It took some ingenious sleuth work by the folks at Mecum Auctions, but it paid off for the son who inherited his dad’s ultra-low-mileage 1967 Corvette Sting Ray and decided to sell it last May after 20 years.
You may remember this Marina Blue Corvette coupe that was auctioned off for $675,000 in May, but you may not know about the mystery that could have kept the car from selling for so much money.
Now you can find out more on a new episode of the FOX Business Network series Strange Inheritance with Jamie Colby on Monday, Jan. 29 at 9 p.m. ET.
The unrestored super original Corvette was one of the most highly anticipated vehicles at Dana Mecum’s 30th Spring Classic in Indianapolis in 2017 for any number of reasons, including its 427/435 engine, its 8,537 miles on the odometer, and its extreme originality.
However, all those big pluses threatened to be erased by one little minus – a missing dimple about the size of the tip of a ballpoint pen that is found under the hood of original 1967s. If it’s gone, experts say it could be a tell-tell sign that the car has undergone major body work.
“When you restore the car, that dimple often gets all sanded off,” explains David Burroughs, an automobile authentication expert.
But Matt Litavsky was absolutely sure his dad’s Corvette was all original. After all, he had been around to see it for decades.
“I knew what I had,” Matt told the TV show host, “and I knew everything I had was genuine and real.”
But in the Corvette world, proving authenticity is king. That’s when Burroughs and the team at Mecum Auctions leaped into action, taking the brilliant step of collecting photos of other unrestored Corvettes in the VIN range of Litavsky’s car. Much to their relief, they found a small stretch of 1967 Corvettes in that time frame was missing the dimple, too!
That was great news for Litavsky, who could then divert attention back to where it really belonged – his late father.
Keith Richard Litavsky of Illinois served his country in the Vietnam War, where he was injured on the front line several times, including by a grenade blast one time that left shrapnel in his body for the rest of his life. Then there was the time when the majority of his unit lost their lives in a battle, and Litavsky eventually carried his wounded commanding officer out of the firefight. His officer told him he would nominate him for the Congressional Medal of Honor, but before he could submit the paperwork, the commander was killed in a helicopter crash, which left Litavsky as the lone survivor in his unit.
Litavsky eventually made it back to the States, and he quickly took the money he had been sending home to buy his dream car – the 1967 Corvette 427/435. He recognized it as a future collectible as there were rumors even then about the impending demise of the Corvette, and took extreme measures over the years to make sure it stayed in tip-top condition. Litavsky even kept diaries of its use – logging each time he started it and including details about the RPMs he hit and how the car ran.
Unfortunately, while he was serving his country, Litavsky had been sprayed with Agent Orange in a Vietnam jungle, and like so many other brave soldiers of that era, he eventually died of cancer as a result of that exposure.
His son, Matt, inherited the Corvette in 1993 and continued to take good care of the car, which at the time of the auction had been driven 8,533 miles in half a century – including only 15 miles over the past 15 years!
“I have tried to continue to maintain the car with the same love and integrity that my father did,” Matt said before the auction. “It may be the very last true ‘Vault Find’ in the world … [My dad] saved all of the paperwork that went with the car. All is in order and like new. I will miss this car more than you will know, as it has been a part of my life and something that truly strengthened the bond between my father and me. But, one thing I know for sure, is that even when the car is gone, the memories will live on.”
Burroughs, who says he has authenticated around 10,000 Corvettes, called Litavsky’s one of the best he’s ever seen.
As you can imagine, it wasn’t an easy decision for Matt to part with the car, however.
“It was years of praying saying, ‘Hey, God, what do you want me to do with this car?'” he says on the TV show.
He finally got the answer to his prayer one day and decided to sell the car last year so he could split the inheritance among his own children.
“I didn’t pray for money, I prayed for it to go to a good home,” Matt says.
Gary and Jackie Runyon ended up buying the Corvette, impressed with the story behind it and telling Matt he was welcome to come visit the car whenever he liked.
“That’s good to know that it’s there if I need to see it,” he says.
Dimple or no dimple…
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