Persistence Beats Resistance

Also from Issue 66

  • 1965 Restomod
  • 2008 Coupe
  • Market Report: C4
  • 1992 Coupe
  • 1954 Roadster
  • Tech: New Big Block
  • 1967 Small-Block Coupe
  • How-To: C6 Appearance
  • Racing: Sebring
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Several decades later, Schwartz reached a point in his life when he had the time and money to own sports cars again. The Rosylyn, New York resident acquired a number of Corvettes, but none of them—no matter how fast or how rare—satisfied his urge for that ’69 Motion car. Finally, it got to a point where Schwartz just had to get the car back. Fortunately, he knew someone who could help: Kevin Mackay.

In addition to running Corvette Repair Inc., a well-regarded restoration shop in Valley Stream, New York, Mackay is a National Corvette Restorers Society (NCRS) Master Judge, as well as a Bloomington Gold Benchmark Judge. Armed with knowledge, connections and resourcefulness, Mackay is a master at tracking down rare Corvettes. For example, he helped the late Chip Miller find the ex-Cunningham Corvette that won its class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1960.

Schwartz was one of the first customers Mackay ever had, and over the past 25 years, Schwartz had occasionally mentioned his 1969 Baldwin-Motion Phase III Corvette. However, having heard similar stories from other clients, Mackay never really knew for sure if Schwartz indeed owned one of the rare Motion cars. Where was the proof? Mackay wondered. Then, one day, Schwartz surprised Mackay with some old photos of him with the Motion Corvette. Having convinced Mackay that he had indeed owned the car, Schwartz persuaded the restorer to help track it down.

Approximately one year after that conversation with Schwartz, Mackay was working on a Baldwin-Motion Phase III GT—the later, more heavily customized and luxurious Corvette. While hunting down parts on eBay, he came across a Phase III coupe for sale; it looked like it could be the one. He called Schwartz immediately to confer, giving him the eBay item number. Once logged on, Schwartz knew that, despite the car’s weathered appearance, he was looking at “his” Corvette. The clincher was a photo that showed a Stewart Warner fuel-pressure gauge mounted on the driver’s side wiper cowl. Schwartz had installed that himself. Without a doubt, he knew that Mackay had found the right car; Schwartz couldn’t believe his luck.

There were a few problems, however. First, the car was missing its motor and transmission. Second, despite the empty engine bay, the owner had set a “Buy It Now” price of $220,000. Mackay thought this was excessive, and advised Schwartz to make the owner an offer of $150,000. This was turned down. Then, after a few days, the listing was removed. When Mackay called the owner to inquire about the Corvette, he learned it had been swapped for an ultra-rare Central Office Production Order Camaro. “That was the last we heard of the car,” says Schwartz. “I was just devastated. We were that close!”

Another year went by. Then, once again, Schwartz received a call from Mackay. “What are you doing this Saturday?” asked Mackay. Schwartz told him that he was attending a wedding.“No, you’re not!” Mackay said. “We’re going to an auction. Your car’s up for sale again. We’re going to go get your car back. No screwing around this time!”

A few days later, the pair were at the auction site in Connecticut, looking for their quarry among the field of 80 cars. Once they found it, Mackay was able to quickly ascertain that the Corvette had undergone an amateur restoration. “There were many things wrong with the car,” says Mackay. Although a proper L71 V8 and M21 gearbox had been fitted, not all of the correct Motion mods had been installed on the engine. Worse yet, the car didn’t run. Apparently, the owner had tax problems and needed to sell it in a hurry.