Corvette enthusiasm often starts years before ownership. So it was with Jim Gessner’s first job in 1957 at Bud’s Esso service station in New Jersey. A customer with a black 1957 fuel-injected Corvette showed young Jim how to fuel the car without spilling fuel down the side, and how to gently lift the hood without damage.
Since 1969, he has owned over 400 cars, including 70 Corvettes, but Jim’s memory of that ‘57, the unique sound of its solid lifter engine, and the owner’s trust, never left.
A few of Jim's cars are in photos to the left. His first Corvette, a 65 blue coupe, that was non original, but he liked it.
The 57 red fuel injection convertible he and his wife Dee restored in Big Bear Lake, California in 1978-82 was a great original example found in Long Beach, CA. Vin number #3537, was sold in 1984 and found in Minnesota in 2013 after a recent purchase by a collector. He found Jim's old business card taped behind the kick panel. If these cars could only talk.
Jim has been a member of numerous Corvette Clubs. In 1981 he started the Southern California NCRS chapter with forty-three other charter members, and served on the National Corvette Restorers Society’s National Board of Directors, as its National Activities Director.
He and Ed Carole created the “California Gold and Legend'' Swap and Show All Corvette Meet held from 1985 to 1989 in Palm Springs, California
One of Jim's best street cars was this rare 1965 fuel injection coupe. Black with white interior, factory knock off wheels, PB, PA, PW, full tint, off road exhaust, teak wheel. It was judged the first NCRS DUNTOV winner in the C-2 class in 1985, at the NCRS NATIONAL CONVENTION in Danvers, Mass.
Impressive yes, but Jim’s lasting impact will be his special interest in Corvette race cars, sparked by the 1964 B/P fuel-injected Corvette road racer that he found in 1985 at a swap meet. He restored it over the next 4 years and drove at Laguna Seca, Riverside, Sears Point, Willow Springs, and San Diego Stadium.
In 1987 and 2002, GM’s 75th and Corvette's 50th birthdays, Jim assisted Steve Earle, founder of the Monterey Historic Races, by locating key Corvette race cars, owners and drivers. He also assisted the PEBBLE BEACH CONCOUR in finding 1953-1968 significant cars to be placed on the putting green above the LODGE and show.
Jim has often been called a Corvette Historian by fellow enthusiasts as his knowledge of the cars life is vast.
His 1964 B/P Race car was born with the 375hp fuel injection 327 engine when new. The car was stolen from the original owner and when recovered minus FI unit and other parts, the insurance company sold it to its new racer owner Paul Baity. It began life in 1965 racing SCCA Cal Club road races in Southern California. Author Tom Cotter owns the car today and continues vintage racing it in the at SVRA events at Lime Rock, VIR, Watkins Glen and other east coast events.