HUMMING WEST THROUGH MONTANA’S Rocky Mountains Driving a 45-foot Entegra Cornerstone coach weighing 20,000 pounds, Giovanni Di Stadio, 48, wants to talk about other motor vehicles, the antithesis of the Entegra Cornerstone in design and function: classic European sports cars, exotic cars and American muscle cars.
In particular, he talks from Big Sky Country about a 1962 Chevrolet Corvette like no other, a creation weighing around 3,000 pounds over a length of less than 15 feet. “This car – I call it a museum piece, a piece of art. You could never use it for its intended purpose,” he said, speaking to a reporter by phone from the mountains outside of Billings.
This is the most pristine 1962 Corvette in the world, apparently, a gleaming red rocket that no one has ever driven, Mr. Di Stadio says. So far, however, it is not the most famous. This was presented to St. Louis Cardinal slugger Mark McGwire as a team gift after hitting his 62nd home run in 1998.
A series of unusual historical circumstances left the old Corvette still new, 60 years later.
In 1962 the car was shipped in crates – body in one, transmission and engine in another, rear in a third – to a drag racing and road racing driver who died before he could assemble it. His widow took possession of it, reselling it years later, still in cash, to another Corvette enthusiast.
“This owner took the engine and transmission out of the crates and installed them, but never turned the key,” says Mr Di Stadio. The owner then sold it to the Floyd Garrett Muscle Car Museum in Sevierville, Tennessee, where it remained for a few years until the museum closed in 2020 and Mr. Garrett died the following year. The car then went to its current owner in Michigan.
This man has now hired Mr. Di Stadio, a newcomer to the business of buying and selling high-end classic cars, to find a new owner.
The first thing he points out would have been the most unlikely recommendation 60 years ago, when Chevrolet produced just 14,534 Corvettes at a base selling price of $4,038 (about $39,000 today): Buy this beauty if you like, with its all original tires. But don’t count on driving it.
You could do it with one of the roughly 100 other 1962 Corvettes still raving and rolling, and for prices in today’s market ranging from around $30,000 for a car in good condition up to almost $100,000, or more, for a ’62’ Vette in excellent condition, auto experts estimate.
But it’s different.
“You would destroy the value of this car if you started it and chased it. So the car is static art,” says Mr. Di Stadio, who ditched his more than 25-year-old interior design business in Palm Beach County so he could talk — and sell — for clients who own them – some of the most elaborate, nimble and elegant alliances of automotive sculpting and highly technical internal combustion on the planet.
Now, with two partners, Mr. Di Stadio sells cars through his second career, first love affair: MPG Motorcars, in Stuart, about 45 minutes north of West Palm Beach. The company manages car collections, restores individual machines, details machinery and provides a host of other services for what are arguably the finest and most inventive models of the 20th century. MPG is also getting into the conversion business – turning classic cars into electric vehicles.
Current MPG Motorcars inventory, listed online at www.mpgmotorcars.comincludes a 1960 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud, a 1991 Jaguar XJ, two Porsche 911s, one from 1996 and the other from 1998, and a 1989 Jeep Grand Wagoneer, listed at over $120,000.
That’s not a lot of money, relatively.
The Lamborghinis and Ferraris he sold? Not even close, financially, to the value of ’62’ Vette, the largest diamond in his proverbial ring, in his opinion. The car is probably worth more than 10 times any of those other cars.
In a press release, Mr. Di Stadio listed the price this way: “$, $$$, $$$.”
For comparison, a 1967 Chevy Corvette L88 Coup fetched $3.85 million at a 2014 auction in Scottsdale, Arizona, the most expensive ever, according to Moneyinc.com. But Chevy only made 20 that year.
In selling customers’ cars, Di Stadio says, he typically receives a 10% commission. His goal isn’t so much the money as it is to work with these cars and the people who love them, he notes.
“I’ve been interested in cars since my early teens (in New York, where he grew up),” he explains. “I found it fascinating. My dad was a bank vice president, but he collected cars and hot rods. I always helped him.
“The dealership side of the business is new to me. I’ve started amassing a nice collection of classic cars, and my CPA advised me: he said, ‘You buy and sell these cars, you might consider buying and selling these cars. ‘Get your dealer’s license, turn your hobby into a tax-writing business…off.’ The time had come, so I did.
And now this.
A Corvette website, www.corvsport.comdescribed the 1962 models thus: “Despite its origins and undeniable ties to the very first Corvette (in 1953), the 1962 was faster, better handled, more physically appealing, and was the most fully realized and civilized of them all. Corvette manufactured to this day, although it retained much of the pioneering imagination that made the 1953 Harley Earl concept car such a triumph when it was unveiled at the 1953 Motorama.”
With fuel injection, the ’62’ Vette could produce 360 horsepower and a top speed of over 130 miles per hour.
It was the year John F. Kennedy faced the Soviets in the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Beatles recorded “Love Me Do”, average annual income was $5,556, gas was 28 cents a gallon and the average cost of a new car was $3,125, according to thepeoplehistory.com. Not only that, but professional race car driver Rodger Ward won the Indianapolis 500 for the second time in a car powered by an Offenhauser engine running at an average speed of over 142 mph.
Here’s how Mr. Di Stadio got into this car’s story: A neighbor near his Michigan summer home introduced it to the neighbor’s brother.
“So we went to see him by car,” says Mr Di Stadio. “He has an amazing collection of cars, mostly American, with very low mileage or completely restored down to the nuts and bolts.”
One of those cars was the 1962 Corvette.
“He showed me the car and told me the story, then asked me: ‘You are a car expert, you have a dealership, what do you think it’s worth?’
“And I said, ‘It’s north of a million, easily.
“In the right room with the right Corvette monsters, or at an auction, the sky’s the limit. Go find another one like this car. There isn’t one.
At the moment, he has checked in with two or three collectors to gauge their interest, including former Tonight Show host Jay Leno, famous for his collection of classic cars.
“We haven’t heard from Jay,” Mr. Di Stadio said.
But whatever. This 1962 Vette may never reach a starting line. But when it gets to a bidding block, it can go faster than any other car in its class. ¦