The classic saying, "They don't make 'em like they used to," seems to apply to Robert and Ginger Collyard's '72 Stingray. The reason is, they've tallied up more than a quarter-million miles over the span of 31 years.
What Robert's Corvette offers is a lifetime of long mileage, enduring road trips, and endless memories. He says, "When we bought the car in 1973, it cost us $5,100. After I bought it in Texas, I traveled to Denver for one hockey season, then went to Philadelphia for [another] season. After that in 1975, it never left Minnesota and was put away during the winter. Since then, it's been a daily driver for five to six months out of the year. In 1980, it turned 100,000 miles. We've always considered this car an ongoing restoration."
After pushing the little 350 small-block as far as he could, Robert decided it was time to give his old workhorse the makeover it deserved. The engine was refreshed to stock factory specs as Robert personally handled the interior. Rich, dark-saddle covers were stretched over the interior, bringing deep warmth to the cabin. Factory-matching Elkhart Green coated the lightweight fiberglass body. Bill Hodges of Hibbing, Minnesota, applied the many layers of primer and color to the Corvette, finishing with the mile-deep green shine to the body.
With regard to the restoration, Robert says, "In 2000, our youngest left for college and we decided to do some major restoring (hopefully for the last time). We had the engine rebuilt once again. We left for Montana that summer and ended up staying over two days longer in Great Falls while we had the transmission rebuilt. In 2002, we then focused on the exterior. We had it repainted again, both bumpers re-chromed, a new luggage rack installed, and all other chrome parts replaced. We had the air conditioning replaced (after learning our lesson in 112 degrees coming home from the Black Hills Classic with no air). In addition, we had the carpeting replaced again (by someone else because we're too old to get around in that small interior anymore). Also, an aluminum radiator was installed."
After the restoration was complete, Robert and Ginger displayed their car for the first time at Bloomington Gold in 1997. Since then, they have frequented the Black Hills Corvette Classic as much as possible. But what about all the miles, you ask? Robert admits that long travel does take its toll on an old car. With the love and care Robert and Ginger have put into this Stingray, they hope to enjoy it for another 30 years. The Corvette has suffered through two engine rebuilds and scattered its original transmission on the Continental Divide in Montana.
Even after all that, we think it's a survivor in its own right-maybe not without harm, but surviving the test of use and wear. That makes it tougher than anything else. This Corvette is truly a driver.