WEST POINT — As self-proclaimed nerds, a father and son duo are working together to restore and modify a 1977 Corvette.
The two readily admit they do not fit the stereotypical persona of hot-rod buffs.
“What do you expect? Guys with tattoos?” said 21-year-old Jason Tueller, a non-tattoo-clad student currently attending Weber State University. When he and his dad have spare time, they work on the 35-year-old Corvette Jason bought in Idaho a couple of years ago.
They began working on the car shortly after the unexpected death of Jason’s sister, Jessica Tueller, 25, in 2010. Working on the car provided healing for both of them after the difficult loss.
“It was a nice deviation from everything and a time of healing from her death, with lots of nights spent with our arms covered in grease,” said Jason’s father, Shayne Tueller, 53. “But more importantly, it brought Jason and me a lot closer.”
Jason said he spent a lot of time playing video games before starting the car project; he didn’t spend much time with his dad.
But now he sees his dad as a friend.
“He went from my dad as an authority figure, to my friend, someone I can hang out with and do things with,” Jason said.
When Jason first bought the Corvette, he didn’t realize how revered it was in the classic-car world.
“I just thought it was another muscle car,” Jason said.
Thankfully, he didn’t have to pay a fortune for his car.
“They’re cheap if you can do your own work on it,” Jason said.
Cheap is a relative term, though, when it comes to restoring cars. The pair spent the first six months just trying to repair the engine, which required an unexpected flow of cash. So much so, they decided to scrap the original engine and buy another one.
However, that was going to cost $1,500 for labor alone to have a shop put the replacement engine into the Corvette. Instead they put the new engine in themselves, which cost nothing.
Once the engine was in place and the car was running properly, it still needed a lot more work.
“It’s like the project that never ends with time and money,” Jason said. “It’s going to be really weird when it’s all done.”
“I keep telling him that the happiness is in the journey, not the destiny,” said Shayne.
However, the journey hasn’t always been easy, Shayne said.
The lows have included freezing in the winter, having oil dumped on his face, and replacement parts not fitting, Shayne said. On the other hand, he added, the highs far outweigh the lows.
Watching his son’s face the day the engine started up after months of difficult work was a moment Shayne won’t forget.
“Sometimes you have to work hard for things, and the harder you work for it, the sweeter the satisfaction and more you appreciate it,” Shayne said. “It would have been fun to have it run from day one, but Jason wouldn’t have learned this much or appreciated the educational lessons of sticking with it.”
Just a few weeks ago, as he was driving the Corvette — drenched in sweat because he couldn’t roll the windows down — Jason considered selling the car.
“But then I saw nine other people pointing at me (and the car), so I revved the engine, and decided I’d stick with it and keep the car,” Jason said.
Though they look forward to the day the car is done — and admit the project will probably never be finished, for there are always additions and upgrades to make a car faster or better — they said they are enjoying the journey.