Tom Kelly's 1969 Chevrolet
In 2018 Tom told Sondre Kvipt of Kustomrama that he bought the car in the Fall of 1968. Painted Bermuda Orange, it was powered by a 427 engine "It was my first corvette. I was VP of the Corvette Club of St. Louis over the next 5 years or so. I was antsy and I had a custom paint job put on a year later. In the summer of 1971, we were hosting the NCCC Convention in St. Louis, Missouri and while on a cruise down the Mississippi river, my car was stolen from the parking lot, stripped and found across the river in East St. Louis, Illinois in an alley... No wheel, seats, engine etc."
Recovered and Customized
The Police found the car two weeks later, and Tom decided to buy it back from the insurance company. In the meanwhile, he had bought a replacement, "as I didn't think I'd see the first one again. The replacement was same Bermuda Orange and a convertible but was a 435 C.I engine. Since I now had two, I decided to turn the first one into a custom car."
Designed by Harry Bradley, Restyled by Dave Puhl at Scully's Kustom's
Tom trailered the remains of the Corvette to Dave Puhl in Palatine, Illinois in August of 1971 to have him do the work. "I wanted it ready for the 1972 NCCC Convention in Dallas, Texas," Tom told Kustomrama. Tom told Dave what he wanted to do with the car, and he got Harry Bradley do design a few proposals. "Dave had a few different designs floated by me to see what appealed to me, so he could begin work. I selected the one you see. The rest were returned to him." The build was delayed, and in February of 1972 Tom received a letter with an apology from Dave; "Super sorry about the delay - but I couldn't avoid it - just before Christmas the property that my shop was on was sold and I was informed that I had thirty days to vacate the premises as I didn't have a lease - so after being in business some seventeen years I suddenly found myself without a shop." Dave had to clean out all the small jobs and let Tom's Corvette go till he found another shop. "As it turned out I still haven't found the shop I want so I asked a friend of mine if I could work out of his shop till I finished your car - He has a super neat shop - about three years old that holds about ten cars and has a spray booth - I finally got everything moved out of my old shop and can start working on your car again - As of this writing - the rear end is almost finished - the front end will be glassed and finished within the next two weeks - then the wheel wells, scoops, etc. The car should be finished towards the end of March - If you could come here - say the weekend of March 4th we could go over the interior, paint, details - etc. SORRY AGAIN! Dave. Your car is at and I can be reached at Scully's Kustom's, 201 Industrial Lane, Wheeling, Illinois - 60090."
Custom Upholstery and Supercharged Engine
The upholstery work was performed by Herb's Auto-Craft Interiors in Wheeling, and a Hilborn injected and supercharged engine was bought from Bob Townsend Jr.. Tom bought a complete 427 Chevrolet engine from Bob that had been bored 60 over, balanced, blue-printed and clearanced.
Hot Rod Magazine Centerfold
Puhl completed the build at Dick Scully's shop in July of 1972, "and I picked it up and headed to Texas in record time.." Once completed, the car was featured as a centerfold in Hot Rod Magazine July 1973. The Corvette was Tom's first and only real custom. In 2018 he still had the second Corvette. The first one he had given to his son so he could rehab it.
Magazine Features and Appearances
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