#0 - the original prototype

    John & Kathleen Thomas - Rochester Hills, Michigan

      As with most passions, my love for Corvettes began at a very early age.   In 1954 when only eight, I was immediately drawn to this new car I saw while passing this exclusive private country club near my home in Chicago.   Of course I knew very well that although the country club was near my home I could only dream of such a lifestyle.   I did make a promise that someday/somehow I would obtain such a lifesytyle and, most importantly, that unbelievable white '53 Corvette.

      Well, in 1999 I decided it was time to fulfull my lifetime dream.   I was an executive with the world's largest niche vehicle producer, Magna Steyr.   It also was quickly approaching Corvette's 50th anniverary -- a feat most vehicles could never dream of attaining.   So I came up with this crazy idea of combining the styling cues of the original '53 with all the technology of the C5.   I assigned this most challenging task to our chief stylist Bill Miller who initially thougt it to be impossible.   But, after further discussions and one very inspired weekend, Bill did a marvelous job to say the least.   We then commissioned Steve Pasteiner and his talented team at AAT to execute our design.   Steve and his staff did their magic and we were on our way.   Of course our original intent was for Magna to engineer and build the vehicles in conjunction with GM.   Several very good reasons (not the least of which was timing) precluded that from happening.   However, AAT felt it was good idea and chose to go forward on their own.   The rest, as they say, is history.

      Since its first public introduction in Albuquerque, New Mexicao at the 75th Anniversary of the opening of Route 66 in July 2001, it has been a non-stop explosion of magazine articles and appearance requests.   Of course, I'm not telling you who own one already that which you don't also experience every time you take yours out of its hiding place!

      The two greatest joys I have experienced is meeting the new owners of the Commemorative Edition vehicles and the trip my wife and I personally took last summer on old Route 66 with our original prototype/concept car.   The following are but a few of the almost 800 photos taken by my wife Kathleen.   Enjoy!

      I guess it wasn't such a crazy idea after all!

      Vette Wishes,

      John Thomas & Kathleen (Co-pilot/map reader)

      In front of Shell restored gas station near Kalamazoo, MI
      (Gilmore's Auto Museum)

      Tooling down Route 66 with original telephone poles along railroad tracks in Illinois

      Rocket Man advertisement in Wilmington, IL along Route 66 (John's mother's birthplace)

      Restored station along Old Route 66 in Campus, IL, just south of Chicago

      Another restored gas station in Dwight, IL.  John LOVES petroliana and gas stations
      ...  can you tell ...  we stopped at every station on Route 66.   I'm not kidding!

      Missouri..stopped by blaring sirens and flashing lights...the police officer
      thought I was speeding in my NEW1953; however, I think he just wanted to see
      the car.   I sent him photos when we returned home.

      Posing with John on the side of the highway in Missouri

      Midpoint on Route 65: Adrian, Texas ...  great food!

      An abandoned Whiting Gas Station outside of Albuquerque, New Mexico

      Parading through the desert outside of Albuquerque with a classic car show gathering

      A nearby town (on their part of Route 66) asked all the classic cars in
      their town for a spontaneous picnic in their park.

      Two 53CEs meet nose-to-nose in the car show in Old Town, Albuquerque.
      The other? Charlie Daniels' #2

      John's car, top-up ...  Albuquerqe LOVED the CEs!

      One night we gathered at Tumblweed's to start the NEON Parade down Old Route 66
      thirty miles into Albuquerque's NEON light district.   We were led into town by eight
      police squad cars, about 100 cars behind us...  it was amazing! We stopped all traffic
      and mouths dropped.

      Parading with our fuzzy dice hanging...  we followed the police into town.

      Stopped by a group of soldiers who posed for photos with NEW1953

      On our way back to Michigan we found a classic 50's car show at B-Bops near Cedar Rapids, Iowa

        The people we met along the way were the best part of our trip with our NEW1953!

      Watch this space!