PITTSBURGH — Jim Kevan paid $6,000 for his Bryar Blue 1972 Chevrolet Corvette convertible with white top, 454 block engine, and four-speed transmission.
He was 21, and the muscle-car scene was big back then.
“I would race my 1967 (Pontiac) GTO across the McKees Rocks Bridge, and the only thing that would beat me was a Corvette,” the Pittsburgh-area resident said, referring to a local bridge. “So the Corvette became a dream car of mine.”
When he got the car home from the Chevrolet dealership, though, he was shocked to learn he couldn’t afford to drive it.
“I couldn’t afford to pay the insurance. It made me absolutely sick that I couldn’t drive the car,” said Kevan, 67.
It would have cost $1,200 a year to insure the Corvette. Not wanting to risk driving the car uninsured, he parked it, figuring he would start driving it when was 25 and the insurance would drop to $400 a year.
“Four years later, I had a wife, a son, a daughter, and a new house. At the point, even $400 a year was too much to pay,” he said. “But I didn’t think I’d be putting the car away for 45 years.”
But he did.
A friend pointed out after it had sat idle for a decade that the low mileage on his car would make it more valuable.
“I got to thinking that if I kept my Corvette under 1,000 miles I’ll have a one-of-a-kind someday,” he said.
After several trips back and forth to the dealership, the car sat in storage, its existence known only to friends of Kevan, until recently.
It has just 914 miles on it.
In July, “Vette” magazine published a story in its Rare Finds section on a 1972 Corvette with 3,749 miles discovered in Canada. Kevan called the writer, Jerry Heasley, and told him about his low-mileage convertible. The publication followed with a feature story that has generated a lot of interest.
“I am being bombarded with calls and emails from people all over the country,” Kevan said.
He didn’t want to say exactly where he resides for fear of more attention to the Corvette and his other cars.
While he doesn’t have any immediate plans for the car, he says everything has its price.
“I’m retired, we aren’t hurting, but we live pay to pay,” he said. “If someone makes me a great offer, I’d probably take it.”
Kevan admitted he is a bit of a hoarder when it comes to cars. He still owns his first car — the 1967 GTO — as well as a 1966 Corvette coupe that he takes out to car cruises.
“Money is great, but it isn’t everything,” he said. “You know, that car was my baby back when I was 21. I have some nice memories with it. Who knows? Maybe I’ll take it out and finally drive it past that 1,000-mile mark.”
Had he bought the car he was eyeing when he was Corvette shopping, Kevan said, he would have an even more valuable vehicle.
“I walked in wanting a ZR1 racing engine,” Kevan said. “The salesman told me, ‘Son, you don’t want that car; you won’t be able to handle it.’ And I let him talk me out of it.”
Only 20 ZR1 Corvette convertibles were produced in 1972.
“I had the car in my hands and I let it slip away, but maybe it was for the best. Who’s to say if I got the ZR1 engine that I could have left it sit in the garage,” he said. “Maybe then I might have been tempted to drive it, then wrapped it around a pole.”