Jerry Beisner has discovered what he considers the ideal way to enjoy an antique 1961 Chevrolet Corvette. He owns it, but his sister and brother-in-law take care of it. The story begins in June 1961 when Beisner graduated from Ohio State University.
The young pharmacist set off to seek his fortune in Berkeley, Calif. Until June of 1963, he took a bus to work daily and saved his money. Then a classified ad in the San Francisco Chronicle caught his attention. The original owner of a 1961 Corvette had recently purchased a 1963 split window Corvette and had placed an ad in the newspaper offering his 1961 model for sale.
The car was in located about 10 miles distant, so Beisner went to investigate. “The Ermine White exterior and Tuxedo Black interior both were in great shape,” Beisner recalls. “I bought it on the spot.”
When new, the 1961 Corvette had a base price of $3,934. Beside the standard white convertible top on the car it also came with a white fiberglass removable top.
Chevrolet manufactured a total of 10,939 Corvettes during the 1961 model year. A set of 6.70×15-inch tires support the 2,905-pound two-seater on a 102-inch wheelbase. A single four-barrel carburetor atop the 283-cubic-inch V-8 engine feeds the engine that develops 230 horsepower. That was the base engine.
Two other more powerful engines were offered as optional extras: a 270-horsepower version and a fuel-injected setup producing a whopping 315 horsepower. The power from the engine in Beisner’s 1961 Corvette is transferred to the rear-drive wheels via a floor mounted four-speed manual transmission.
For the next six years, the Corvette became Beisner’s daily transportation. He remembers the positive reaction of his co-workers the first day he drove it to work.
“Everyone came out to admire it,” he says. Then Beisner would make many trips around the block with a different co-worker.
Beisner reports that the Corvette has no power equipment, but that it does have an AM Wonderbar radio. It also has a heater, but no air conditioner. He credits the Corvette with helping him court the lady who would become his wife in 1966.
By 1969, the Beisner family was growing. He laments, “The Corvette did not fit in to the family picture.” It had to go, but Beisner wanted to find a good home for the Corvette.
Beisner’s sister, Charlene, and her husband Dave, came to the rescue. The couple flew to the California coast, took possession of the Corvette, and drove off to their home in Tiffin, Ohio.
“It was a sad day,” Beisner recalls. However, he was satisfied that he had found a very good home for the car. He replaced the Corvette with what passed as a family car, a Pontiac Grand Prix.
In the last 40 years the Corvette has never strayed far from the town of Tiffin. “It has become a weekend car,” Beisner says. “It doesn’t go out in the rain or snow.”
After four decades the white finish had lost that new-car luster so a body-off restoration was orchestrated in the summer of 2009. “It needed freshening,” Beisner says.
Because the Corvette had never been wrecked, no bodywork was necessary. “Most of the chrome was still good,” Beisner says. The few trim pieces that were pitted were replaced.
The odometer on the low-mileage Corvette is now approaching 80,000 miles. Beisner says it currently is safely tucked away in Ohio under a cozy blanket waiting for winter to pass.
During the more than 40 years that his sister’s family has had the Corvette, Beisner has maintained his “visitation rights.” He has made the pilgrimage to Ohio at least once a year, which accounts for more than 40 visits. Therein lies the ideal solution for enjoying the Corvette whenever he visits. During the time when he isn’t visiting someone else takes care of the car.
“When the first warm day of spring arrives, it will be time to put the top down and go for a ride,” Beisner says. — Vern Parker, Motor Matters