Dan Bomben's dad, Gino, left his home in Italy and came to the United States in 1959. It didn't take him long to fall in love with American sports cars.
The one that caught Gino's eye, and affection, was the 1963 Chevrolet Corvette, which many deem one of the most beautiful car designs of all time.
"Dad always wanted one," Dan recalls. "He kept saying, 'One day I'm going to own one.' "
That day finally arrived in 1973 when the eager enthusiast found one tucked away languishing in a Chicago garage. At the time, Dan was a 10-year kid who tagged along. The car had been modified for racing (a proper use for the performance runner) but Gino had no intention of mixing it up on a twisty road course. He wanted the car back to its full showroom glory.
Thankfully, the owner (who was its second) had preserved loads of original parts from the first owner and threw them in as part of the deal.
"He gave us a solid foundation to start with," says Dan, who agreed to chip in $100 of his own communion money to help pay for the car (which changed hands for $1,500).
Dino and Dan got their car home but, unable to devote loads of time to it, could only work on it little by little. "I remember when we took the transmission out," Dan explains. "We had it all laid out on the workbench in our home's basement, going through a repair manual. For the most part, we were self-taught on how to work on the car."
Their determination paid off and the 'Vette was put back on the road in 1988. Its first trip was returning home from the painter.
"I rode Dad out on my motorcycle and I followed him home. It was amazing to be behind him watching him drive the car for the first time."
The guys originally wanted the car to be painted blue. However, after finding its original Sebring Silver color hidden behind the taillight bezels, they changed their minds.
The car was completed in time for the 1989 Bloomington Gold Corvette show. After getting judged, their classic earned a Silver Award. They went home with a long list of items that needed to be addressed to garner a Gold rating.
"Dad wanted Gold. It took us nearly three years to go through that list but we went one item at a time getting it right," Dan says.
In 1993, father and son returned to find their hard work had paid off; they were awarded Gold.
Gino has driven the car on longer trips, traveling to Hersey, Pennsylvania, and to the official opening of the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
"We're like a couple of kids talking about the car or when we're working on it," Dan says. "It's an amazing feeling when you've had your hand all through a special project like this, and especially to have done it with your dad."
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