SIDNEY — Reuniting with his late father’s 20-year-estranged Corvette brings a full-circle moment to Shelby County native, Justin Carter.
Former Sidney City Councilmember Gary Carter always taught his son Justin if you work hard, you can achieve your goals and reward yourself.
“The Corvette represented hard work to me. He also taught me to respect your belongings and take care of responsibilities,” Justin Carter said of his father’s life lessons.
Gary always promised to pass down his beloved 1985 Chevrolet Corvette, bought brand new, to his son. But things don’t always go as planned.
In 1996, during a need for cash to construct a garage at the family’s lake home, Gary temporally sold the vehicle to his brother. He fully intended to buy it back later, when in a better financial situation; sadly however, Gary passed away of cancer two years later, and never repossessed the car.
Justin said it was “very troubling” that the car didn’t stay within the family. He was too young at the time — only 14-years-old — when his father passed away, to be able to buy the car back from his uncle. Also, Justin’s mother was suddenly thrust into head of household on a school teacher’s salary. She couldn’t afford to re-buy the car, so Gary’s brother sold it to a Sidney resident who eventually moved to Florida.
Justin lamented over never experiencing an adult friendship with his dad, but said the car was a unifying interest for the two of them.
“Regardless if the car was driven, my father and I would still wash it weekly. He loved (the) Corvette and was a member of the Sidney Corvette Club,” Justin said. “Cars were always a favorite topic that my father and I would connect on. Together we traveled to go see drag races and went to many car shows.”
After graduating from Anna High School, Justin moved to Louisiana to attend college, like his sister, but never forgot about his dad’s promise, or the car.
Eventually Justin moved to Texas and founded Green Stream Solutions, an oilfield chemical manufacturer and supplier. After experiencing some success with his business, the first thing he could think of to reward himself was his dad’s Corvette.
Justin began researching the car in the fall of 2013, and was surprised to learn it had a clean Carfax report. It had very low miles and was still owned by the man who bought it from his uncle 20 years earlier. Then Justin learned this year that after 31 years, the Corvette was “basically in new condition,” with only 61,000 miles on it.
He said he would have paid much more than he did to obtain the vehicle, but the owner only charged him blue-book value.
“I was prepared to do whatever it took, but the guy was great,” Justin said. “(He) sold me the car at very fair price and made my dream come true. I am very pleased and will forever be appreciative for (his) kindness.
“I applied the lessons that my father taught me, using the Corvette representing a symbol of rewards from hard and achieving goals,” Justin said. “The Corvette was delivered back to me in March 2016. The car’s condition exceeded my expectations in every way.”
Justin said the Corvette is “just a car, but just an absolutely cool thing to have of somebody … I can’t even believe it turned out like that” as a way to remember and remain close to his dad.
“If you want something bad enough, you can go get it, I guess, with a little bit of luck,” he said.
After not seeing the vehicle in 21 years, he realized it was very important to him, relieving and rewarding to have it back in his possession.
“So many details; it was the same exact car. I couldn’t even believe it. Even the car cover, the paperwork — this magazine thing that my dad had put together, in a folder it had — everything was the exact same thing that my dad got rid of 20 years earlier,” Justin said. “I just completely lucked out that that guy had ended up having it and keeping it. Nobody would have ever kept up with that car that much.”
“I’m gonna keep this car forever. It’s just absolutely cool how it worked out, because a car is just a lot cooler than certain things that people might keep of their loved ones,” he said of his long-term intent. “The car isn’t going anywhere.”
Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.