His & Her’s: Leola’s C2 & Bob’s Chevrolet COE

There’s a whole subset of the automotive community that is vehemently opposed to any vehicle that travels via trailer or tow. These often vocal individuals feel that anything worth owning is worth driving and if you pull it you are missing half the fun that comes with owning a classic.

In the case of Bob and Leola ‘Lee’ Klosterbuer hauling is exactly half the fun because their tow rig just so happens to be a classic itself; an immaculate ’48 Chevy COE, and their flat bed mounted passenger is an equally magnificent ’64 Corvette that accounts for the other half of the fun.

Make no mistake this matching combo turns heads and when we saw it on the Mid America Motorworks grounds during 2015 Corvette Funfest we begged Bob and Leola to tell us the details about this killer one-two punch combination of polished American metal.

The Corvette belongs to Lee, and is Bob’s delivery on a promise he made to her in 2002 when Lee sold the ’65 Corvette she had owned 24 and a half years to fund the construction of her dream kitchen. After nearly two and a half decades behind the wheel of America’s favorite sports car Lee knew her next Corvette had to have three very distinct features; an ice cold A/C, an automatic transmission, and power steering.

As any married man will tell you a happy wife is a happy life, so it was Bob’s job to deliver on not just the car but those three requirements as well.

Finding a mid year C2 that ticked off all those boxes –without Bob having to sell something of his own– proved to be a bit of a task and finding one close to their Rock Rapids Iowa home proved more difficult still. However Bob, who was previously both a farmer and an auto-body man, wasn’t afraid of a little hard work and kept looking, eventually finding one in the neighboring city of Brookings.

The car was a barn find in the sense that it was in a chicken coop for a decade, but it wasn’t as immaculate as many a barn find is purported to be. Both corners of the front end had been dinged up, the factory hard top was a mess, and the original soft top was no better. However the car was able to drive itself onto a trailer after roaring to life with little more than a new battery and fresh gas.

All the years Bob had spent pushing a sanding block and wielding a paint gun meant he was more than up to the task of performing the restoration needed to remove the memories left behind from this vehicles previous life as a bumper car. The chicken coop did offer some protection from the elements which meant Bob was able to leave the body on for this restoration rather than going the frame-off route.

Factory fresh was Lee’s vision –why mess with perfection she argues– so visually the car looks just as it would when it rolled off the factory floor in 1964.

The 327ci V8 in the car when Bob and Lee took it home was numbers matching so it was retained, rebuilt and repainted before being bolted back to the Powerglide transmission that was one of Lee’s no compromise requirements. Most of what you find under the hood of this car is factory ’64 except for the carburetor which was replaced with an Edelbrock four barrel after four separate instances of the factory carb failing due to vapor lock.

The motor sends power through the aforementioned mandatory Powerglide automatic transmission to a ’66 3:08 posi gear set inside of the original ’64 diff housing.

From there not a nut was left un-turned as Bob performed all the maintenance necessary to a vehicle left to sit for ten years. During the tune up Bob also re did a few of the previous owners “repairs” along the way. A Vintage Air air conditioning unit was added and the car has retained its original white on tan color combination.

Of course the interior has been thoroughly refurbished and the bright-work shines as though new.

The Corvette alone is a worthy addition to any classic car loving family but Lee wasn’t the only one left with remorse over a vehicle they had previously parted ways with. Years before the kitchen renovation that prompted Lee’s sale Bob sold his 1950 COE, so when he saw one for sale at a “Back to the ’50s” event in 2008 he tried to buy it on the spot.

Unfortunately that truck had been sold, but all wasn’t lost as the owner actually had another for sale, the second one having the added bonus of coming with another cab.

COE restorations are figuratively and literally a massive undertaking, and in addition to already having his sleeves rolled up to complete the C2 Bob was on the mend from a quadruple by pass heart surgery. We’re car guys not Doctors, but we are pretty sure that lifting a COE cab off the frame doesn’t fall under rest and recuperation. Bob’s condition, and commitment to finish the Corvette, meant the lion’s share of the work on the truck rebuild was left to the hands of Rob’s neighbors Scott Lens (painter) and Don Garreston (body man).

Like Lee, Bob wanted an automatic for his truck, specifically an Allisston, and so the truck would be more than up to the task of pulling a Corvette Bob also wanted a 8.1-liter GM motor in front of the auto transmission. Interestingly enough that exact Alliston/8.1-liter combination can be found in 2003 GMC fleet trucks so that’s what Bob, Scott, and Don set out to find as a donor chassis. In their case an ice cream truck wound up as the perfect candidate donor.

Once the ice cream truck had found a new home the trio realized that the chassis they just purchased was a fair deal wider than the cab, fifteen whole inches wider to be exact. But Bob did just happen to have that extra cab so three years of cutting, welding, and smoothing later the cab was widened to fit the frame in a way that looked natural.

No minuscule task, and one that is noticeable once you are aware of it, but disguised well enough that you don’t see it at first glance.

The interior now in the truck is one suitable for a long hauler containing all the bells and whistles of a modern vehicle; a leather dash, AM/FM/CD player, modern gauges, and controls for a vehicle loading system that we’ll touch on in just a minute, oh and yes like Lee’s Corvette the air conditioning in this truck blows ice cold!

Providing a home for the Corvette on trips to shows is a bed made of wood shipped in from Erwin Bonestroo in Steen Minnesota. Diamond plate is what is usually found on these beds but Bob and Lee were not going for ‘usual’, the Corvette looked stellar so it needed to ride on a bed that looked equally stellar. Underneath the wood Don built a custom hydraulically controlled carrier. This carrier means that the ’50 can carry just about any car no matter how high or how low. The adjustment of the carrier is controlled in cab and by a remote control that can also be operated outside of the vehicle.

Finally the truck was sprayed Ermine white to match the Corvette, and like its little sister the bright-work was refinished to a proper luster, including the custom bumper, and custom grill which were needed because the factory components were also 15-inches too narrow.

Even the fiercest of trailer opposition would tip their hat to Bob and Lee because their combination is one of the most killer his and hers pairs we’ve ever come across.

We’re not the only ones that think that either, this pair of GM vehicles has earned a healthy number of accolades including several “Best of Show” honors in both truck and car classes, and to think this whole journey started with Lee just needed a little bit more space to prepare Sunday dinner!

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