In the last issue we introduced you to Jim Paine of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, who had walked away from a dealership in Columbus, Ohio with an original-owner ’68 427 Corvette. But, his chase wasn’t over. The same salesman who sold him the ’68 knew of another vintage Vette that might be for sale. Paine is not a dealer, but he is constantly asking about Corvette deals.
“I said, ‘Do you know of any other Corvettes for sale?’ To which he replied, ‘You know what? I do.’ He told me it was a ’56 that a widow owns and that her husband died three or four years ago. Since then it just sat in the garage.” Paine knew better than to get overly excited since most of the time these leads turn into dead ends. When he learned the original mileage was supposed to be 16,000, Paine was even less optimistic, but no less excited about what he might find at the end of this chase.
The trail grew a little colder when the salesman said he couldn’t get a hold of the lady that day. Paine would have to come back another day and he lived three hours away. However, Paine knew better than to try to rush or get overanxious to buy a car, which might not even exist. He drove back home and waited for a call. Two days later Paine was enthused to answer a return call on the car and hear the words, “She’s going to meet us tomorrow. Get on out here.”
“My son Jake and I jumped in the car and drove three hours to Columbus.” He followed the salesman on a 10-minute drive to a beautiful home in a country club neighborhood on a golf course. The owner was a “lovely 75-year-old woman” who punched the door opener on her three-car garage to reveal a cover over a car about the size of a C1 Corvette. When she pulled back the cover, Paine couldn’t believe what he saw. Incredibly, the lady uncovered a pristine Polo White Vette with a silver cove and a red interior. The ’56 convertible looked original and true to its 16,000-mile odometer reading. The more Paine and Jake looked at the car, the more they realized they had uncovered a real gem.
Even the paint, incredibly, was original. The old lacquer was “checked” on the bottom of the body and in other areas. But, the body had never been repainted. Inside, Paine noticed an automatic transmission shifter, Wonderbar radio, and courtesy lights. Under the hood Paine spotted dual fours on the 225-horsepower 265ci small-block, backed by a two-speed Powerglide. Although the car had no paperwork, the unmolested condition backed up the originality. Paine said, “If this car had been restored, you could be fooled. That’s what is so beautiful about an unmolested car.”
“She asked me if I wanted to drive it.” The brake pedal went to the floor, so Paine said no. They did connect the battery and fired up the 265. Paine backed the car out of the garage into the driveway. He used the emergency brake to stop.
Right there in the lady’s driveway, Paine checked the engine and the carburetors. Everything was original and unrestored. “The engine? The numbers are correct. It’s the correct date code. Both four-barrel carburetors are date-coded and they are the right carburetors, same for distributor, transmission, and rearend.”
Paine was eager to pay the asking price. This was his dream Corvette. “She could not believe I was going to buy a car without driving it.” Paine was more interested in the car’s provenance. The lady recalled her husband purchasing the ’56 in the late 1950s from a neighbor when they lived in Pompano Beach, Florida. The neighbor bought the car from a dealer in Canada. The lady was ready to sell. In fact, she was anxious for Jim to pick up the car to give her space in her garage for the delivery of lumber for crown molding in her home. Paine doesn’t want to reveal the asking price, except to say it was “the buy of a lifetime” and he plans to keep this Vette forever.
Do you have a Rare Find story or lead to share? Contact Jerry Heasley at firstname.lastname@example.org.