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A Corvette Tale Covering Decades

Arthur Clarkson, Jr.

I have been enthralled by Corvettes since the 1st new 1954 I saw in person when I was about 10 or 11 years old. Then, in 1963, I was home from college one weekend. While picking up some parts for my 1951 Chevy Pickup I watched as a new 1963 Saddle Tan Sting Ray Convertible was unloaded from the transport at Anderson Motors, the Chevrolet dealer in Helena, MT.

The original owner was a local Doctor and I would regularly see the car around town. In 1968, the Doctor traded his ’63 Corvette for new Buick Rivera and a co-worker of mine bought the Vette before I even knew it was for sale. The 1st day he showed up at work with it, I told him he needed to sell it to me. He laughed and for the remainder of the time I worked with him, I kept telling him he should sell it to me. I left that job and returned to college. The day after graduation in 1970, I special ordered a 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T. Then, almost exactly a year after the Challenger was delivered, my old coworker called me and asked if I was still interested in the Corvette. I said I was, but couldn’t afford it at that time. I had the year-old Challenger and was auto crossing a 1962 Healey Sprite. However, my younger brother was looking for a car and in the summer of 1971, I talked him into buying the ’63 Vette.

I figured in a couple of years I would be able to buy it from him. Little did I know how wrong I was. Finally, in 1974, assuming the ’63 was out of the picture for a while, I purchased a near new (6000 mile) white/oxblood 1974 Coupe with L-48 and automatic from a neighbor when he took delivery of his new ’75 Coupe. I still own the ’74. Several times in the intervening years, I attempted to buy the ’63 from my brother and the response from Bob was always NO! In 2013, I had the opportunity to buy a one owner 1978 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme Coupe. Before buying the Olds, I thought I would try to buy the Vette one more time. I called my brother and he essentially told me no way in H--- would I ever get that Corvette. So, I bought the Olds.

Then one day in June 2016, my brother called me and asked if I was still interested in the Vette. I said I had been interested in that Vette since I first saw it. He said, “bring your trailer and come and get it”. I thought he might be kidding. During the entire drive from Richland, WA to Helena, MT, with my empty trailer, I fully expected him to say he was joking or he had changed his mind. He was serious though and after negotiations, we pulled the Vette out of the shed it had been parked in for over 15 years and loaded it on my trailer for the trip back to Richland. After my brother had owned it for 45 years, I was finally able to get it from him. The car hadn’t been started for over 15 years. The last time I am certain that it was running before 2018 was at the 1999 Big Sky Corvette Meet in Helena, MT.

It is now safely in my climate-controlled shop and I was finally able to get it running and back on the street in the spring of 2018. It is a basically original, running, 20 ft., “driver” and needs considerable work (interior, instruments, paint, etc. etc.). It is a 327, originally 340 HP, with 4 speed and no other power accessories. The block had been replaced sometime while owned by the 1st owner. It still has the original Saddle Tan leather interior, with a couple of tears, and the original convertible top (serviceable but has some small tears and needs replacing) as well as the hard top. It was repainted in about 1973 and although it looks good from a distance, up close, the paint shows age, the exterior has just been washed and quickly detailed since it was removed from the “shed” where it had been stored.

Over Memorial Day weekend in May, 2019, we trailered my 1963 to the 48th Annual Big Sky Corvette Meet in Missoula, MT. During the meet, I commented to my wife that I would like a new C7 Corvette convertible. I started a search and on June 30, I purchased a new 2019 Sebring Orange Stingray convertible. This makes a total of 3 Corvettes, a 1979 El Camino, and a 1993 Oldsmobile Cutlass convertible in our garage.

I have been a customer of Mid America Motorworks since May, 1976 when I purchased a belt buckle from Mike at the Big Sky Corvette Meet in Missoula, MT. (I still have the belt buckle.) The Mid America “store front” at that Vette meet was a Chevy Van and the Mid America catalog was printed on newsprint. (Think I still have a couple of those old “catalogs”.) Now, we are also able to get parts for 2 Bahama Blue 1965 VW Bugs from MAM. The Bugs belong to our adult daughter and son. Somehow, they moved and their Bugs live with me and I get to work on them! Times have changed!

Bill Clarkson
Richland, Washington

Arthur Clarkson, Jr.'s Parts List