The Classic Corvette Club UK Nationals
Wood Green Animal Shelter, Godmanchester, Cambridgeshire
2nd – 3rd July 2016
Words & Photography: Paul Bussey.
The CCCUK haven’t been very lucky with the weather for their Nationals in recent years and were long overdue some lovely sunny summer weather, which is exactly what they got, at long last, plus sponsorship from Ian Allan Motors Ltd, the sole UK authorised (Corvette, Cadillac and Camaro,) dealership. The greensward on the rally field was well mown, each generation of Corvette parking areas were all laid out, much more centralised than last year and thus everything was set for ’Vette Heads main event of the year, organised by club Chairman Rich Rogers and team: Bring it on! Saturday is traditionally a workshop forum day in the marquee, this year with talks being given by experts in their field, Paul Allen from Lincolnshire Corvette and Keith Beschi of Eurovettes, who are also long time club stalwarts.
Sunday is Show ’n’ Shine day, with no less than 17 awards up for grabs, thus the scene was set at the Wood Green Animal Shelter, with polishing and preening at fever pitch from early morning. It’s always great to have support from the continent, with regulars from Belgium, including motoring journalist and avid photographer Jonny Bens, Danny Straedmans and Jan Huybrechts to name but a few. Danny has no less than 11 Corvettes in his collection, ranging from 1954 to 2016, but can only drive one car at a time, so this year he brought along his new C7, while Yan brought his C7 Z06. Other visitors from abroad who are also club members, were Arjan and Esther Kersten with their 2001 C5, owned for nine years. Together with other friends in their C5, they incorporated a visit to the Nationals via a two week motoring holiday. After catching a ferry from the west coast of Holland to Newcastle, they first toured around Scotland and the Isle of Skye, before heading south. “We used to own a C3, but the C5 is much better for long distance driving,” points out Esther. “We’ve taken the C5 to Prague and Luxembourg and last year it was Sweden and Denmark.”
David Palmer and Jan Graf had just returned from a trip to Le Mans in their 2015 C7 Z06. They took delivery of the car at the Corvette Museum, thus have a plaque inside with their names on it. “For six months of the year we live in Florida and the other six in the UK, so the car is shipped backwards and forwards so we can drive it all the time,” explained David. “The C7 remains a totally US spec car and displays Florida licence plates at the rear. Next we will be off to Valkenburg in Holland for the Dutch Corvette show, which is really an excellent event.”
One of the day’s star turns was Paul Allen’s 1954 Corvette C1, finished in Polo White, with a Sportsman Red interior, that has retained a high degree of originality. It’s rare that you come across a very early example of a Corvette in the UK, so it was one of the most admired and viewed cars at the show. It had been the subject of a 13 year restoration to a high standard prior to Paul’s ownership. He then spent quite a while ironing out some issues, which now makes the car very reliable and everything works, right down to the radio!
Julian Maxfield and Tracey Thorne were displaying their C5 that was imported from Florida in 2006. Due to accident damage last year (the other driver’s fault!) Julian took the opportunity to further personalise the car, by fitting a Duraflex ZR Edition 2 bonnet, which he believes is unique in the UK. The chrome finish on the wheels was beginning to flake off, so they were painted yellow and black to colour co-ordinate with the body colour: “We’ve driven the car to Barcelona twice and in two weeks time are driving down to the South of France,” he enthused.
Darren Parish is no stranger when it comes to being an award winner at the Nationals, with his various cars over the years. This year his latest Corvette, a 1963 Sting Ray coupe was making its post restoration show debut and deservedly picked up the Ray Groves Memorial Trophy for Best in Show and Best C2 Award. An in-depth body-off chassis Custom Exotics restoration retained the original engine, which has been slightly tweaked. There’s now fully adjustable coil-over suspension front and rear and Z06 brakes all round, which Darren says does wonders for improved overall handling qualities. The interior has been re-trimmed in red leather using a diamond stitch pattern, headlining as well.
Roger Thornton purchased his 1966 427 Sting Ray coupe 22 years ago. It was originally sold in Boston and eventually owned by an enthusiast who worked in the oil industry. He imported the car to the UK, but due to work commitments, it was rarely used and sat in a barn gathering dust. “Back then it was painted gold and didn’t have front bumpers fitted,” remembers Roger. “I took it for an MoT test, it passed and I drove it like that for the next seven years, including a visit to the Nationals 18 years ago. The car was restored and repainted around 12 years ago.”
Richard Gardner’s 1965 Corvette Roadster was an eBay purchase in the USA three years ago: “You never quite know what you’re getting with an unseen purchase on eBay. However, the previous owner had spent $100,000 on a restoration that included a $25,000 paint job. I don’t think the car has ever been out in the rain and all I needed to do was tidy the electrics and stuff like that.” Keith and Christine brought along their 1963 Sting Ray coupe which had been purchased from the Vice President of Capital Records in Los Angeles. Keith was also completing some NCRS judging at the show on three cars. Incidentally any car that was to be considered for general judging, was displaying a yellow ‘Eligible For Voting’ card in the window, leaving no room for any misunderstanding and a very good idea. There were plenty of fine cars at the Nationals, early generation Corvettes were still very thin on the ground and interestingly C6 models, almost matching C5 in numbers attending, C4s not far behind, while C3s were predominent, but only by a whisker!