As told by owner and collector Michael E. Stephens
Written by Kaitlin Candelaria
Unique to 1959 was the color arctic blue for Corvettes, which has always been a favorite of mine. I found Bluebird on a website of a well-known national venue that sells cars in the rough. Seeing that Bluebird was in fairly good shape, fuel injected and had been sitting in a barn for ten years, I thought to myself “How could you go wrong for this price?”
The nightmare with this car is reflective of the real life nightmares we sometimes experience when we go off chasing little bluebirds.
So, I called the organization and offered ten percent less and they took it. And when Bluebird arrived, she really didn’t look that bad. But we soon found that the engine was hard to crank and when finally we got it to crank, smoke billowed out of the exhaust.
But that didn’t discourage me – it had such a unique turquoise blue interior. I rapidly went to my computer and ordered all the things I thought she needed. I ordered a new bumperette on the rear, carpet for the cockpit and a chrome tag for the front.
Larry is a true mechanic of yesteryear. He went to work on the engine, and Chris, our young upstart, started on the interior. There were things that we decided not to worry about such as the carpet — the manufacturer specifications was a bit bright for my taste, but we let it ride. The paint job was fairly nice.
Our dear friend Mark visited the shop to see the Vette and remarked that it would be a nice car to sell or to keep. He referred to the Vette as what’s called a survivor. A survivor is one of those cars that has been driven and mired over the years without any refreshments or renovations. They have withstood time. They stand as a solid symbol of the past.
At this point, I was still very optimistic about the Vette. We started finishing up the car and getting ready to put it on the market. Then, Larry told me the car was experiencing a few rust issues. Rust? On a fiberglass car?
I assure you it was there. So, we started trying to solve the many problems, the first being the engine – the valves were stuck. Then, parts of the frame and other metal features on the car suffered from rust.
Surmising that it was a problem larger than us, we decided it was time to take Bluebird to Mark’s shop for the application of his knowledge and skills. Bluebird’s body was removed from the frame and the frame, motor, transmission, brakes and exhaust system were totally renovated and painted, leaving Bluebird in pristine shape.
The body was placed back on it. We still had the thought of this car as being a survivor, but in today’s time, we seem to be a society that doesn’t like the girl in the secondhand dress, in tattered clothing, in a coat of many colors. We like the new and fashionable. So when we continued to have problems with Bluebird even after Mark’s master makeover, I started to lose hope.
Fate had it that upon our last photo shoot, I was approached by Bobby Allen. Allen is indeed one of the finest restorers of Corvettes in the nation. Bobby has restored a 1959 Corvette that to this day holds the highest ranking and judgement among Corvettes in the United States. That car remains as an example in a museum of what of a Corvette should look like. So needless to say, he was just the guy to take on Bluebird.
After talking with Bobby about some issues we were having with the front fenders, I decided his shop was the place for her. She’s now gone to his personal shop to enjoy some renovations which will make her the belle of the ball. Bobby will be starting an eight month restoration of Bluebird and she will debut in summer 2017. We’ll be bringing you interviews with Bobby and pictures of Bluebird as she develops under his skillful hands.