It took Maureen Robinson a long time to be able to fully appreciate her father’s 1963 Corvette Sting Ray.
Her dad, Michael O’Brien, bought the light blue split window coupe in 1964 and seemed to have a sense early-on that one day it would become a collector’s item – in more ways than one.
While some other early owners removed the split window to mimic what they perceived as the much improved ’64 model, O’Brien heeded the advice of a friend and left his car’s split intact. He drove it frequently through the 1960s, but then decided to park it when he was away frequently with a job in Minnesota in the early 1970s. He made that decision, too, because Maureen and her sister didn’t seem to like the car back when they were little kids.
“She was a baby, and whenever she was back there, she would scream bloody murder,” said Lenora Draves, O’Brien’s sister. “She and her sister didn’t like it, so he would just use the other car that he drove to work all the time.” That doesn’t mean he lost interest in the car. While it was stored in a garage, he made it clear that no bikes and other items that might scratch the paint were to come close to his split window.
The car remained under cover for a quarter of a century before Maureen’s husband finally convinced O’Brien to unveil it when Maureen turned 26 in 1996.
“My husband badgered him enough, and he finally brought it out,” Robinson smiles. “…They couldn’t just charge the battery and put oil in it (to start the car). The tires were flat from it being stored away for so long, and they had to turn the engine by hand to get it going.”
The long-term storage wasn’t all bad, though. All of the original parts were still there, making it unnecessary to search for what are now rare items for these 50-year-old cars. She’s since won many trophies at car shows. Her dad officially gave the car to Maureen in 2009, a year before his death. She has since put new shocks on the car and clear-coated the body to beef up the shine.
Not surprisingly, the Corvette draws a lot of attention, and she’s frequently asked if the car is for sale.
But, again, not surprisingly, this family heirloom isn’t going anywhere without Maureen.
“This is invaluable to me,” she said, sitting behind the car during the Back To The Bricks Tune Up Party in Davison, Mich.
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