the intake, heads, carburetor,
CAM, side exhaust and spinner wheels. The body had been repainted within the last 6-7 years with the frame and birdcage in excellent condition. It had spent a few years in Texas before Missouri, and several years out in California before that. Original paperwork from Pennsylvania was found in the glove box which included the Protect-o-Plate!

With the Internet sometimes being a good thing, I Googled the name on the paperwork. As it turns out, the original owner (James) is still alive in Pennsylvania. I connected with James over the phone and shared pictures with him. He is now in his early 80s and has not seen the car since 1972. He traded in a 59 Corvette for the 65 when he was just 25 years old (Imagine that……..could a 25-year-old do this today?). When I asked him why he sold the 65, he said his boss thought the car was too flashy and wanted him to trade it in on a new company car… which he did! Times sure have changed!

When I found it, the body was in good shape and recently painted. All I wanted to do was a body off to sandblast, clean up the frame with primer then paint, replace the fuel line, brake lines, bushings, rebuild the brake calipers, install new carpeting, seat cushions and vinyl. It sits with its factory color of silver pearl and black interior. BTW, I did this in 8 months!

My 3 kids Blake, Brooke and Bryce are now on their own and my wife Brenda was a HS Principal while I spent all this time restoring the 65. While she was dealing with school issues each and every night, I was free to put the “pedal to the metal” getting this project done in record time. I also have to thank a good lifetime buddy (Mark) for helping me out on some of the heavy lifting. He recently sold his 64 to my disappointment. I said I lost a C2 buddy, but he tells me I gained a Cobra buddy. We begin his Factory Five Cobra 427 build this Winter!

As for joining the NCRS, I have done so to gain some perspective on restoration processes as well as meet some really cool people that share the same passion!

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