Have you ever seen the vintage magazine ad with a couple holding hands on a dock, their red 1965 Corvette convertible in the foreground?
Well, that very car may be in the possession today of a Johnstown, Pennsylvania car restorer named Matt Barczak.
When he bought the heavily optioned ’65 with a 327/350 L79 engine and a four-speed transmission, Matt didn’t realize just what an extra special piece of history he was getting.
Once he had finally been able to buy the car – a long story in itself as one person had dibs ahead of him and the owner wasn’t even sure he wanted to sell – Matt brought it home and began to look over the accompanying paperwork. While checking out the Protect-O-Plate, he thought the name “B SKELTON” of LaFayette, Michigan sounded familiar.
Finally, it dawned on him that the original owner had been Betty Skelton, the legendary Corvette driver who set speed records in planes and cars before joining GM’s ad agency in 1956. She even helped Joe Pike launch Corvette News, serving as its editor at one point, and actually drove a Bill Mitchell-designed special Corvette used for Speed Weeks and as a NASCAR pace car in 1957. She was eventually inducted into the Corvette Hall of Fame in 2001 for her contributions to America’s Sports Car.
When he found the car in January this year, though, it didn’t look much like the one pictured in the iconic advertisement. Indeed, it had been parked in a garage for the past 20 years, where Matt said it was “stuffed in the corner between a furnace and a dog pen” and “buried in dust.”
This was no dog of a car, though.
Since Skelton had a history with ad agency Campbell-Ewald, Barczak believes his car could well be one of the two Rally Red ‘65s used for advertising Sting Rays that year – one with a red interior and one with a black interior like his.
Matt has been able to determine that his car was built on Dec. 4, 1964 and went to Chevrolet Central Office on Dec. 21, 1964. He believes the NCRS order sheet confirms that Pike had the “brass hat” car built specifically for Skelton, who finally received the Sting Ray on May 12, 1965 after GM was through using it for advertising purposes.
The car still has its numbers-matching engine, along with options like power windows, power brakes, telescopic wheel, and AM/FM radio.
Barczak plans to buff out the Rally Red paint, which is original. Skelton would no doubt be proud her Corvette is still going strong.
Check out the full article and all the pics of this Sting Ray from our friend Jerry Heasley at superchevy.com.
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