On the morning of December 25, 2010, Scott Oliver paused to read a forwarded email from his father, Larry. Intrigued, he clicked on the link, which led him to a Craigslist ad for a C1 Corvette in Atlanta. Scott figured the ad was fake, because the price was so low and the pictures looked like somebody pulled them off of another site.
Curious, he emailed the seller, thinking the response would include a plea to pay overseas shipping or some other questionable come-on. Instead, the owner called back and explained that he had just returned from Iraq and needed to sell his Corvette. Based on a check of eBay Motors prices, he figured $10,000 was a fair sum for the car, which was a '57 model...or maybe a '58.
Scott left a family gathering in Alpharetta and told Larry, in Athens, to meet him at their shop in Marietta. From there, they drove 45 minutes to Newnan, Georgia, the site of this Rare Find.
"We both felt there was something wrong," Scott says. After all, the deal sounded too good to be true. The duo's fears seemed to be confirmed when they found the listed address on a mailbox in front of a vacant house.
"I called the guy on the phone, and he told us his driveway was across the street," Scott says. "So, we go down there, meet him at his grandmother's house, and he takes us into the woods."
The car was parked on gravel and under a car cover. It turned out to be a '58 model with front-end damage. The frame wasn't bent or rusty, however, and the body was in good condition overall. The interior appeared original.
"We were just floored. I couldn't believe how original the car was," Scott says.
The story was that the seller had owned the Corvette for about two years. He was very vague about the car's provenance and had no title or keys. At first, Scott suspected theft. The trio talked for hours until the sun began to set and snow started to settle on the old C1.
Finally, Scott and Larry made a deal and gave the seller a deposit. Initially, their plan was to come back two days later with a trailer. But while they were on their way home, they began to worry that somebody else might offer the seller more money. So they scrounged up some more cash from their pockets, made a sizable withdrawal from an ATM machine, and returned with the trailer the next morning.
Sure enough, another person had tried to outbid them. The hopeful buyer had emailed an offer of almost twice the asking price. The seller, however, decided to honor his deal with the Olivers because they had already put down a deposit.
On the trip home, Scott and his dad laughed as they speculated about the possibility of the real owner being stuffed in the trunk. The reality turned out to be much more mundane: After a locksmith made a fresh set of keys, the pair discovered the original grille and hubcaps in "pretty good" shape. The engine was the base 230-horse 283 backed by a Powerglide; a hard top was one of the few extras.
The Olivers own Jett Vettes (www.jett vettes.com), but they don't restore Corvettes for customers. Instead, they buy their own Vettes—typically cars like this one—and restore them to sell at auction. This time, Scott thinks his father might end up with the finished product.
"He had a heart attack last year and is slowing down a little bit. So, when I get done with the car, he's more than likely going to get it. He's just way overdue to have his own car."
That seems appropriate for a Christmas Day Rare Find.