Have you ever wondered what happened to a car that you owned years ago?
Marie Hennings of Mohawk, N.Y., had that feeling many times about a 1953 Corvette she and her husband Jim owned for 11 years beginning in 1963.
But you better sit down before Marie tells you how much the couple paid 56 years ago for their first-year Corvette, one of just 300 made in 1953.
“Jim and I were finishing college in Syracuse when Jim found the car,” she recalled. “We paid $300 for it in 1963.”
After buying the car from the family of a young man who had entered the military and asked them to sell it for him while he was gone, Marie and Jim enjoyed the Corvette until 1974.
That’s when Jim sold the car. He eventually passed away in 2004, and Marie never found out who the purchaser was.
Over the years, Marie wondered where the Corvette wound up and even got in touch with anyone that she thought might know of its whereabouts, including Jim’s co-workers.
But the mystery remained until last year when she heard about the C1 Corvette Registry and was able to trace the car to its current owner, David D’Onofrio of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
“He got right back to me,” Marie says after she had sent an email to D’Onofrio thanks to the website.
Fortunately, Marie was able to track the car because she had kept paperwork on the Corvette all these years, and she even had a spare key that she was able to send to D’Onofrio. He said the car fired up immediately when he used the old key.
But the story gets even better. D’Onofrio – who also owns a 1967 Corvette he had as a youth – invited her and sons John and Jeff to come down to a car show in Florida last month. The ’53 was on display at the Corvette Club of South Florida’s eighth annual Corvette and Open Car and Truck Show in Coconut Creek, Fla., benefiting the Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital.
Since D’Onofrio is a member of the sponsoring club, the ’53 wasn’t eligible for prizes, but visitors to the show were so impressed with Marie’s story that she was given a “Best of Show” trophy for the car.
D’Onofrio now refers to the ’53 as “our car.” After all, she and husband Jim were faithful stewards of the Corvette for more than a decade, allowing it to remain in existence some 66 years later.