[News] Business zooming for Corvette restorer
Business zooming for Corvette restorer
By Larry Weist
Deseret Morning News
Published: Aug. 31, 2007 12:25 a.m. MDT
BOUNTIFUL, UTAH — Corvette lovers will get to see a bit of classic car heaven Saturday as House of Customs celebrates its 50 years of business making and installing Corvette interiors, and tops and interiors for nearly every other car ever made over the years.
Owner John Kennedy started the business full time in 1957 after working at Hill Air Force Base. In 1970 he built a new shop at 519 N. 500 West, Bountiful. He will have 12 cars, including Corvettes, roped off in front of his shop Saturday to celebrate the anniversary. The celebration runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
In the old days Kennedy did upholstery work for everything except furniture — including airplanes from Piper Cubs to Lear jets. For the past 14 years he has specialized in 1953-55 Corvettes. One of the reasons for his success is that he has original General Motors upholstery patterns, so his production is exact. His customer log book is filled for the next two years and, because he works alone, the amount of work he can turn out is limited.
A Corvette soft top, for example, is comprised of 67 individual pieces that take three days to cut out and sew together. Customers pay for his flight to their locations, and he figures each job is one week long with three days to install and fit the top and two days of travel.
"It's a very time-consuming business," he said. "I could go to Las Vegas or Phoenix and do four or five cars a week, but I can't keep up and I don't make promises I can't keep."
Although he will be 76 next month, Kennedy looks and acts much younger and said he has no intention of slowing down or retiring. "It's a fun job, and I really enjoy doing what I do."
In the past Kennedy has tried to hire helpers but to his dismay, they oftentimes overstated their qualifications and he ended up doing the work himself.
He owns seven classic Corvettes outright and has half interest in an eighth. He said he doesn't have the time to fully enjoy his collection.
The late-model 'Vettes not only are high performance, but they get surprisingly good gas mileage, Kennedy said. "People don't believe me when I tell them they are high-performance economy cars." The new ones get 29 to 30 miles per gallon on a trip, he said.
Kennedy is a member of the National Corvette Restorers Society and has been a judge for that group for many years as well as being a technical advisor. He also is on the Bloomington Gold certification team, another Corvette group, and has judged for it for the past two years. "I don't profess to know everything about these cars, but there is no one in the Corvette hobby who knows more because they are either dead or retired."
i know john very well and he is a great person and a walking book
I seems that John Kennedy has recently passed away. NCRS National Judging Chairman Roy Sinor posted this earlier this morning on the NCRS Tech Board.
NCRS 1360.............SACC 2082.............C1 Registry..............L81 Registry
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