Story and Photos by: Shannon Hammett
Since completing the restoration on their '66 Chevelle in 1995, Simon and James have been hitting the show circuit and reaping the rewards. Some might say that you just can't drive a car this nice and still show it. James and Simon beg to differ.
“We've put almost 3,000 miles on the car so far,” said James, “For a regular car, that's not a lot of miles, but for a show car, it is. We do trailer the car to out-of-town shows. But, if it's a local show, we drive it. We've been driving this car since 1995. Everything on this car has been on it since 1995. We refresh the car yearly. You don't see many black cars this slick that have held up as well as this one has. It's just as nice underneath too. The last time this car scored was in the middle of last year. It scored a 998.”
Although James and Simon love their Chevelle, it's biggest fan is James' four year old son, Jacob. Since the Chevelle is too much muscle for such a little guy, dad made sure that Jacob had a little muscle of his own in the form of a stroller.
“I built a classic car stroller for him,” said James, “It's been sanded and buffed just like a real car; it's slick as a button. It's got a Billet windshield, a tube chassis underneath and Cragar wheel centers. It also has a carpeted floorboard, a trunk, seats that raise up and working brake lights; it's got everything. It took me four months and $2500 to put it all together. He probably has the most expensive stroller of any kid you'll find. You wouldn't believe the looks we gotten when we would take him riding around in this thing in the mall. This stroller alone should tell you how car crazy we are.”
In this family, the boys aren't the only ones with the muscle. James' wife Jennifer has some muscle of her own. A 1964 Red Corvette. Jennifer's dad, Larry Helms bought the car in 1971.
“I was in the Navy on a nuclear submarine,” said Larry, “I bought the Corvette when I came in on leave. I drove it for about a year and then parked it in '72 because of engine problems. It stayed parked until 2001.”
“I used to play in it when I was a kid,” said Jennifer, “I would pretend like I was driving it. Dad would always tell me, 'When you're old enough to drive that car; it will be yours.' Sixteen rolled around; twenty rolled around; even thirty rolled around and the car was still sitting there under his carport. I didn't think I was ever going to get that car.”
In 2001, Larry had the car fixed and painted. Shortly after, a hip replacement would prevent him from driving the car. So, the Vette went back to the carport where it stayed until Jennifer's 33rd birthday.
“I actually got it this past July for my birthday,” said Jennifer, “It had been sitting for a while, so we had to do a little work to get it up and running again. Nothing major though.”
About a month after her dad told her she could have the Corvette, Jennifer found out that she was pregnant. Jennifer called her mom, Pam to tell her the good news.
“She didn't just call us up and tell us she was expecting,” Pam laughed, “The way she let us know about this pregnancy was by calling and saying, 'Well, I guess I need to come and get my car while I can still fit behind the steering wheel.' As much fun as we've had in this car over the years; we've had more fun watching her enjoy it.”
“I may only be 11 days away from my due date,” said Jennifer, “But I can still fit behind that steering wheel, so I'm still driving it.”
James would like to eventually turn his wife's Vette into a show car. But, according to Jennifer, her little red Corvette is going to stay as is.
“This car is my escape,” said Jennifer, “I like going to the shows, but nothing beats being able to get behind the steering wheel of this car and drive down the road. You don't see these cars being driven that much anymore. Everyone trailers them. What fun is that? I'd rather have it as something that I can get out and just drive.”
The same day of the interview, this classic muscle car family welcomed their newest addition. A healthy baby boy named James Justin. Congratulations!