Numbers are important, especially when it comes to tallying Corvettes. In 1953, only 300 were built. Things began to look up by the 1960 model year, when production first cracked the 10,000 mark. Interestingly, the highest number of Corvettes built in a single year was 53,807, in 1979—this, despite the later C3’s incorporation of wavy plastic bumper caps and a languid, 195-hp base engine. Also, we’ve previously featured the two ’92 editions—both white-on-red convertibles—that bracketed the identically outfitted one-millionth Corvette. Today, the total production tally for America’s Sports Car stands at more than 1.6 million and counting.
Yet what about another, lesser-known milestone, one that is nevertheless significant in Corvette history? That would be the 250,000th unit produced, a car nearly lost to time. What follows is the story of how this landmark ’69 convertible was rescued from an ignominious fate, along with some restoration details for anyone considering a similar project.
The car first rolled off the St. Louis production line on November 7, 1969 to much fanfare, with Miss Teen Missouri behind the wheel as part of GM’s “250,000 Corvette Milestone Celebration.” In a press release dated the day before, John Z. DeLorean, Chevrolet’s general manager at the time, declared that the Corvette’s total production surpassed the number of two-seat sports cars built under any other single nameplate to date. In typical marketing hyperbole, he added that, “The Corvette’s overall influence upon automotive trends and Chevrolet’s individual image goes far beyond the number actually built and sold.”
Public praise notwithstanding, the Corvette remained a borderline case for GM as far as profits were concerned, though building it was apparently still worth the strain. Why so? DeLorean explained at the time that, although the 250,000 figure was only a small fraction of the 40 million cars built by GM since 1953, the prestige the Corvette had achieved added luster to every Chevrolet passenger-car line.
The “Quarter-Mil Corvette” was eventually acquired by George Allen Dyer for the princely sum of $5,060 (not including fees and taxes). He took delivery from Harry Mann Chevrolet in Los Angeles on November 26, 1969. The specs were not extraordinary, but nonetheless appealing: 350/350 engine, four-speed close-ratio trans, standard trim, 3.70-geared Posi rear, auxiliary hard top, AM/FM pushbutton radio, Soft-Ray tinted glass and power windows.
The car was Dyer’s daily driver until 1982, when, inexplicably, he parked it in his garage, where it would sit unused for more than 30 years. Nobody knows why, but his brother Jack believes he merely grew disinterested, as he had several other grownup toys he’d relish for awhile and then put back “on the shelf.” George ultimately signed over the Corvette to Jack shortly before passing away, but by then the long-neglected car was showing the ravages of age and in desperate need of restoration.