Back in 1989, I was nine years old and happened to see a television commercial on the VH-1 music video channel for a crazy contest they were running. The gist of it was pretty simple. You dialed a 1-900 number, got billed a couple bucks and threw your name in the big mix to try and win some cars. Not just “some cars” I should clarify but 36 Corvettes, one from each model year that existed to that point in time. Not really understanding the logistics of this, I hounded and hounded my parents to call the number and enter us into the contest. Needless to say, they never did but back then more and a million people actually picked up the phone and entered. A carpenter from Long Island, New York won the whole shooting match. Believe it or not, this is actually the part where the story gets interesting.
The carpenter never got so far as even planning to get the cars home before he was contacted by the famous pop artist Peter Max. Max offered to buy the entire collection of cars with designs on creating some sort of pop culture art piece with them. He got all the cars back to New York City and barely got anything going with regard to said art project. After losing storage, he scrambled and was helped by someone who essentially spread the cars around through parking garages in the city and there they sat for 20+ years. The cars quickly became legendary within the Corvette enthusiast realm and people were pretty cheesed off to see some of these really nice cars just sitting and being covered in grime, dirt, and whatever other horrendousness that NYC could dole out.
The good news is that the collection is now back together and in the hands of a guy who is having all the cars brought back up to snuff. Eventually they will be auctioned but at least they’re being fixed up and saved. There’s an ultra rare 1953 in there among a bunch of desirable others but then there are a bunch of wheezy 1970s models, early 1980s stuff that’s not worth much of anything, etc as well. We have no idea what the guy paid, but there are certainly a few diamonds among the fool’s gold here. The NY Times recently covered the story and has an amazing gallery of photos to go with the words and details. Hit the link below to get the skinny on this story of automotive survival.
Thanks to John for the tip!
(Photo credit: Richard Prince/NY Times)