A first look at Gregg Wilkinson’s 1995 Corvette often produces a response something like, “I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a Vette like this one.”
That would be because there aren’t any others like this one.
Gregg’s original plan when he found this Fourth Generation of Chevrolet’s iconic “America’s Sports Car” for sale in Mansfield was to use it as a raffle item for the scholarship program sponsored by his No Frills Grill and Sports Bar restaurants.
The price was right, largely due to its condition. Someone with plans to bring it back to life would be the likely buyer, with proceeds going to the unique education program that identifies average students and inspires them to higher achievement.
But then Gregg, who has some 20 vehicles ranging from classic cars to motorcycles and a couple of WWII Jeeps and lots of ways to advance the scholarship initiative, had another idea.
He delivered the car to restoration specialists Al Yetman and Brian Long thinking it could be brought back to its original showroom condition.
Two years later they returned with what you see here – a custom, one-of-a-kind beauty with ground effects, rear spoiler, high-end exhaust upgrades, black chrome rims and street slick Continental racing tires.
The custom paint included continued application of multiple Ruby Red interspersed with clear coats – all wet sanded to enhance the head-turning luster.
Then came the dominating Corvette Logo spread across the hood that is actually the seventh generation version of the iconic symbol that marks the 2014-2019 era.
“It sort of reminds us of the Smokey and the Bandit Pontiac Firebird from the 1977 Burt Reynolds hit movie,” Gregg observes, “and everyone seems to love it. It’s the only symbol that remains on the car’s exterior.”
The 1995 edition of the second-longest-running generation of Corvettes was the next to last in the series that included the 40th anniversary model. A convertible that year was the pace car for the Indianapolis 500, something Corvettes have done 15 times – more than any other vehicle.
When the fourth-generation Corvette was introduced in 1984 it was the first complete redesign of the car since 1963. An interesting side note is how the only surviving prototype was on display at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Ky., and was one of the nine swallowed in the sinkhole that opened up under the museum in 2014.
It remains an attraction along with the others that is now a popular feature for museum visitors to discover.
When production began, new models included features of aluminum brake calipers and an all-aluminum suspension for weight savings and rigidity. The new, one-piece Targa top had no center reinforcement, and a new electronic dashboard with digital LCD displays along with a standard tuned port fuel injection engine ushered in the new era of Vettes some 35 years ago.
All of that and more explains why Gregg wanted to add this one to his Corvette line up that now includes a total of five, ranging from his 1968 Coupe to his newest, a spectacular 2019 Z06 with a Z07 performance package.
However, car collecting is not his only passion. His five restaurants, developed across the past 30 years, located in Arlington, Mansfield, Fort Worth, Keller and Burleson, keep him very busy, as does his involvement in community service throughout the region.
In Arlington he serves on the board of directors of the Arlington Life Shelter, which is currently undergoing a $5 million expansion at its facility on Division Street. He has played a central role in the successful fund-raising program that has made possible the enlargement of the organization’s vital support systems for individuals and families in transition.
Anytime Corvettes are part of the discussion among enthusiasts, there’s often reflection on the beginning when, in 1953, Chevrolet designers had convinced the GM brass to take a chance on a trial sports model that could compete with imports finding popularity with American car buyers.
Gregg Wilkinson is part of that culture now enjoying a legacy spanning more than 65 years of phenomenal success.