Canada Day block party features fully restored ’72 Corvette

COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, July 6, 2017

Nicole Warkentin sits behind the wheel of her ’72 Corvette Stingray, refinished by Paron Rod & Customs team seen here, as treat from her partner, Curtis Garrell, at their West Moore Place cul-de-sac’s 17th annual Canada Day block party. Photos by Warren Harbeck

For the past 17 years Curtis Garrell and his West Moore Place neighbours have held a Canada Day block party. This year’s, along with great food and the music of the Reminiscing Reeds and the Smoking Aces Blues bands, featured a 1972 Corvette Stingray.

Cochrane folks know Curtis as the cheerful heavy-equipment operator with the Town of Cochrane who, as a former chef, created and markets the tasty Curtis’ Seasoning salt, fantastic on corn on the cob.

But there are three parts of his life I was not familiar with until just recently: his passion for sports photography, classic cars, and Nicole Warkentin – and they’re connected.

It was 23 years ago while a freelance sports photographer that he met Nicole, he told me, “and we’re still happily dating!” That’s where the Corvette enters the picture. Ten years ago a ’72 Corvette caught Nicole’s eye, and wanting to do something nice for her, Curtis bought her one.

“I thought it would be a quick project to fix up,” he said. The reality was quite another matter. After he spent several years replacing frame, engine, and other essentials, all that remained was to treat the original black body to a new paintjob.

The time for the Canada Day surprise had finally arrived. To the gasps of all those gathered for the block party – including visiting classic-car buffs who were showcasing their own pride-and-joys on Curtis’s lawn –  the team from Curtis’s neighbour Dennis Paron’s company, Paron Rod & Customs, Airdrie, drove up in Nicole’s sparkling pearl-blue Corvette. Nicole removed the blindfold Curtis had placed on her, and she gasped, too.

Yes, that particular blue was her choice. But she hadn’t seen the car since before it went into the shop wearing only a lifeless undercoat. The results were better than she could have hoped for. The finish made the chrome wheels and bumpers dazzle, and because that model year was the last for chrome bumpers both front and back, that was especially delightful.

But as they say, a picture’s worth a thousand words. So I’ll let you decide for yourselves whether the fully restored ’72 Corvette Stingray is worthy of a gasp or two.


© 2017 Warren Harbeck

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