Saturday, November 15, 2014

Vintage Vettes, the Dement brothers, and the greatest job in the world

“This can’t be right,” I thought as the GPS sent me to a crusty old office building on Memorial Boulevard in Murfreesboro. According to their website, Vintage Vettes handles a large assortment of pristine straight-axle Corvettes. Even as I went behind the building and opened the steel door, I did not see how this dark, dismal place could be what I was looking for. I introduced myself to a couple of guys sitting at desks plugging away on their computers, and they welcomed me to take a look in the next room. Suddenly I realized that my initial impressions were way off.

Brothers Donny and Tommy Dement ushered me into a huge finished garage, awash in neon light, that was housing one of the most beautiful collections of ’55 to ’62 Corvettes I’ve ever seen. Seriously, I want to be these guys when I grow up. Who wouldn’t want to go to work every day and be faced with all these shiny Corvettes. These guys have been doing this for better than 50 years. Lucky bastards. Today they unite Corvettes with new owners not only locally, but all over the world. They might have the greatest job in the history of the world!

All of these cars were special in their own ways, but this one was probably the gorilla in the room. They only made 700 Corvettes in 1955, and only 180 of them were Gypsy Red. Even fewer had a three-speed transmission like this one. They were asking $125,000, but hey, you only live once. As rare as this car is, I recently saw another one just like it on display at the Corvette Museum. I just assumed that it was the same car, but the Dements assured me that it wasn’t. ’55 was a great year for the Corvette, because it still had that Motorama dream car vibe, but it had some added punch thanks to the new 265-c.i. small-block V8.

Most of the cars in this showroom were red or white, so this Tuxedo Black-on-black ’59 stood out. I wouldn’t call it pristine, but it would be a fun car to have. Overall it was a nice one, with straight, older paint and good chrome. There was a 327 with an alternator sitting between the quad-headlights, which wasn’t available in 1959, but probably gives this car a few more suds. It was trimmed out to look original with the cast valve covers, ignition shielding, and air cleaner, so the casual car cruise onlooker probably wouldn’t even notice. This is a car you wouldn’t feel bad about using. You’d still need to come up with better than 56-grand to have that privilege, though.

I’m more of a fan of the ducktail cars, and it’s hard to go wrong with a Roman Red-on-red ’62. This was a transition year for the Corvette. It was the last year for this generation, but the first year for the 327. The chrome around the coves, and subsequently, the two-tone paintjob was gone, along with wide whitewall tires. There were a couple of deviations from original here, like an aftermarket radio and shifter, non-matching number engine, and ’61 Corvette trunk emblem. But it was still a very impressive looking machine. This car is 52 years old, and there has not been one day in all of that time that it wasn’t a cool car.

I used to like ‘58s the least of this generation Corvette, but they’re growing on me. This year was different than all the others because they had that elephant skin-like vinyl in the seats, and of course the fake hood louvers and chrome trunk strips. Like the ’59, this one also has a cosmetically correct but technically wrong 327 under the louvers. It had an exceptionally nice restoration on it, though. That color was called Silver Blue, and the price tag was $69,900.

You may be thinking, “but Craig, you’ve been to Vintage Vettes before, and it looked nothing like this.” Well, that’s because there is also a Vintage Vettes, L.L.C in Kansas City. That’s a cool place too, and you can read about it here.

But for pictures of Tennessee’s Vintage Vettes, you can check out the slideshow below, or click this link for a nicer version.


  1. My brother Dwayne was able to purchase one of only six 1956 SR1 Corvettes from Doane Chevrolet, near Chicago, Illinois. It was the only one painted in a bronze color. Bruce Geisler from Huntington Beach, CA bought it. He set a national top speed record with it, as well as many drag race wins.....................RogerG........... Grotewold Motor Co, Larchwood, Iowa.

  2. Cool place! I would love to go there.