Greg Ornazian is just one of the many hobbyists who purchased a Corvette at the '04 Bloomington Gold Rush Auction held by Mecum. He bought this gleaming Polo White '55 Corvette with a 265ci V-8 and a Powerglide automatic transmission.
Greg's decision to buy the Corvette was made easier by his familiarity with it. "This car was Gold Certified years ago when it was owned by Tim Partridge, who is an old friend of mine," he says. "I wanted a '53, a '54, or a '55, and I was born in 1955, so that was part of the reason I chose it."
While the car was in excellent condition when it rolled off the block, Greg found plenty of ways to make improvements. He refit and resealed the windshield, repaired a tear on the seat, refit the seat upholstery, acquired a vintage '55 Michigan plate for the rear bubble, replaced the wipers with correct 1111/44-inch units, and detailed the engine.
"I'm a fanatic when it comes to fit," he says. "The body fit sold me on this car. Old cars were primitive, and a lot of body panels didn't fit. But the painter did a good job on this car because everything opens and closes right. Plus the car starts and drives well."
The Polo White exterior was recently applied by Hoosier Hot Rods as part of Mike Tiltgis' effort to get the car ready for auction. "The car was painted in 1987 or 1988 and it was done in lacquer, which was required by Bloomington Gold at that time," Greg says. "But this is a basecoat/clearcoat, which is another reason I liked it."
The '55 is one of six Corvettes in Greg's collection, joining a '68 L88, an '89 Challenge car, a '69 435, a '64 Z06, and the recently acquired '61 Sebring racer. But he's not only into the classics. An '05 Z06 is on order as well.
Greg Ornazian purchased this '55 Corvette at the Mecum auction during the '04 Bloomington Gold show. We asked him to describe the experience.
CF: Did you go to Bloomington Gold planning to buy this car?
Greg: Not at all. I came to the show to sell the '62 that had received Bloomington Gold the year before. Within about 10 minutes [of arriving], the car was sold. Then I sold most of my swap-space stuff, so I was just strolling around with money burning a hole in my pocket and happened to see it.
CF: What attracted you to it?
Greg: There were only 700 of them produced, and maybe half of those are still around. Plus, I'd rather have a V-8 than a V-6. A collector might rather have a '53, but I think the '55 has more integrity and is a better value.
CF: What was the action like when the auction began?
Greg: A lot of people were trying to buy the car direct before the auction, but the seller decided to run it through. The bidding started at 50 [thousand] and went up. There were about half a dozen people bidding.
CF: Was it nerve-wracking?
Greg: I'm somewhat experienced at this, but sure, there's excitement. Your heart's pounding. It's an adrenaline rush.