Imagine you’re graduating from high school. Dreams of the future are in your eyes as you try to decide what your next steps are.
Do you follow in your father’s footsteps and join his business? Go to college?
That’s the decision Richard Pinke had in 1958.
And his father made the decision a lot easier when he gave Pinke a brand new 1958 Panama Yellow Chevrolet Corvette as a graduation present and told his son to go to college.
Pinke’s father, owner of a tool-and-die shop in Florida, saw there was little future in the tool-and-die industry. He recommended his son become an engineer.
Which is what Richard Pinke did, attending college in Florida. After graduating, Pinke moved to Michigan where he worked as an engineer for Cadillac.
Pinke’s graduation present stayed in Florida, stored in a warehouse for over 35 years. When Pinke had it shipped to Michigan in 2006, the car had less than 200 miles on it.
I met Pinke this weekend when I visited the car show at the annual Plymouth Fall Festival in Plymouth, Michigan. He was sitting in his chair on the sidewalk as I admired the styling and details of the classic car.
“Are you the original owner? ” I asked. He replied yes, and shared the history of his beautiful car.
When his father bought the car from Fox Chevrolet in Panama City, Florida, he paid $3,250 for it. Today the car is valued at around $230,000 (US dollars).
Pinke and his father believe the car was ordered by a fellow who expected to race the Corvette and scrap it afterwards. For some reason, the fellow didn’t purchase the car.
The car is in it’s original condition, with few changes, other than new tires and some hoses.
Due to it’s pristine condition, Chevrolet has asked Pinke if they can show his Corvette at auto shows across the country.
He agreed and his Panama Yellow Corvette has been seen at the New York and Chicago auto shows, as well as many others. This summer, Pinke has shown his automobile at 10 local car shows.
Pinke wanted to remove some of the yellow-aged glue used to attach rubber seals on the inside of the doors, but was told by Chevrolet to leave it alone. Removing the dried glue would devalue the car.
“Take a look at the belts on the seat, ” Richard told me as I was checking out the dashboard. “Look carefully.”
I peered at the belts. They looked like seat belts to me.
But as I looked more closely, I noticed something odd.
I glanced at Pinke, with a puzzled look on my face.
He had a grin on his face. “Those aren’t seat belts. They didn’t have seat belts back then. Those are parachute straps.”
I smiled back.
I love attending car shows to see the beautiful automobiles and the craftsmanship and details you don’t see with modern automobiles.
But what I enjoy most is listening to the car owners talk about themselves and their vehicles.
Thank you Richard Pinke for chatting with me yesterday about your Corvette and your life. And thank you for stopping by and allowing me to be a part of your Sunday.