Bowling Green Visitors Discover Museum, Donate Corvette
Born and raised in Green Village, New Jersey, renowned illustrator Phillip J. (‘Phil’) Weisgerber studied at the National Academy of Fine Arts and Design in New York, and at the Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles before working in the aerospace industry for TRW (now known as Northrop Grumman) for over 40 years. Phil interpreted TRW products, concepts and programs, not only for company brochures, advertisements, trade show displays and promotions, but his work is also featured in museums, planetariums, NASA, the Pentagon, the Empire State Building and in private collections worldwide. His signature illustrations have graced the pages of a variety of domestic and international magazines. While illustrating was his work and his hobby, Corvette soon became another pastime for the Californian.
According to daughter Paula Weisgerber, Phil always liked Corvettes and had some friends who owned them. He had a particular model he was seeking, and it wasn’t until 1989 that he ended up finding one and buying it. Phil purchased a 1982 Collector Edition Corvette as the second owner, and kept it covered under a carport.
“He liked the look of it, and wanted something different for himself, a sports car,” shared Paula. “It was the only Corvette he ever owned, and he drove it quite a bit, whenever he could, but didn’t take long trips, only leisure use mostly. The car has its original motor and transmission, and everything under the hood is original. The interior is in good condition with the steering wheel being original and seat upholstery being redone. Most recently the car was repainted to its original specs. He absolutely loved his Corvette.”
Paula was only 16 years old when her dad purchased the car, but neither she nor her three siblings drove it. “We all got to go for rides though. The front end is so long, and I couldn’t judge the distance, it made me nervous thinking about driving it. We had a good time riding with dad, though.” Paula laughs remembering her artist dad. “He would take the t-tops off, and his long gray hair would be blowing in the wind.”
Paula shared that while her dad kept the car in good condition, he never entered it in car shows. “He wasn’t out there waxing it and checking it. He just kept it going and kept enjoying it.”
Sadly, Phil passed away in 2017. “We soon discovered it was hard keeping the car going. It would be hard to let it go, but it was harder to take care of it properly.” Paula had asked family members if they wanted the car, or for any ideas as to what to do with it but didn’t get a lot of feedback.
In the summer of 2019, Paula, her husband and kids were visiting family in Bowling Green, just up the street from the Corvette Museum. She had no prior knowledge of the Museum. “I asked my husband’s step-brothers, who we were visiting, about the Museum and then asked if they could check it out. I said they should see if they have a car like my dad’s there. We wanted the car to go to somebody that would appreciate it. I thought I’d send you guys an email and see what you’d say. I was excited to find out you wanted it. Dad would be really happy to know that’s where it ended up.”
The 1982 Corvette was the last model year of the third generation and the first year to be built completely in the new GM Corvette assembly plant in Bowling Green, Kentucky. To honor the 1982 model’s special status, Chevrolet offered a ‘Collector Edition.’ In addition to a higher level of standard features which were optional on base models, the Collector Edition had a lifting rear hatchback glass. This was a Corvette first and the hatch was exclusive to the Collector Edition. It also had special wheels styled to resemble 1967’s ‘bolt on’ optional wheels, unique silver-beige paint, silver-beige leather interior, and special cloisonné emblems. The Collector Edition Hatchback Coupe carried a special code (zero in the sixth digit) in its VIN but didn’t have a separate serial sequence. It was the first Corvette with a base price exceeding $20,000.
“I would think that he would be very happy to know that the National Corvette Museum has his Corvette. I’m excited to stop by and see it. It kind of just happened, but I think it happened for a reason.” Thank you to the Weisgerber family for their generous donation.