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Alan & Sharon Johnson’s '94 Convertible

Their Nationwide Hunt Paid Off With This ’94 Copper “Gold Mine”

Ronnie Hartman Jul 1, 2001

Step By Step

Restaurateur Alan Johnson knew when he got a ride in a friend’s Corvette on his fifth birthday that he’d own one someday. He had a ’68 convertible in college, and his wife Sharon had owned a ’73 coupe since high school, but the craving for a Corvette right off the line wasn’t pacified. Then in 1994, Alan saw a TV commercial for a local dealership that showed a Copper Metallic convertible in the background. He had to have one like that! He and Sharon hot-footed it down to the dealership, only to learn that the copper car had been sold and the color discontinued after just three days of production because of problems with the paint. Availability was very limited—only 24 copper convertibles had been produced! GM had retained ownership of one convertible and a lone copper ZR-1. A computer check showed that 22 others had been sold, leaving only one copper convertible unaccounted for.

They searched dealerships around the country, even driving hundreds of miles to Georgia when a dealer there said he had it. He’d lied in hopes of selling them a Corvette in a different color.

Disappointed and frustrated, they decided while on vacation in Fort Myers, Florida, to order an Admiral Blue convertible instead—right now. They stopped at a dealership, but as the salesman typed in the specs, they decided to try one more time. Was there a copper one available? As the information came up on the screen, the salesman smiled and said, “I don’t have to look for the copper…someone changed the description of this car to Admiral Blue with gray interior, but the codes say it’s a copper convertible with a light beige interior!”

The missing copper! And it was in Miami! They were thrilled. They told the salesman to write up the sale immediately.

Just after taking the receipt for payment, the boom fell. “Uh, we can’t seem to locate the Corvette on the Miami lot.” Three days later, the Miami dealership located paperwork indicating that a LoJack system had been installed on the copper Corvette. The dealership contacted the police and traced the car by satellite—to a building at the rear of the dealership! It was found buried under tarps behind some equipment. A salesman had changed the codes and hidden the car so he could buy it himself when he was ready. Presuming he was able to find another job, he may have pursued another Corvette later.

The fourth day after they’d paid for it, this special Corvette was delivered to the Fort Myers dealership, just in time to attend the Grand Opening of the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green. Alan and Sharon have made several more trips to the Museum, and drive their prize to shows, on vacations, and often just for pleasure. They’ve kept the ’94 bone stock. This nightmare had a fairy-tale ending, and the Johnsons say they’ll never part with their copper “Gold Mine.”

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