Saturday won’t be the first time the goldwood yellow, 325-horsepower Chevrolet Corvette has taken a spin in the Graffiti Weekend cruise. It will, however, be the convertible’s maiden Graffiti trip as a 50-year-old.
Like Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty, the G.I. Joe action figure and the film version of “Goldfinger,” this particular Sting Ray entered the world in 1964. The car has pretty much remained in Roseburg for all five decades, according to its third owner, retired dentist and Roseburg resident Geoffrey Stark.
Even more remarkable, the Corvette is a number-matching car with original parts, still wearing the paint it featured when it was driven off the lot of Hansen Motor Co. in Roseburg, Stark said.
“What I was told and what I would love to confirm is that it originally was white, and when Hansen got it, that was not a popular color,” he said. “The goldwood yellow was actually a ’65 color, so they had it painted thinking it would be easier to sell.”
Stark has a copy of the invoice showing that original owner Joe Brady traded his 1957 Chevy for the new Corvette, earning a credit of $1,580. Brady paid the balance of $3,537.10 on June 7, 1964.
Stark said he has heard that Brady was a Roseburg Forest Products foreman and is still alive, though he hasn’t been able to track him down.
“I’d love to ask him some questions about the car, such as whether it really was white originally,” Stark said.
The uncertainty hasn’t kept Stark from having a blast with the car with the C2 body style he’s admired since he was a junior driving a 1949 Plymouth back and forth to Lawrence Central High School in Indianapolis.
Acquiring the car was a thrill, but even better was the opportunity to get under the hood and do some of the restoration himself — under the watchful eye of a professional mechanic.
“This has been a whole new hobby for me. I missed out on the cars because I was always studying when I was a kid, and later working,” Stark said.
Now Stark shares the pleasure of the Corvette with his wife, Carol Stark, and their dog, Yogi, a 13-year-old bichon frise.
The Indiana native bought the car eight years ago, not long after telling friend Steve Stringer of Roseburg he’d always had a soft spot for the Corvette model manufactured from 1963 to ’67. Stringer got in touch shortly to say he’d found the perfect car for Stark.
“I said, ‘Wait! We were just talking. I’m not ready,’” Stark recalls. But one look at the Corvette, and he knew he had to have it.
The car’s second owner was David Hord, who died in June 2006 at the age of 54. Hord’s News-Review obituary stated that one of the highlights of his life was taking the convertible to Graffiti Weekend.
Stark said Hord bought the car from Brady around 1971. Hord kept the car under shelter and took care of it as best he could, but wasn’t able to invest in costly maintenance. Stark started by getting the brakes repaired by Gene O’Brien at Gene’s Brake & Alignment in Roseburg. From there, he said he was fortunate to get the tutelage of longtime friend and dental patient Marty Shellberg, owner of WSK Machine in Green. Mechanic Patrick Hilburn also did much of the labor on the machine work.
“Marty was kind enough and patient enough to help me work with him on the restoration,” said Stark, who still owned his dental practice at the time. “My day off was Wednesday, so it would sit there all the rest of the week waiting for me.”
Shellberg said the work was made easier by the fact that the car was “what a lot of people call ‘survivors.’ It was a good car to start with and he got all the original pieces with the car.
“A lot of people would love to have it. It handles beautifully, is a good driving car, and (Stark) spent the money and did it right.”
In addition to rebuilding the engine, Stark had the gauges, clock and radio cleaned and repaired, got a new rear axle, did work on the steering and suspension and replaced the springs, muffler and tailpipe. The seats are the original black leather.
Stark replaced the wheels and rims to ensure a smoother and safer ride. Otherwise, he wanted the car to retain its vintage character.
“What I really wanted was to get it to drive the way it would have driven in ’64,” he said.
Of course, not everything is as it was 50 years ago. Stark acknowledged he doesn’t peel out with the car as he might have done at age 17.
“I don’t want to wreck it — or wreck me,” he said.
• You can reach Assistant City Editor Tricia Jones at 541-957-4216 or firstname.lastname@example.org.