1973 Motion Manta Ray Corvette - The Motion Corvette Phenomena

The Pinnacle Of Corvette Exotics And The Last Of A Nearly Extinct Supercar Species

Tom Shaw Apr 2, 2008 0 Comment(s)
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The dealer thought it over and tossed out his offer: $6,749. Rayburn thought he could fluff it up and maybe make a dollar, so he agreed to buy it. "That afternoon I went to pick it up. It was sitting full of water up to the top of the rocker panels, water in the seats, and the car was just white inside with mold. It had sat out in the weather, and the paint had cracked, and it wouldn't start," He recalls.

Rayburn bought a new battery, emptied the water, put plastic on the seats so he could sit on them, then got the tired car started and limped it home. A friend at his body shop saw the sorry state it was in and told Rayburn he should take it back and demand a refund. Rayburn was none too happy, but felt that a deal is a deal, even if it's a bad one.

"I heard later that the rumor around town was the dealer was laughing at me because he had ripped me off," Rayburn says. But the car had landed in the right hands and was now on the rebound. He cleaned and dried the interior, refurbed the seats, then did some wet sanding, and was able to salvage the paint job. After buffing, it looked good.

"My nephew, a devoted gearhead, has kept every magazine he ever bought, and he said, 'Motion is ringing a bell in my head.' So he goes home and starts looking through his old magazines and finds pictures of Motion cars and Joel Rosen and all that, and asks me if I think it's a Motion car. I told him, I don't think so. It's a custom car from California. Later, I thought it could be, but to me it was no big deal whether it was from New York or California."

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Rayburn continued to learn about his Corvette and the heritage of Motion Performance in New York. An issue of the Dupont Registry had a feature on Joel Rosen and one of his Motion Corvettes, and mentioned that he would be displaying the vintage car at an upcoming '93 Bloomington Gold event. Rayburn went, found the yellow Motion car on display, and began comparing the two. When Joel Rosen walked up, Rayburn mentioned that he thought he might have a Motion car and handed Joel some photos.

"He said, 'You don't know what you've got, do you?'

"I said, No sir, I sure don't.

"He said, 'You don't know anything about Motion?'

"I said, I hate to tell you this, but no, I don't.

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"He said, 'You never did read about me in the magazines?'

"I said, No, to tell you the truth. I didn't because when you were big in magazines, I was raising kids and making house payments and trying to survive, and I didn't have the money to buy a magazine.

"We talked some more, then he said, 'I'm going to tell you about your car. I did build it. I only built three of them, all three in 1973. The name of it is Manta Ray. One of them was wrecked when it was new; the other one has never been heard from. One of them was pearl yellow; one was orange with no stripe. The other two were 454/four-speeds; yours is a 350/automatic with air. The guy wanted a street cruiser. You've got a very, very rare and valuable car.'"

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