Love it or loathe it, Dan Hayes' '72 Motion Moray GT Corvette is guaranteed to engender a strong response for those who lay eyes on it. Whether you're in the "yea" or "nay" crowd is a matter of personal taste. What you cannot sidestep, however, is this car's significant place in Corvette history. While any Motion Corvette is a scarce commodity by anyone's standards, this Moray GT is in the most rarified of company: its own. Think you've seen a car just like this before? Think again, because there aren't any other Corvettes like it. It is the singular example, the ever-elusive "one of one."
Proving the adage that you can find anything on eBay, Hayes stumbled upon this beast in 2005, almost completely at random. While much of its history remains murky, the Poplar Bluff, Missouri, detail-shop owner says the car had "changed hands approximately four times." And yet, despite this relatively high rate of turnover, the Corvette was in remarkably unmolested condition.
This Vette was a Motion Performance shop conversion, rather than a Baldwin-Motion car. That means the original owner brought the Ontario Orange C3 directly to Motion Performance for customization. Cars bearing the Baldwin-Motion tag were new cars sold through Long Island, New York's Baldwin Chevrolet. Buyers could choose from a list of high-performance and racing equipment a la carte, building stout 12-second street cars or full-boogie race machines guaranteed to run a number. Just about any of Chevy's performance cars were eligible, so Camaros, Chevelles, Corvettes, Novas, Impalas, and Biscaynes were all given the treatment.
Let's be honest. A car with a lesser pedigree could never pull it off. The Motion body mods are extreme. While they are undoubtedly not everyone's cup of tea, they do make a statement. According to Corvette authority and Motion representative Martyn Schorr, "It's part Manta Ray and part Maco Shark [not "Mako," which was the name given to two of GM's concept cars, and is therefore trademarked], customized using parts from two different kits Motion had been selling at the time. The kits were developed from the Maco Shark and Manta Ray custom Corvettes that had been built for customers. I don't believe [Motion Performance founder] Joel Rosen built any others like it." Rosen was instrumental in the restoration of this car, and would not authenticate it until every detail was complete and to his satisfaction.
Surprisingly, all of the original body mods were still in place and in good condition when Hayes bought the car. Somewhere along the line, though, it had been repainted a rather bland shade of maroon. The car was mostly disassembled for its restoration, but the body was not removed from the frame.
The Maco Shark front-end kit consisted of a tilting, one-piece nose-and-hood assembly,complete with fender flares, an integrated grille, and a large hood blister. When viewed in profile, the fender lines are raised almost to the point of being cartoonish. The grille in the nose of the car conceals the headlights and is one of the very few pieces that are not original. "The original grille was bashed to pieces," Hayes says. "We spent weeks trying to piece it back together before giving up and looking for an alternative." A conversation with Rosen over the fabrication of a replacement also led to the car's most notable modification: the hood grates.
The hood had two large, flat-topped protrusions, apparently meant to be cut out and filled with grates, but for some reason, this work had never been performed. With Rosen's blessing of the proposed design, Matt Smith was commissioned to craft the new billet grille and matching grates for the now-functional hood.
Out back, the Manta Ray treatment's most notable feature is its rear window. Grafted in place over the coupe's notch sail panels, the long, sloping section is reminiscent of the midyear fastbacks. Installation of this piece required the relocation of the fuel filler to the driver side and the addition of a Moon-style flip-up gas cap. A massive, blocky rear spoiler, similar to that found on the second-generation Camaro, was molded to the rear deck.
The rear-window panel also necessitated the reshaping of the B-pillars and required a rework of the T-top in order to make the bodylines flow, according to Hayes. Motion also replaced the outside rearview mirrors with body-color fiberglass racing replicas.
Perhaps the most substantial deviation in the restoration process came when it was time to select a paint color. "I never photographed it when it was finished, as the paint came out less than nice, with green tones in the Pearl Yellow paint," Schorr says. "It's much more beautiful today." Hayes echoes Schorr's sentiments on the color: "We found some of the undesirable green beneath a trim piece in one of the doorjambs. Let's just say it was the nastiest color ima-ginable." Rayburn Pennington was asked to rectify the situation, and he obliged with a DuPont Hot Hues Lemon Yellow basecoat with gold pearl. Pennington also took care of the trademark black Stinger stripe.
One of the other non-original components was a set of American Racing "salt-flat"-style wheels. "They were way too big and had the wrong look. The wheels and tires made it look like a punk's car," Hayes says. Upon approaching Rosen for advice, Hayes was told he had two choices: either the American Turbine wheels, or the far more pedestrian American Racing Torq-Thrust Ds. "I felt the Turbine wheel was the correct choice for the car. When I finally found a set, they were on eBay, mounted to a mid-'80s Monte Carlo that was for sale. I offered the guy an obscene amount for the wheels [alone], and he wisely accepted. When the wheels arrived, I thought I had goofed. They were painted powder blue. It took a trip to the sand blaster and many painstaking hours of hand sanding and polishing to bring them back to life." With the wheels dolled up, it was time to dress them with one concession to progress: modern Goodyears that provide a sure-footed grip.
The interior is almost completely original, except for the front portion of carpeting, which was replaced at some point in the car's 30-plus years of existence. The original diamond-tufted vinyl is still in place on the seats, center console, doors, and T-top. "All it needed was a good cleaning," says Hayes. "It has held up remarkably well."
Relatively little is known about the big-block's innards. Hayes has understandably been reluctant to tear into the still-strong 454 just to satisfy his-and more than a few others'-curiosity. What he does know is that the block and transmission are correct and that their numbers match the body.
Prior to being handed over to Motion, the car was an original 454/4-speed. It now wears a pair of 427 cylinder heads that are believed to have been installed by the tuner, but the mods performed to these remain a mystery. They are capped by Motion's signature finned aluminum valve covers. The valvetrain is mostly unknown, but Hayes tells us there are roller rockers and a roller cam in place. The camshaft's specs, as you might expect, are also unknown. The aluminum GM manifold wears a single Holley 750 and a "Fly Eye" Motion air cleaner. The ignition remains stock, while Hooker headers and side pipes are in charge of exhaust duties. During the restoration, Jimmy Voyles pulled the engine to detail and tune to perfection.
Oddly for a Motion car, this vehicle was never originally named by Rosen. After the car was complete, it became clear that a snappier handle than "1972 Motion Conversion Corvette" was needed. So, sticking close to his prior oceangoing themes of Maco, Manta, and Stinger, Rosen settled upon Moray GT.
In the past few months since the car has been completed, Hayes has made perhaps half a dozen half-hearted dragstrip passes, most of them in the low 13s at over 100 mph. His insurance underwriter understandably frowns on normal street usage, so most of the Moray's jaunts are limited to parades, shows, and Motion Supercar reunions.
Hayes was initially caught off guard by the uproar caused by the car. "It is amazing to me how a car like this will take you from being a nobody to having people calling you from all around the world. This car makes me feel like a celebrity." Enjoy the notoriety, Dan, as this car is bound to get you noticed for a long time to come.