Few things increase the revs in our car collector’s hearts more than the prospect of a barn find — you know, your dream car that somebody put in a barn and never came back to collect. A little worn and thoroughly dirty, but mostly there, just waiting for someone to come along and give it a good home.
Roger Thornton is one of us. Not just a mere car fan, he’s a Corvette lover who had the dream of one day finding an affordable Vette. A lot of us harbor the same dream, but Roger faced a bigger hurdle most—he lived in Jolly Old England where Corvettes are scarce and the chances of finding one that is affordable are virtually nil, as they say.
After years of looking everywhere, Roger struck gold about 15 miles (or 24 kilometers, if you prefer) from his home. His best friend caught wind of a Corvette hiding in a barn and when they went to take a look at it, they found the Holy Grail of Corvette lovers. A 1966 Corvette coupe with a 427 big block and a 4-speed manual transmission.
Of course, Roger had to have it, but then came the next quest—finding the owner. The car was imported by an American living in the UK at the time and when it came time to move back home, the car was left in the barn. It took Roger over a year to track the owner down and make the deal to buy the Vette.
In short order, Roger and his family had the dream car cleaned up and running, got it through the obligatory MOT (Ministry of Transportation) test, and had it back on the road. After two years of enjoyment, they decided it was time for a comprehensive restoration. It was, indeed, comprehensive, taking seven years to complete, but the results are magnificent and certainly worth the effort.
Supercar Sunday at the Heritage Motor Centre in Gaydon is one of the largest car shows in the UK and the Thornton Corvette stole the show. According to Nicki, Roger’s daughter, “My dad’s car got noticed after what we like to call a Rev-off competition to see how loud the engine can go. The crowd ‘round the car was amazing and the next thing we knew we were having to park in the winner’s circle. It was crazy!” It just goes to show that the music made by a 427 with side pipes is appreciated around the world.
Nicki is justifiably proud of her dad and the family Corvette and sent the story to our friends at BarnFinds.com. She also took the time to help us with our report. Thanks, Nicki. Here’s hoping the whole Thornton clan has many years of enjoyment with the Corvette.