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Single Family '61

Fred Kokaska

My father bought his 1961 Corvette new at Dick Fencl Chevy in Oak Park, Illinois in February 1961. It was a base engine, 3-speed manual, Ermine White exterior with a Jewel Blue interior. He had just turned 18 and had enlisted in the Air Force. His grandfather helped him afford the car as an incentive. After 4 years in the Air Force, he married my mom in 1964. I was born the following year. The Vette was the only vehicle they had, so I had to ride home from the hospital in my mom’s arms in the passenger seat. A second car was soon acquired, but my dad managed to hold onto the Vette through marriage, raising 2 kids, and family moves to upstate New York, Minnesota, Chicago, Sunnyvale, back to Chicago, then to San Diego in 1976.

Sometime in the 1980’s, the car developed some minor problems, and was parked. My dad was pursuing other passions at that time, including flying and building his own airplane, so the car was “forgotten” in a corner of an aircraft hangar. After my dad passed away in 2011, we “re-discovered” the Vette, which had been sitting untouched for 30 years. At that time I was quite busy myself with a wife, two kids, and running a small business. I seriously considered selling the car. But a good friend of mine took me aside and said “If you sell that car, you will regret it for the rest of your life”. I realized he was right.

I started off with four new tires and getting the motor to start so I could limp the car to my garage. Since then, with some help from my son, we have gently refurbished the car. I have tried to keep as much original as possible. I do almost all of the work myself. The exterior paint is still original, as I was able to achieve a good result with wet-sand and polish. All of the soft materials (seats, carpets, top) have been replaced, as well as mechanical overhaul of just about every part of the car. The car now looks and runs great. I enjoy attending car shows and cruise-ins, and the car always draws attention. Best of all, it’s a great way of remembering my dad.

Fred Kokaska's Parts List