From Refurbishing Century Homes Or Buying Antique Cars, Jim Hope Continues The Passion For ‘Old Things’
When he’s not refurbishing century homes and preserving our heritage in the Orangeville area, Jim Hope can be found behind the wheel of his 1959 Corvette, a vintage automobile which you will often see him sharing the front seat with his trusty canine, Chester.
Jim, you could say is enjoying the ride so to speak, with this classic treasure and surprisingly without the intervention of fate, he actually came very close to not having this antique car at all, as there’s a bit of a story that I will let him tell.
“Honestly, I really didn’t want to buy a Corvette at first, but what actually happened was that I had owned a ’57 T-Bird that I really loved and after some time, I ended up selling it in order to put a pool in for my kids when they were young. Fast forward to a couple of years ago and I had been looking for a Three-Window Coupe, but I couldn’t find one that I liked or that was available for what I believed to be a decent price. One day though, I was working at a job site and Jimmy my son mentioned that he had a friend in Chatsworth that restored antique cars and had a ‘59 Corvette for sale and maybe we could go and take a look at it. Right away I said that I wasn’t interested in buying a Corvette, but Jimmy bugged me enough for about three days that I finally relented and together we went to Chatsworth and looked at the car. To be honest, it wasn’t that bad looking, so I made a ‘take it or leave it’ offer and the seller basically ‘left it’. (laughs) I can say though that I really wasn’t disappointed that I didn’t end up with the car, but a couple of weeks later, Jimmy found out that someone had put an offer on the Corvette and then shortly after had purchased it. Again, I wasn’t too upset about it, as I really didn’t want the Corvette in the first place, but as fate would have it though, a short time later I got a call from the person in Chatsworth who had the Corvette and he said that the buyer had backed out on him and did I want the car for the price I had offered him in the first place. Long story short, I ended up buying the Corvette and it’s funny, I like the Corvette better now than a Three-Window Coupe.”
Jim says that he bought the classic car during COVID and has had a couple of years now to take it on the local roads in the Orangeville area and from a cosmetic standpoint, a good portion of the Corvette is in its ‘original’ state which he believes is the appeal behind an older car. From what he understands, the engine has been rebuilt and admits that there possibly is other work to be done, but since the Corvette was bought purely for his own enjoyment, there is no plan to spend a huge sum of money restoring it. “You don’t buy a car like this to try and make money with it, instead, I will look after the necessities and just enjoy the ride so to speak. I spent a lot of money restoring my ‘57-T-Bird and when I went and sold it, I don’t think that I ever really recouped that money back.”
Why the infatuation with old cars?
“I just seem to like them for some reason and if people read the article in the Spring edition of ‘LivingSpaces & Life Styles’, you know that my business does plenty of historical restorations to houses and buildings in the area, so maybe you could say that I have a lot of ‘old school’ in me!” (Laughs) But seriously, I have always had this liking for old things-houses, buildings, cars and I really don’t know where this love comes from.” On a positive note, this fondness and appreciation has allowed Jim to parlay into a very successful career as principal of the family business of Jas. F. Hope Construction Limited.
So Jim, you have owned a ‘57-T-Bird and now own a ‘59 Corvette and you seem to have a penchant for old cars, but why the concentration on these types of vintage models?
“I believe it all comes down to the look and the style of the car, as the manufacturers back then made these cars look very appealing, or as I like to say, looking very ‘cool’. These antique autos came with more chrome and they were not necessarily as aerodynamic which is how today’s cars are designed. It’s very similar to the old vintage houses that we restore now, as they were made with all of these courvilles and cornish blocks and the builders actually spent extra time dressing the houses up back then, which is something that in most cases, isn’t done today. ”
Finally, Jim can you see a time down the road, pardon the pun, where you may relent and perhaps do some restorations on your ’59 Corvette for the purpose of eventually selling it?
“No, this car is a keeper and I’m really going to enjoy it, in fact my kids have already asked for it in my will (laughs). I don’t think that I will ever get rid of this car, instead I will probably pass it down to one of the kids, as I have three boys and two of them have already expressed an interest in the Corvette. I do know though that as I mentioned earlier, I’m not planning on spending a lot of money on restoration, I will do what’s needed and focus on enjoying it.”
WRITTEN BY: LARRY SIMPSON | PHOTOS: CORY BRUYEA | RESOURCES: JIM HOPE, JAS F. HOPE CONSTRUCTION