Mark Reuss, General Motors' head of global product development, wasn't looking for a major restoration project when he bought a very rare black 1954 Corvette last fall. But that's what the car turned into.
When the Corvette rolled off the delivery truck, it wouldn't start.
When it finally got going, it overheated.
Then there were electrical problems galore.
Then the brakes failed.
Then a lobe on the camshaft wore away.
None of those problems phased Reuss. He rolled up his sleeves and fixed everything himself. Working nights and weekends, he picked off one problem after another.
Reuss donned a stethoscope and tuned the car's triple side-draft Carter carburetors. He even sewed the car's new red interior himself.
One day last week he drove his car to work and then took it to a classic car event on Detroit's Belle Isle.
With its 150-hp truck engine, two-speed automatic transmission and passenger car frame and suspension, the original '53 and '54 Corvette was not much competition for the Jaguars and other imported sports cars of the day. But Reuss says the original Corvette was "a good first effort" for Chevrolet's first sports car.
His black car, one of 10 known to survive, is a car he's always wanted.
He told Autoweek last fall: "They only cranked out a few black '54s from the Corvette factory in St. Louis, and I just think the car looks fantastic."