Efforts to finish Joplin’s photo op stop at the Route 66 Mural Park revved up on Friday with the installation of a 1964 Corvette — or more correctly a prop of one.
“It’s actually a dragster shell,” modified to resemble the classic American sports car, said Patrick Tuttle, Joplin’s Convention and Visitors Bureau director. And it’s not a whole one. “They only made half of it,” to give the impression of the car sailing down the historic Mother Road, but to fit against the mural wall and into the size of the park.
The model was made by Four State Trucks — which advertises as the “Chrome Shop Mafia.” Tires and wheels for the replica were donated by Steve’s Frame and Body Shop, Tuttle said.
Artists for Images in Tile, which produced two tile murals that were installed on the side of the Pearl Bros. True Value Hardware store at 617 S. Main St., envisioned the prop as a place for visitors to take photographs. The location is near the intersection of Seventh and Main streets. The route once ran south on Main to Seventh and then west on Seventh to Kansas.
Workers with Dalton-Killinger Construction Co. installed the auto replica on Friday morning, working in 25 degree weather with a biting wind chill that made it seem about 10 degrees colder.
“We developed the concept two years ago and having it finally come together is fantastic,” said Paul Whitehill of Images in Tile, a local business that creates murals on ceramic tile. “We still have a few finishing touches, but getting the car in here is really exciting.”
There is to be the likeness of a 45 record installed in the park to designate a good spot to snap a shot of the murals. That record is, of course, to be labeled for Bobby Troupe’s hit song about the famous highway,“Get Your Kicks on Route 66.”
More lighting also to be installed in the tile floor of the park that will cast a colorful glow of dancing lights on the wall at night next to the murals.
Tuttle said the work is expected to be finished by early February, weather permitting, and a dedication ceremony of the park will be scheduled then.
Joplin architect Chad Greer designed the park’s concourse. He said that will finish the park in time for the migration of European tourists who come to travel Route 66, which begins in March.
The Joplin City Council authorized the Convention and Visitors Bureau to spend $160,000 for construction of the park and to make a $10,000 donation to the murals. The remaining cost of the murals was funded by donations.
The murals were installed in time for last year’s Route 66 International Festival held Aug. 1-3.
Another Route 66 mural was installed in Galena, Kan., at the intersection of Seventh and Main streets. That mural was donated by Galena businessman Brian Jordan.