It would have been a shame if Mick Wilson’s only memory of owning a 1963 Corvette convertible would have been the day back in the 1970s when he walked away from his just-totaled car.
"I had it just a little over a week. I bought it from my boss for $2,500 and was going to make payments on it," said Wilson. A woman trying to maneuver around a bus crashed her car into Wilson’s ’Vette and that was the end of that dream.
When a Corvette is involved in a major accident, its fiberglass body tends to explode into pieces, he said.
The car was still in his boss’s name, and his boss decided to take the insurance settlement rather than try to rebuild the wreck. Wilson moved on.
But he never truly got over the loss of that Corvette. He fixed up a ’64 Chevy pickup, but sold it because it had to sit outside most of the time.
"I always look for cars when I am out and around," said Wilson, who deals in real estate.
Then one day about four years ago, he stumbled upon a real find at — of all places — a garage sale.
"The guy had it in his garage. The rear end was locked up, but it wasn’t in too bad a shape," Wilson said.
Although the car wasn’t being offered for sale at the garage sale, he was able to persuade the owner to part with it. His plan was to fix it up a little at a time and get it back on the road.
That included overhauling the 327 cubic inch V-8 that came in the car, a mild 250 horsepower version. Curtis Eccles did the work on the engine. "I probably should have hot-rodded it more. It is a 4-barrel, but it was the smallest engine they offered that year," Wilson said.
At the time, though, he was trying to avoid having to run premium fuel in the car.
"But really, you don’t drive a car like this enough to where the gas price matters that much," he noted.
The engine is basically stock, with a pair of Mickey Thompson valve covers and a set of ceramic coated exhaust headers adding a bit of bling inside the well-detailed engine compartment.
The differential was rebuilt, while the factory 4-speed transmission was kept on the job, shifted by a Hurst shifter. The stock factory dual exhaust, independent rear suspension and four-wheel drum brakes were also retained during the rebuild of the ’Vette.
"I haven’t done anything with the interior yet," Wilson said. A look inside shows the 160 mph speedometer, vertically mounted radio and black bucket seats remain in nicely serviceable condition.
He said the body was in fairly good shape, but he wanted to make a statement with the ’63’s clean, sharp lines. Brandon Johnson of Toxic Kolors handled the job of smoothing everything out in preparation for a head-twisting paint job.
Wilson had been scouting for colors on web sites, knowing he wanted a bold orange color with plenty of pearl in it. "This Lamborghini color (Arancio Borealis) kept popping up," he said. The paint was very expensive, but well worth it after Johnson covered the reinvigorated fiberglass in it.
Stock wheels obviously were not going to do the car justice after that paint job, so Wilson bought a set of 17-inch American Racing Torq Thrust wheels and mounted a set of Raptor tires, 215/ 50R/ 17’s in front and bigger 235/ 50R/ 17’s in back.
The beautifully designed factory bumpers were replated by Dawson Brothers and reinstalled, along with various reproduction chrome items like door handles.
The Corvette has both a fold-down soft top and a removable hard top, which hangs in the rafters of Wilson’s garage. "It really doesn’t work with the car’s lines," he said.
It is hard to believe this garage sale find has covered 120,000 miles in its 49-year lifespan. Wilson says he doesn’t drive it much and only takes in a few car shows each season with it.
But anyone who spots it on one of its rare outings is going to have one of those neck-wrenching "car guy moments," as this Corvette stands out wherever it goes.