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Lake resident struck with Corvette fever

Restoration projects find ‘forever home’ with Dutch Weidner

Staff writer

Part-time Marion resident Dutch Weidner’s love affair with Corvettes began when his older brother bought and restored one he found in a pasture with a tree literally growing through it.

“I got the Corvette fever from my brother,” Weidner said.

Weidner bought his first Corvette, a 1976 model, in 1989 and drove it three or four years.

“I partially restored it and sold it,” he said.

He and his wife, Malea, have homes southeast of Lindsborg and at the county lake, where they spend weekends.

They drive four Corvettes now and have owned, restored, and driven several more.

“A lot of Corvettes have gone through my hands,” Weidner said. “Ten or 15.”

They can often be seen driving the streets of Marion in a 1986 Indianapolis 500 pace car.

They bought the black convertible with tan top and interior in 2008. Only 200 cars like it were built.

The car was also the first convertible model Corvette built since 1975.

At the time they bought the 1986 Corvette, Weidner was a parts specialist and a friend of his owned a Corvette junkyard and restoration business in St. Charles, Missouri.

“Its owner brought it into the shop and said he wanted to fix a few things before he sold it,” Weidner said.

The car was already advertised for sale.

There was a time when Corvettes were worth more as parts than as cars, and people sometimes would bring them into the shop because they could not afford repairs.

The shop owner would part out the cars.

Weidner admits that seeing a Corvette come into the shop was always rather like watching a puppy brought into a shelter. He thought the car needed a “forever home.”

“I took it for a drive,” he said. “I fixed what he wanted fixed on it, and very shortly after that it became ours.”

One of the things that made the car appealing was that it had been a pace car.

The Weidners also own a 1975 silver on silver convertible, few of which the company made.

Additionally, they own a 1988 blue on blue convertible that was also a very limited edition.

Their most recent model is a 1998 radar blue convertible pace car.

Its metallic paint makes the car look purple in the sun.

“It’s not the car that was on the track,” Weidner said. “When they were chosen as the Indianapolis pace car, they would build not only the cars to pace the race, they made replicas of them.”

The Weidners don’t spend time showing off their cars at car shows.

“I’m not a show guy,” he said. “I’m a go guy.”

He only took a car to a show once.

In 1952, a Corvette was displayed at the World’s Fair in Chicago as an experimental car, Weidner said.

The Corvette was born in 1953 as a production sports car that someone could buy ready-made, Weidner said. The base price for a Corvette roadster in 1953 was $3,400. That price is $33,458 in 2020 dollars.

The base price of 1975 coupe was $6,800.

That’s $33,282 in 2020 dollars. Convertibles of that year sold for $6,500, which equals $31,814 today.

Corvettes have been manufactured in only three American cities: Flint, Michigan, St. Louis, Missouri, and Bowling Green, Kentucky.

No other cars are built in Corvette factories.

“Back in the early days you could get a radio delete or a heater delete car,” Weidner said. “Some of the options that are standard today, you could have it built without it.”

Last modified Feb. 27, 2020

 

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