Serving in the U.S. Army gave Paul Jakstas a lot of unique opportunities. One of them was experiencing European roadsters firsthand.
"While stationed in Germany, I drove a lot of different little cars," Paul says. "Porsche and Austin-Healeys were intriguing but I ended up buying an MGB."
Paul liked it so much he brought the car back with him to the states in 1965 when he returned to his home in Fox Lake, where he still resides today.
He ended up replacing that imported MGB with a new one but got to rethinking that decision a few months later. "I wanted to upgrade to something nicer and something more American," he says. Paul's perfect choice for a red, white and blue ride was a shiny new Corvette.
On April 10, 1967, Paul headed to John Teresi Chevrolet in Antioch to see what they had in stock.
"I drove a 427-equipped car around the block but thought it was way more than I wanted, figuring it was nothing but trouble," says Paul. He tried out the smaller, 327/350 cubic inch V-8 and found it was "still peppy enough" and certainly still capable of some trouble, but nothing the young man couldn't handle.
The dealer had several to choose from and Paul selected an Ermine White coupe that was parked on display in the showroom. Options were sparse on the Chevy but it did come equipped with a few extras, such as a radio and tinted glass.
For the next several years, Paul wasn't shy to put the classic to use. He had frequent job training in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, and used those work requirements as an opportunity to drive to the East Coast on numerous occasions. After getting married in 1969, he and his bride honeymooned in California, cruising West and up the coast in the Corvette. In 1970, the newlyweds vacationed in Florida, driving south for the excursion.
Besides the cross-country jaunts, Paul motored all over the suburbs, commuting downtown for a spell, too. On one of those early morning rides, one of the Corvette's major flaws was revealed.
"My biggest gripe was the brakes," Paul says. "While on the Eisenhower, traffic was backing up and I went to slow, only to find the brake pedal went to the floor."
Thankfully, Paul was able to quickly duck off onto a ramp, but this was just one of many times the issue arose. He took the vehicle back to the dealership for warranty work, but "nothing ever fixed the problem." It wouldn't be until 1979 when he performed a full frame-off restoration that a solution presented itself.
"Once stainless-steel (brake) calipers were installed, I never had that problem again," he says. "It made a world of difference."
The driving enthusiast should know. Over his decades of ownership, Paul has traveled more than 165,000 miles in the Corvette and he is still driving it regularly today.
"It ended up being a big upgrade over the MGBs," Paul says, "and one decision I'm still glad I made."
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