Hidden away in a storage unit in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is a 1972 Corvette convertible: Bryar Blue, white top, 454, four-speed, wearing its original Firestone Wide Oval tires, 100 percent stock and un-wrenched upon, with 967 one-owner miles.
Jim Kevan contacted us after reading Vette’s July 2017 Rare Finds about the 1972 with 3,749 miles discovered in Canada. He had one with many fewer miles, plus Kevan bought his Corvette brand new. How did this happen?
Kevan was 22 years old and single when he made a trip to Grabiak Chevrolet in New Alexandria, Pennsylvania, to order a brand-new 1972 Corvette.
“I was working, but I was still living at home. I met my wife when she was 16 in high school and we were dating. We’re married 43 years now.”
Kevan remembers thinking he better get his Corvette before he started a family and bought a house or he would never get one. The time was right. Kevan was ready to buy the Corvette of his dreams, which would be the hottest in the lineup: a ZR1.
“I talked to my uncle. He set up a meeting. I went out to Grabiak and I told the guy what I wanted, and he said, ‘Son, you don’t want that car.’”
The debate began. On one side was a 22-year-old young man that liked his cars hot. On the other side was one of the owners of Grabiak.
“I say, ‘Well, I drive a GTO and I race it every summer night across the McKeesport Bridge.’ And he says, ‘Son, this is nothing like your GTO.’ He said this car here is a race car. This car is radio delete. It has standard steering. He says you couldn’t handle this car. I said I think you’re wrong. I drag race every night. And he said ‘Son, this is nothing like you are used to,’ and I bought into it. I wasn’t going to argue.”
Instead, Kevan ordered a 454. He knew the emissions had lowered LS5’s horsepower rating to 270 but the potential was there for an easy 425.
Vette purchased, Kevan called his insurance agent at Donegal and was shocked to hear an annual rate of about $1,200, too much after writing a check for $6,200 for the Vette.
“I said are you kidding me? He said you’re 22 years old. You’re not married and you want a Corvette insured? He said if I would wait until I was 25 and married the rate would go down to about $400.”
Kevan garaged his new Vette. He did drive it roundtrip to Grabiak (50 miles each way) four times and drove the car “through the park” a few times.
“All my buddies were saying how could you have a new Corvette sitting in the garage and not drive it? And I said well I had no choice. I couldn’t take a chance. I was in the midst of buying a home. We were getting married and planning a family, and I couldn’t take a chance on driving without insurance, so as much as it killed me, that’s why I ended up putting it in the garage. And then by the time I turned 25 and married, we already had a couple kids and now the Corvette wasn’t a big issue.”
His game plan wasn’t to park the Corvette in his garage for 40 years, but that is what happened.
“I was thinking if I keep that mileage under 1,000, it’s going to be one of a kind. If it goes over 1,000 miles, it’s like the old sale price, $99.99 seems like a bargain compared to $100. That’s why I never put it back on the road again.”
Kevan can’t help but wonder how much a 967-mile ZR1 would be worth, and how much his life would have been different owning that car all these years. He’s gone over that ordering session with Grabiak many times.
“If I would have told him, hey look, this is what I want. I’m willing to pay an extra $1,000. You either order it or I’ll go to another Chevy dealer that will order it. There were 20 of them made in 1972: 20 ZR1 packages. I mean, to be that close to getting one and not getting one, oh man.”
Kevan did get the next best thing, an LS5 454, which he ordered in a convertible in a great color combination.
“It eats me to this day when I see how much fun I could have had driving that car new, but then there’s the other side that says well you still got this car now and you got it with 900 miles.”
Jim Kevan almost surely has the lowest mileage 1972 Corvette on the planet. That’s a big deal in a 454. If the 22-year-old Kevan had been more persistent, the Corvette hobby might have a one-owner 1972 ZR1 with less than 1,000 miles.
Photography by Jerry Heasley