IF YOU GO
What: 13th annual Camas Car Show
When: 4 to 8:30 p.m., Saturday, July 7
Where: Historic downtown Camas
More info: downtowncamas.com/event/camas-car-show
If you’ve ever wandered around a classic car show and pondered how tough it might be to restore one of those gleaming beauties, Steve Chaney can assure you: It’s tough … like, “scouring for original parts for the better part of a year, spending more than $100,000 and throwing 1,100 hours toward restoration work” tough.
Of course, the payoff is pretty sweet.
Chaney knows this, too.
His meticulously restored 1954 235ci 6-cylinder tripower Chevrolet Corvette convertible — with its flawless “Polo White” exterior and carefully detailed “Sportsman Red” interior — has been taking top honors at car shows since he finished its restoration in 2017. It even won the Best in Show award at the 2017 Camas Car Show.
“This is as close to the original color as you can get,” Chaney explained, running his hand over the convertible’s gleaming, eggshell white body. “This was a total, off-frame restoration.”
The 1953-54 Corvettes are considered the first American sports car, Chaney said. Chevy only made 300 of the 1953 models and about 2,500 of the 1954s.
Chaney estimates his car is likely one of roughly 1,500 ’54 Corvettes in existence and one of very few that have been completely restored using original parts and “the way it would have been in 1954” details.
Perfecting the restoration took a lot of research. Chaney had restored classic Chevys before, but finding pristine, original parts for a ’54 Corvette proved a little more challenging.
“The original parts were all over the country,” Chaney said. “I found some on eBay and some from private Corvette (collectors).”
The parts weren’t cheap, either. Chaney recalls spending $1,000 for an original gas cap.
Once he’d completed the restoration, Chaney wasn’t shy about taking his work of 1954 art on the road. He often drives the convertible on back roads near his Camas-Vancouver area home, and has taken the Corvette to car shows throughout the region, including the prestigious, 44-year-old Concours d’Elegance in Forest Grove, Oregon, which, according to the show’s website, features cars from every era of automotive history … from the earliest horseless carriages to the latest sports cars.”
In 2017, Chaney’s Corvette took two awards at the Concours d’Elegance, including a hard-won second place prize in the car’s class.
Chaney said he loves July shows like the Concours and the Camas Car Show, which are set in shaded areas and not out in the hot sun.
The Camas show, in particular, he said, is fun to attend.
“It’s a nice show. It’s downtown and there are a few restaurants open,” Chaney said of the upcoming Camas Car Show.
Beautiful though it may be, the creamy white convertible most likely won’t be in the running for the Camas Car Show’s Best in Show award again this year, Chaney said.
“I think my brother is going to be judging that prize,” Chaney, brother of Camas Mayor Pro Tem Don Chaney, explained. “I can help him … since I know a little more about cars than he does!”
Want to come admire Chaney’s Corvette and see how that friendly sibling rivalry goes during the Best in Show judging?
Head to downtown Camas between 4 and 8:30 p.m., Saturday, July 7 for the 13th annual Camas Car Show. Admission is free for spectators. The event also features raffles with proceeds benefiting the Camas-Washougal Inter-Faith Treasure House food bank, live music, dance performances at 6 p.m., and other family friendly entertainment. For more information, visit the Downtown Camas Association site at downtowncamas.com/event/camas-car-show.