For Corvette lovers, there’s never been a television contest as memorably as the 1990 VH1 Corvette giveaway… Dennis Amadeo, a carpenter from Long Island, NY won a Corvette for every single year they’d been produced- 1953-1989, and for 25 years the cars have sat relatively ignored and unloved. That is all changing now…
Let’s back up for a second and tell you more about how these 36 Corvettes came to sit in piles of dust in forgotten warehouses… According to Hemmings, a TV produced by the name of Jim Cahill convinced the network they could boost their ratings by giving away 36 Corvettes to some lucky-son-of-a-gun. They said, “Ok,” and Jim spent $610,000 snatching up a Vette for each year. Some were convertibles, most were automatics, and none had particularly special codes or designations. (Sorry, no big block Stingrays here)
VH1 made you call a 1-900 number and charged you $2 to enter the contest which allowed them to quickly recover the $610,000.
Then Dennis Amadeo became the luckiest man in America. Hemmings' Kurt Ernst writes:
Amadeo, who’d placed just a single phone call, was the lucky winner, and the network spared no expense in making the presentation as theatrical as possible. Beach Boy Mike Love was on hand to pass Amadeo a big bag of keys, and ample video of the winner, his wife and their new baby was shot for promotional purposes. When the festivities were over, Amadeo returned to Long Island to await the delivery of his Corvettes.
It didn’t take long before people approached Amadeo to buy his collection, and artists Peter Max negotiated a deal to buy them for $250,000 in cash, $250,000 in Max’s artwork, and a clause in the contract saying Amadeo would get a % of any future proceeds if Max sold the cars at a later date.
Max’s big plans for the epic Corvette collection? He was going to paint them up in crazy colors as an art piece. Max was not a car guy. Max didn’t even drive.
Fortunately, Max didn’t throw paint all over the Vettes. Instead, he just kind of forgot about them.
He still talked a bit about messing with the cars, even saying he was going to buy 14 more in 2010 to make his collection complete through 2003, but he never did.
For the past few decades Corvette-lovers have quietly fumed over the dust collecting on the cars, some parked in public parking garages. Don’t forget… One of these is a 1953- one of only 300 made. It’s ok to be a little pissed Max was just letting them rot.
Well, Corvette fans, today you can let out a big sigh of relief. When Peter Heller & others from his family purchased the collection, they approached Chris Mazzilli for more info about the cars, and we’re happy to report Chris Mazzilli is going to take to restoring some of the Corvettes to their original splendor.
Some will be sold as is when their condition matches their collectibility. Others, however, like the 1953 are well-worth the cost of a restoration, and we have some pictures for you of their restoration:
We’ll keep you updated when these beauties get slated to be sold or hit the auction block! It's safe to assume at least one of these will end up in the National Corvette Museum.
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