A Set of ’Vettes, Off to Rehab
By Daniel McDermon
OCT. 22, 2014
The New York Times
HICKSVILLE, N.Y. — Chris Mazzilli was at the Old Westbury Gardens car show one Sunday in June, displaying his 1971 Corvette, when a stranger approached with questions about restoration work involving dozens of cars.
Mr. Mazzilli, 49, founder and co-owner of the Gotham Comedy Club in Manhattan — and a serious student of Chevrolet’s sports car who has judged dozens of events — was happy to offer guidance. But the questions kept coming: What about a ’53 Corvette? What about a ’55? What about a ’57?
“Are you talking about the Peter Max Corvettes?” Mr. Mazzilli asked, playing a hunch.
His questioner, Peter Heller, fell silent. After a moment, he answered: “Yes. How did you know?”
Mr. Heller had not yet realized that the cars — a set of 36 Corvettes, one from each year starting with the model’s 1953 debut and continuing through 1989 — were famous among Corvette followers. Not only because they were owned by Mr. Max, the Pop Art star who gained fame in the ’60s for his preternatural ability to capture (and market) the zeitgeist, but also because Mr. Max stored the cars for years in publicly accessible parking garages without much thought for their upkeep.
Members of Corvette forums seethed every time a new photo emerged showing the dust-caked cars in a dim garage. Some wanted Mr. Max to sell the cars or donate the set to a museum. Others didn’t much care who owned the cars: They only wanted to see them — the 1953 example, in particular, one of 300 built that year — restored to their former beauty.
Those people are getting their wish.
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