Youll never see another Vette like it

Messenger photos by Kristy Zurbrick

Kevin Congrove polishes his 1989 customized Corvette at the Uptown Plain City Organization’s Aug. 2 car show.

Some car enthusiasts are staunch about sticking to stock parts. Others go wild with customization. Kevin Congrove definitely belongs to the second group.

His purple and yellow 1989 Corvette was hard to miss at the Uptown Plain City Organization’s (UPCO) car show, held Aug. 2 on Plain City’s main drag.

The car looked like it could fly, thanks to the open vertical doors. The back hatch was wired for sound—and lots of it—in the form of 10,000 watts of stereo power. The 2006 freight liner tail lights glowed even in broad daylight.

“People told me, ‘You can’t do this’ and ‘You can’t do that,’ but this is proof you can do it if you put your mind to it,” said Congrove.

Case in point: Experts say Corvettes can’t take 20-inch wheels. Congrove’s Vette is styling in 20-inchers from a BMW, and he drives the car every day.

This outside-the-box thinking has been part of Congrove’s personality since he started tinkering with cars as a young boy. One time, he and a friend cut the front ends off of two pick-up trucks to create a vehicle that looked like it was coming and going at the same time. There are no limits.

Congrove puts his creativity to work at Sterling Accessories, a shop in Plain City that specializes in Corvette parts. He credits his employer with designing and donating some of the accessories that make his ’89 Vette special:

• vertical doors, which are mounted via a bolt-on system, which means they can easily be taken off to return the car to stock;

• “air ride” suspension, for which the car was featured in the June 2008 edition of Corvette Enthusiast; and

• an under-hood mirror kit. (Congrove also coated his dash board and back hatch with mirrors.)

While Congrove has added many bells and whistles to his car since moving to Plain City in the last year, the bulk of the work took place in a two-car garage in Kansas over a two-year period.

“It was jet black when I started,” Congrove said.

He’s done all the work himself, including the paint job, which started with 13 coats of base color (NAPA yellow and Ford Edge purple) and 17 coats of clearcoat. He put together the 460 horse-power Chevy motor with Ford injectors. He’s the person who keeps the car running in good enough shape to top speeds of 200 mph.

Congrove’s hard-to-label Vette didn’t take a prize at the UPCO show, but it has racked up many awards at other venues: 2006 and 2007 celebrity’s choice at the Mid-America Motorworks Funfest (out of 15,000 entries); first place at the Branson, Mo., Corvette Club show; award of excellence at the 2008 Arthritis Foundation show in Dublin, Ohio; and Top 25 in the 2008 Poorman’s Car Show held earlier this summer in Plain City.

“I go to shows to see how people react to the improvements I’ve made to the vehicle. It might give people ideas of what they can do to their cars,” Congrove said.

Keith Taylor, whose family resides in Plain City, restored this 1949 Ford with his father, Walter, who entered a 1947 Chevy in the show.
This year’s show lined the main drag in Plain City.

UPCO Car Show Results

The weather was perfect for UPCO’s first car show on the streets of Plain City. The Aug. 2 event attracted over 150 cars, up 50 from the show’s usual registration total, said Julie Weaver, UPCO’s promotions committee chairperson.

“The best thing I noticed—and there were a number of people who mentioned it as well—was the surprised people,” Weaver said. “I passed people on their cell phones calling friends and saying, ‘There are show cars on the street. Come down here.’ ”

Many prizes were awarded at the show. The winners are as follows:

Entrants’ Choice—Tina McClone, Irwin, 1970 VW Beetle

Police Officers’ Choice—Bob Miller, Dublin, 1971 DodgeBarracuda

Best Detail—Bill Gingerich, Plain City, 1966 Nova

Best pre-1940—Ron Short, Marysville, 1931 Ford

Best 1940-1959—Wayne Nissley, Plain City, 1955 Chevy

Best 1960-1979—Don Houchin, Bellefontaine, 1966 Chevelle

Best 1980-Newer—Tony Holland, Powell, 2001 Corvette

Best in Show—Tom Lamb, Marysville, 1953 Ford

Top 20

Scott Dever, Hilliard, 1955 Ford pickup

Bill Gingerich, Plain City, 1966 Chevy Nova

Ted Smith, London, 1967 Ford Mustang

Bo Taylor, Kenton, 1970 Chevy Camaro

Mark Richmond, Grove City, 1967 Karmann Ghia

Thomas and Hallie Holland, Delaware, 1969 Chevy Camaro

Bill McCray, Delaware, 1965 Ford Cobra

Ory Roberts, Plain City, 1970 Dodge Dart

Mark Chaffin, Lewis Center, 1965 Chevy Corvette

Rosie and Sonnie LeMaster, Hilliard, 1965 Dodge Coronet

George Moore, Columbus, 1966 Chevy Camaro

Frank Iafolla, Columbus, 1966 Chevy Corvette

Tom Whitten, Columbus, 1957 Chevy Belair

Mike Mitchell, Hilliard, 1969 Chevy Corvette

Don Richardson, Tiffin, 1956 Ford Crown Victoria

Bob and Mary Lee Collins, Obetz, 1960 Cadillac

Bud LeMaster, Hilliard, 1969 Dodge Coronet

Jim Martin, Plain City, 1972 Gremlin

Thad Roberts, Plain City, 1969 Dodge Super Bee

Kevin Kelly, Dublin, 1957 Pontiac

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