• Dec 28th 2012 at 3:10PM
  • 234
You can see the price tag still in this Corvette's wind... You can see the price tag still in this Corvette's window on the left. (Corky Rice)
Corky Rice, a used car wholesaler from Glendale, Calif., says he's bought and sold about 25,000 to 30,000 cars in his life. But he just sold what's probably the biggest unicorn of his career: A practically brand-new 1989 Corvette.

The story goes like this: In 1989, an Irish immigrant who was mixed up with the wrong crowd got talked into stealing the car off a dealer's lot. He promptly drove the car straight to a storage facility in San Diego, where he parked it and walked away. But he kept paying the bills for the storage unit, pressured by annual calls from his crime associates to keep the car stored. So it sat there, untouched and totally protected in the perfect San Diego climate, for 23 years.

But after doling out nearly $70,000 in storage fees, the Irish guy (now back in Ireland) decided he'd had enough. He called an attorney to talk about his options, and turned himself in. Except there wasn't anything to turn in. The statute of limitations covering the crime had long expired, so police couldn't charge him with anything. They picked up the car and sold it to a wholesaler. Who then called up Rice, and asked him if he wanted to buy it.

"I didn't even rush – I took two or three days to get down there – because I didn't want to sound overly excited," Rice told AOL Autos. "But when I got there, I was blown away."

The red Corvette with black leather interior was in immaculate condition. Rice opened the door, and the new car smell hit him in the nose. The sticker price was still in the window, showing the car was being sold for $39,410. There was still a paper insert over the parking brake, with directions on proper use of the brake.

Most importantly: The car had just 67 miles on the odometer, making it incredibly valuable since vintage cars are more valuable when they have a low number of miles on the odometer.

Rice bought the car and began hyping it. He posted it on eBay with a ton of photos, calling it a "Once In A Lifetime Opportunity To Buy A Brand New 1989 Corvette." Pretty soon The Los Angeles Times wrote a feature on the car, and interest started gathering.

Mike Robertson, an advertising executive from Newport Beach, Calif., was reading The L.A. Times on Dec. 21, a couple of days before Christmas, when he came across the story and his interest was piqued. He told AOL Autos that he'd long fantasized about buying a brand-new car and then just putting that car in storage, only to take it out 20 years from now and drive it around as if it were brand new.

"Like time capsuling a car for myself ... it was just a fantasy," Robertson said. "But I thought I'd take a shot at seeing if I could get it."

He drove up to Glendale and checked out the Corvette. Rice said Robertson announced he was going to win the eBay auction, but Rice just shrugged it off. There was another guy, up in Canada, who had already said he was going to be the winner and was pricing out shipping options to Canada.

But Robertson also had a price in mind. He hoped he could get the car for the original sticker price: $39,410.

He was off by just $300.

Roberston was schedule to pick up the car Friday afternoon from a dealer who flushed out all of the fluids and replaced them with new ones, and replaced the tires which, while still holding air, had become shaped like the letter D from where they'd rested on the ground for 23 years.

He's not sure what he's going to do with the car. Robertson says he doesn't entirely feel like he's the Corvette's rightful owner, so he might try to sell it again in a little while. There might be a Chevy dealer who could envision themselves with this car, and it's sticker price still in place, on their dealership floor.

Or maybe he'll just keep it.

"I'll drive it when I feel like it," he said, just a couple of hours before he was scheduled to pick it up from the dealer. "And I feel like driving it today, I'll tell you that."


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  • 234 Comments
      rwethal
      • 2 Years Ago
      Owned 69BB VETT sense19 73, 119,000 MILES, I BOUGHT IT TO DRIVE IT, JUST WONDERING, ALL YOU VETT PEOPLE, Around the MADISON,WI area if we meet another vett person on the road we give a wave or a thumbs up? that been happening sense the mid 60S WHEN I BOUGHT MY FIRST 64VETT, ALL YOU VETT PEOPLE HAVE A GOOD DAY CHEVYSFOREVER!!!!
        • 2 Years Ago
        @rwethal
        i am a first time Corvette owner. At 62 it has always been a real wish to own one. It is a 2009 ZR1 with 6400 miles. i bought it to keep it in the garage. ONLY WHEN I AM NOT DRIVING IT! this car as well as all Corvettes is not normally an everyday driven car. But rest assured it will be driven regularly. i did not buy it to look at it only. Let everyone out there on the road just imagine my enthusiam when they see it!
          jw10588
          • 2 Years Ago
          good for you I'm 48 and was about to buy my retirement gift to myself, but the wife told me that shewas having our second son so there goes the corvette for now lol (getting a camaro ss now) but some day I will get my toy! GM lover
      eb50tj
      • 2 Years Ago
      Gee Wally,, Maybe this one "just might be" another modern folklore story... Like the 55 or 57 or maybe the 64 or the 67 nova duece... maybe the "brand new" 41 in the barn. What a waste of time
        dkp50
        • 2 Years Ago
        @eb50tj
        $39k indexed To Inflation is worth over $80,000 in today's Dollars ! So many Buy "Collector Cars" as investments only to find out, they are not worth it .. Those Cars you see on Cable Car Auciton Shows? They spent Just as much, if not more than they Get for them to Restore them.. 5 out of 10 are being Sold due to They Need the $ from them.. the others are sold by Brokers.. that make their $ from their Commissions ..It's all hype and Phony
      TB
      • 2 Years Ago
      Glendale to San Diego is a whole lot more than the 67 odometer miles reported here.....just sayin'
        • 2 Years Ago
        @TB
        the story doesnt say where he stole the car from, just that he drove it to storage in san diego. glendale is where the person (corky rice) who just sold the car is from.
      sgentilejr
      • 2 Years Ago
      Since the vehicle was stolen from a Dealership______that dealership is the Legal and Rightful owner and they are buying and selling Stolen Property.
        gmacrefigmac
        • 2 Years Ago
        @sgentilejr
        The dealer would not be the rightful owner as they are insured and were paid many years ago. The owner is the Insurance Company.
      eb50tj
      • 2 Years Ago
      Ask most "dealers" Vettes NEVER have the R I G H T read CORRECT mileage showing!
      Camille
      • 2 Years Ago
      Were the fluids in the engine still good or did they flush it out? How about the battery???
      paul
      • 2 Years Ago
      But wait" if the dealor that the car was stolen from had insurance & was paid wouldnt the insurance really own the car? how does a thief get to own it for keeping it? Plus if the dealor didnt collect on their stolen car wouldnt it be theirs/?
      bob11577
      • 2 Years Ago
      Who care's its a dog!
      • 2 Years Ago
      Red Barchetta
      captain michael
      • 2 Years Ago
      I bought a 1923 model t # 8,000,005 with 800 miles on it in a garage in brooklyn. i had to flush and change fluids, remove the original tires, put in new spark plugs , but i drove it 50 miles home. my brother has a 76 eldorado conv with 8 miles in his garage and a 1991 syclone. no miles. thes cars are not so rare to find
      raress9596
      • 2 Years Ago
      A little far fetched. Somehow somewhere an insurance company had to pay out on the theft. A dealer would have been awfully stupid not to have insurance. I had a truck stolen from a repair shop who was modifying the chassis before I registered it and their insurance company paid me for it and became the owner. Fifteen years later the truck was recovered! I got a phone call that they found my truck. I told them it wasn't mine anymore. I made some phone calls and the truck was taken by the owner.....the insurance company that paid the claim originally!
      jerrysclassiccar
      • 2 Years Ago
      It sure would be nice if the new vettes of today cost 40K! I bought a new convertible in 08, loaded. It cost 67,800.00. Should be nice to see what the new C7 looks like in a couple of weeks. I know I'll want one but with the economy in the shape that it is, well, I'll probably just keep wanting! Consideing the 08 is paid for !
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