Brian Murray was very excited when a friend told him about an old Corvette parked in a barn since the early 1970s. “Larry works for me. A guy he goes to church with was telling him about a guy that was gonna get rid of an old Corvette.”
Larry knew Murray collects and restores Corvettes and wanted to help him out. Murray is a Vette subscriber and reads this column. One of his dreams was to find an old Corvette in a barn. “I called him (the owner) and set up a time to look at the car.”
Murray lives in Romeo, Michigan, and the Corvette, which is a 1963 convertible, had been stored in a barn for the last 45 years outside the little town of Ellington, Michigan.
“I figured, you know, it’d be in pretty rough shape. He gave me this address and directions,” which led Murray on an hour or so drive “way back out on a dirt road, and about a half-mile off the road, down a two-track.”
The further he got into the country, the more Murray figured the car would be a basket case. To his surprise, the barn wasn’t a typical barn on the plains of Michigan. The owner, a man named Vince, was waiting outside when Murray drove up.
“When I walked in there (the barn) I said, ‘oh, this thing is not actually a barn.’ I mean it was a barn, but it was heated and clean.” The 1963 convertible was covered with a layer of dust. Murray could see the body was “immaculate.” The Riverside Red lacquer was faded, but original.
“He (Vince) said he bought the Corvette from the original owner in 1964. His wife drove it until the early 1970s when he decided to take it apart and restore it. Then, they started having kids and he said he never got around to it. So, there it sat.”
Vince had long ago pulled the engine, a numbers-matching 340-horse 327 and took the body off the frame, which Murray said was solid with no rust and the matching VIN stamp. Behind the 327 was the original four-speed, also numbers-matching, ditto for the rearend.
Inside, the red-vinyl bucket seats and door panels were in pretty good condition, same for the door panels. The carpet was faded. The bright trim on the moldings and windshield were “beautiful and in perfect shape.”
The body was in excellent condition with no stress cracks. One of the rear bumpers was “a little rotted out” on the bottom. The chrome, Murray speculates, must have chipped off and then rust invaded. Murray plans to take the car to his paint guy once he cleans it up to see if the Riverside Red can be “wheeled out.”
Murray restores Corvettes as a hobby, so this barn find, being apart, was right up his alley. He could see the 1963 Corvette was complete.
“I asked him what he wanted for it, and he told me.” Murray prefers not to reveal the dollar figure he paid but admits the price was a very good one.
Currently, Murray is finishing up the restoration of a ’75 Corvette. The 1963 is next. “I got the engine being done right now. I took the frame over, had it blasted and I’m getting that painted. I’ll probably start working on the 1963 here in the fall.” Vette
Photos by Jerry Heasley