Local Man Breathes Life into ’54 Corvette for First Time in 40 Years

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WEST DES MOINES, Iowa - Darren Brown is a "Corvette guy."

"It's what I do," he said.

His shop, Nostalgic Enterprises, in Valley Junction, is where Corvettes congregate.

"There's probably not half a dozen Corvette shops left in this country, anyway," he said.

He's seen a lot, but Richard Helverson's 1954 model takes the cake.

"Bought it used," Helverson said. "Brought it back from Florida in 1961."

His car has seen more time in the garage, than on the road. For the past 40 years, it's sat still.

"My family's been bugging me for I don't know how many years to do something - what are you going to do with that car? Why don't you just pedal it, or get it fixed? So I finally decided it was time to get it fixed," he said.

That's why Helverson brought it to Brown.

"It's like atrophy - it's like someone sitting on the couch for 35 years, expecting they're going to be able to get up off the couch and run to the mailbox," Brown said. "They're going to get off the couch and be lucky if they can walk to the front door."

But in the moment of truth - the key turns, and it's alive. Though, there are still some kinks to work out, like faulty brakes, and seating that was eaten away by mice, leaving lawn chair cushions in its place for the time being.

"It has a heartbeat, will roll down the road, it will stop sometimes too abruptly," Helverson said. "So we've got a lot of work to do. The interior needs a lot of work."

But after 40 years in storage, Helverson says it feels good to get this thing back on the road.

"I've never really been a fanatic on cars - I've always like Corvettes however," he said.