BIOGRAPHIES of HENDERSON CO TN

JACK CHEEK

When Lexington's Jack Cheek attends the Corvette 50th Anniversary Celebration, he won't be just a spectator. He was among those who brought the Corvette to life and a place in American automobile history. Cheek returned from the Korean War in 1952 and his brother, Lynn Cheek, got him a job with General Motors. Jack went right into the GM engineering staff in 1953. "The first projectó we didn't know what it was. They didn't tell us," Cheek said. "It was a sports car for Chevy, the Corvette." As a experimental metal and fiberglass model maker, Cheek spent 34 years with GM building prototypes at the GM Tech Center in Warren, Michigan.

He had his hands and ideas involved in the building of a hunting car for executives at Kings' Ranch that had open doors and fenders that would hold rifles. He helped in building a Cadillac convertible for John F. Kennedy "with everything in it." He helped build a car for King Saul of Arabia and numerous show cars for the Motorama and other premiere auto events. "It was always something different," he said. "I never did the same thing." His brother Lynn had started with Lexington Metal in the 50s and Cheek had visited. "I love the town," he said. "I love the people." Cheek left GM during the years 1969-1973 and had the "flower house next to Pafford's," he said. Then, he returned to General Motors and got his job back.

In June 2003 in Nashville, it will be the Corvette creation that will be remembered and celebrated. On June 27 and 28, "Nashville will sing with a choir of engines as the Anniversary Celebration launches full bore," states Corvette Quarterly. "Centrally located in the heart of America and just a short jaunt from Bowling Green and the National Corvette Museum, Nashville provides the perfect backdrop to celebrate and showcase 50 years of a legend. Vehicle displays. Concerts. Engineering talks. Exhibits. Thousands of Corvettes," the magazine announces in the Summer 2002 issue. And Jack Cheek plans to be there to celebrate the birthday. "Now, they're having a 50-year birthday party and they want me up there," he said.

It's a long way from the early days. In 1953, Cheek said 300 white convertible Corvettes were produced with their fiberglass bodies built by hand. Cheek has never owned a 'Vette, but in 1953, he could have bought one for $3,500. Now, they go as high as $70,000. Over 1,300,000 of "America's World-Class Sports Cars" have been sold since those first 300 rolled off a temporary assembly line in Flint, Michigan. From John Wayne taking delivery of Corvette #51 of those first 300 cars to the Corvette roadsters in the Route 66 television series to the 2003 50th Anniversary Corvette edition, Jack Cheek had a hand in American automobile history.

"Lexington Progress - 27 Nov 2002"
Jack Cheek of Lexington spent 34 years with General Motors, helping to develop the first Corvette in 1953. Cheek will attend the Corvette 50th Anniversary Celebration in Nashville next June (2003) to mark the birthday of the 'Vette.

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