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Corvette Fever in the Gem State: Senator Jim Patrick

Idaho Senator Jim Patrick is a certifiable car guy. Born in Twin Falls, Idaho, and with a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Idaho, Patrick has been a member of the Idaho State Legislature since 2006. He’s a Chevy Corvette man all the way. While he’s owned many ’Vettes, including an ’09, an ’04 and a ’76, he has a special affinity for his ’14, which took eight months to acquire but is in his words “built the best.”

Senator Patrick and his grandson Dustin are regular guests to the annual SEMA Show in Las Vegas. He doesn’t think he’ll ever see the entire trade show, even though he’s given it his best effort. “There’s so much more to it than the cars,” he says. “I’m equally impressed by the vast array of innovative products and project builds and I enjoy meeting the professionals behind them.” He also enjoys the friendships he’s made with other members of the SEMA-supported State Automotive Enthusiast Leadership Caucus.

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This 1974 Mercury Capri was Dave Fitzgerald’s first car and remains his favorite vehicle. “These cars used to be all over the place, but not anymore—they are almost extinct,” he explains. “To say it has been difficult to own and maintain my classic with increasing restrictions from government agencies is an understatement. Fortunately, my Capri is currently exempt from California’s emissions testing requirement, but it wasn’t always that way.”

Dave Fitzgerald has always been interested in the car hobby. He grew up in San Mateo, California, and been a resident of the “bay area” ever since. Now in Napa, he fondly remembers his family’s 1963 Ford Thunderbird growing up, which was packed with the 390 c.i. big block. “What a car—there was chrome everywhere!,” Dave remarks. He would work on the T-Bird as well as a high school buddy’s 1960 Austin-Healy ‘Bugeye’ Sprite. “I could drive the T-Bird every day, not so much the Sprite.” Dave’s current project is refurbishing his grandmother’s 1955 Oldsmobile Holiday. “It has been in the family since it was new. My mom used it in college. Four generations later, my son enjoys driving it.” He says the car’s mechanicals, frontend, engine compartment and underside have all been restored.

The Fitzgerald family has a history with unique cars. In addition to Dave’s rides, he lists his dad’s 1996 Lincoln MVIII, 1990 Geo Storm GSI, 1983 Porsche 944, as well as his brother’s 1991 Nissan 300ZX turbo, among the highlights. The proverbial torch has been successfully passed to the next generation as the family’s youngsters are now into the car hobby. Dave and his oldest son rebuilt and painted a 2-door 1991 Ford Explorer two years ago. “We had a lot of fun with the paint!,” exclaims Fitzgerald. He says all the kids helped by sanding and masking. His fifteen-year-old daughter has decided that a 1967 Fastback Mustang should be her first car. “She doesn’t like the generic, ‘plastic’ designs of today. While she might have set high expectations, she does know how to change her own oil. Not many kids these days do.” The family believes the car hobby has given these children hands-on experience with tools and machinery, innovative solution and problem solving skills, on top of learning the value of one’s own hard work.

Dave has made plans to pass the 1983 Porsche down to his kids but is concerned about its fate on his state’s roads. Acquired from his father, this Porsche was a prime reason he recently responded to the SEMA Action Network’s (SAN) Legislative Alert regarding a bill that would exempt all motor vehicles prior to the 1981 model year from the emissions inspection requirement in California. Current law requires the lifetime testing of all 1976 and newer model-year vehicles. Fitzgerald reached out to the committee of jurisdiction in support of the legislation. “While this proposal wouldn’t include my Porsche, it’s a start in the right direction,” he says. “As it stands now, the car is already 33 years old and will need to undergo SMOG checks forever.” Plus, his high school buddy with the 1960 Sprite is building a 1976 Lotus that would directly benefit from passage of the bill.

As we wait for the bill to be considered, Dave, many thanks to you and your family for keeping our hobby’s flame bright in the Golden State!

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