The scheduled public unveiling August 24 at a public event in Carlisle, Pa., of the long-lost, recently found 1960 Chevrolet Corvette, campaigned at the 24 Hours of Le Mans by sportsman Briggs Cunningham, was cancelled abruptly after a man from Tampa, Fla., presented documents claiming the car had been stolen.
The odd turn of events was explained by Lance Miller, the organizer of the Corvettes at Carlisle and the man who was to have been identified publicly Friday as the car’s new owner, in the following statement:
“We had hoped to present the 1960 No. 1 Le Mans Corvette to you today. As you probably know, after I purchased the car in Florida and brought it to Pennsylvania, we held an event last night to reveal it. As you also know, I have sold the car to a third party, who wishes to remain anonymous at this time. Unfortunately, for security reasons, the car has had to be moved to an undisclosed location. While I am disappointed, as I am sure you are, it was important to respect the buyer’s wishes in this matter. I have confidence that the car will be well cared for, and we hope to have it back here in Carlisle at a future show looking better than ever.”
Mr. Miller had purchased the car from Rick Carr, of St. Petersburg, Fla., sometime last month. The transaction was apparently consummated on a Bill of Sale, not a title.
Meanwhile, Dan Mathis Jr., who identified himself to me as a retired Florida law enforcement official, is brandishing a Certificate of Title for the car, issued by the State of Florida, in his name.
“The car belonged to my father, Dan Mathis Sr., and was purchased by him from Jerry Moore of Tampa in the mid-1970s,” Mr. Mathis said. His father died in 1993. “We can show a continuous chain of title in our family since 1974.”
Mr. Mathis said the car, drag-raced by his father in central Florida, was stolen in the late 1970s, and “disappeared for 35 years”. How did the Mathis Corvette, made over in sort of cherry-chocolate custom paint and bodywork scheme, turn up 35 years later in a storage warehouse of a Florida judge, Richard Carr (Rick’s father)?
“Great question,” Mr. Mathis said.
Mr. Mathis said he traveled from Florida to Pennsylvania to meet with Mr. Miller and his associate Kevin Mackay, of Corvette Repair, Inc. But he said he was refused a meeting.
“The Miller Group and Kevin Mackay have been in this business for 30 years; they know better than this,” Mr. Mathis told me. “All they have to do, is do the right thing. It just stuns me that they have instead decided to involve themselves in a criminal enterprise, for which I am going to seek prosecution.”
When contacted about Mr. Mathis’ claims, Mr. Miller emailed back, “This is news to me, I’ll have my council [sic] look into it. Thank you, Lance”
I did not immediately receive any further word from Mr. Miller, in answer to additional questions I posed.
I have obtained a copy of Mr. Mathis’ valid Certificate of Title from the State of Florida, and will be posting it on this blog, along with other documents in the next 24 hours. For an update on this story, including a photo of the title: http://jerrygarrett.wordpress.com/2012/08/26/florida-man-presses-his-claim-for-1-cunningham-corvette/
For more background on this story, please check our these earlier columns:
August 25, 2012