NINETEEN EIGHT TWO IS A SPECIAL YEAR FOR JOE PICCA. Not only is it the year he graduated from high school, but it also happens to correspond with his favorite Corvette model. This goes a long way in explaining why he has not one but two ’82 Corvettes parked in his garage. And not just any ’82s, but two of the most well-preserved examples that you’re likely to ever come across.
He happened upon the first one in 2004, while working a few cities from his home in River Edge, New Jersey. It was parked inside a garage with the door open. The car’s bright white color caught Picca’s eye first, then, as he got closer, he noticed that it was in perfect, and seemingly all-original, condition. “It was stunning,” remembers Picca, who describes 1980-82 models as having “the most refined shape” of all third-generation Corvettes. A peek inside revealed an immaculate Camel-colored leather interior, a load of factory options and an odometer reading just over 19,000 miles. At that point, Picca did what anybody would do when coming face to face with his or her dream car: He asked if it was for sale. The owner wasn’t present, but the person in charge of the Corvette said he would make an inquiry.
Six months later, Picca heard that the Corvette’s owner was interested in selling the car. As it turns out, that owner was none other than Bob Guccione, the founder of Penthouse magazine, who had bought it new but not driven it much during the 22 years his name was on the pink slip. A deal was made, and the keys were soon in Picca’s hands, along with a signed copy of Penthouse. Apparently Mr. Guccione wasn’t the most ardent of Corvette afficionados, as he signed the magazine: “To Joe, Enjoy the Vet.” This Vette had been given a more knowledgeable custodian, one who had been immersed in the model’s lore since he was a boy.
The Corvette did not, however, inherit an owner interested in driving it a lot. Eight years after purchasing the car, Picca has logged less than 2,000 miles, which means he’s driving it about a third as much as Guccione (or his handlers) did. But Picca was not looking for a road-trip machine, he was more interested in buying a piece of Corvette history, lovingly preserving it—right down to Guccione’s vintage car phone—and sharing it with his wife Stacey and son Nicholas, as well as the public at local car shows.
Picca is even more hesitant to put miles on his second ’82 Corvette; that’s because it has less than 500 on it. No, there are no missing zeros in that figure. When he bought the red Corvette in 2010, it had a mere 320 miles on it. By comparison, his white ’82 is a “driver.”
Six years after buying his first ’82 Corvette, Picca wasn’t necessarily looking to buy another, but when he came across the listing for the red car in Hemmings Motor News it pretty much stopped him in his tracks. If you are interested in preserving Corvette history, you can’t do better than acquiring a bona-fide time capsule. The original owner, after buying the C3 with every available option from Mike Savoie Chevrolet in Troy, Michigan, put the car in climate-controlled storage for the next two decades. The Vette was periodically brought out of hibernation to warm and circulate its fluids, and keep its various lines and hoses from gunking up, but over that 20-year period it only accumulated 131 miles, which works out to a mere 6.5 miles per annum.