Noland Adams - Corvette Historian

Noland Adams

Noland AdamsCorvette author and historian, Noland Adams not only wrote the book on Corvette restoration, he lived it. When the marque was still in its infancy, Adams owned the very models he would some day write about in such copious detail' when the notion of restoration was just beginning to catch on, Adams joined the National Corvette Restorers society as one of its earliest members and officers, writing articles for its Corvette Restorer publication' and when the need for a comprehensive guide became apparent, Adams spent years researching and writing The Complete Corvette Restoration and Technical Guide Vol 1 (1953 - 1962) and Vol. 2 (1963 - 1967).

The lasting legacy of Noland Adams, however, will likely be the promotion of the Corvette hobby and devotion to meticulous restoration. Adam's interest in restoration was sparked in 1969 when he tracked down the '53 Corvette he had traded for a Chevy sedan eight years earlier. Recalls Adams, "It hadn't been on the road since 1965, and it sat in the back yard for four years, full of water, with parts all over the yard and garage. I bought that old Corvette and the heap of worn-out parts for $700.

"I started restoring the Corvette slowly and carefully. I would remove a part or two and begin repair/restoration. But as long as I had one section out, it was easy to get to the next part." As the pieces mounted, Adams lost track, and "so I did the only reasonable thing: I put them all in a big box."

Looking for help on the project, Adams joined the local Corvette club and then the NCRS. "Those were tough days," says Adams, "when information was really hard to locate. I went to all of the NCRS meetings I could and took notes about all of the questions that were asked—and how there were very few answers."

No authoritative guide was available, and when L. Scott Bailey of Automobile Quarterly contacted Adams in the Fall of 1974 about writing one himself, the novice author accepted the challenge.

For six years, Adams spent evenings, weekends and vacations travelling, researching and writing the first volume of his technical guide while he worked at his day job. His first marriage ended four years into the project. Friends would teasingly ask how the book was coming along. But Adams persevered, and in 1980, he had the satisfaction of signing the first edition of his book. It would take another six years to prepare the bulk of his second volume which, due to delays at AQ ,would not be published until 1988.

Along the way, Adams gained unprecedented access to GM's files, unearthing information that, according to the author, "we had been told over and over that it no longer existed!"

Adams recently described his researching methods. "Through many contacts (many started with friends in NCRS), I gained access to many 'hidden' records within Chevrolet. I found there were two ways to get information: 1) Make a direct request through Chevrolet Public Relations. 2) Go in a side door with a friend. I used both methods. While Chevy PR was helpful, they did not have the personnel to do research for me. I used my side door approach to locate the files and information I wanted. Once I new where it was, I requested copies."

Adams has spent his retirement applying the same intensive researching techniques to his American Legend histories. He has written hundreds of articles for the Corvette press, hosted a videotape series, and has made presentations on Corvette restoration throughout the United States as well as Canada, Sweden and England.