Roy Orbison’s Stolen 1967 Chevy Corvette Ended Up in Good Hands

The 1967 Chevy Corvette is a rare classic that many car enthusiasts would love to own. Depending upon the rarity and condition of the model, some Corvettes sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars. The car has a storied history, but one model owned by Roy Orbison changed hands several times, from a man who cherished the car before his untimely death to a famous figure in motorsports.

Here’s the story of this 1967 Corvette and the men who have owned it.

Roy Orbison’s rare 1967 Chevy Corvette

Roy Orbison sits in his room at the Westbury Hotel, London, in March 1967
Roy Orbison in March 1967 | Clive Limpkin/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

According to Hagerty, the 1967 Chevy Corvette “would be the last of the C2 or ‘mid-year’ generation of America’s sports car[s].” Because of this, Chevrolet sold only about 22,940 examples. Today, it’s a popular classic car.

In fact, American singer-songwriter Roy Orbison saw the advent of the 1967 Chevy Corvette and owned one himself.

To this day, his car is the only known 1967 Chevy Corvette with the original motor. The car is rare anyway, but the red and black exterior and the original motor make this one of the rarest 1967 Vettes.

After his passing, Orbison’s Corvette changed ownership to Terry Michaelis, the president of ProTeam Corvette Sales. He bought the car from Barbara Orbison, the musician’s wife. This change in ownership would lead to two others, making for an interesting tale.

How Orbison’s 1967 Vette found a new owner

In 2000, Corvette fan Bob Martin was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Deciding he wanted to live his life to the fullest, he made his dream a reality and purchased a Vette. According to CorvetteBlogger, his passion prompted him to drive 14 hours from Kansas to Ohio. There, he arrived at ProTeam Corvette Sales to meet with Michaelis.

Martin loved the Corvette and purchased it on the spot. With his wife in the passenger seat, he made a beeline for Niagara Falls and enjoyed a vacation. At the time, he said it was one of the best moments of his life. He enjoyed driving the car almost everywhere and was proud that his grandkids told all their friends that their grandfather had a Corvette.

Unfortunately, the story took a turn when a thief stole Martin’s Corvette two years later. He found the car with significant damage, costing around $14,000. So he went back to Michaelis, who fixed and restored the car. Miraculously, it looked like it hadn’t been damaged at all, as though it were in its original condition.

Martin continued to take good care of the Corvette until he decided to sell it. And he found a good owner — former NASCAR driver Rick Hendrick, who now owns Hendrick Motorsports.

Eventually, Martin lost his battle with prostate cancer. But Hendrick has taken excellent care of the Vette. To this day, it remains in showroom condition, the Great Bend Tribune reports.

Could Roy Orbison see well enough to drive?

Seeing his dark glasses, you might wonder whether Roy Orbison was visually impaired. But his trademark look was accidental.

Roy Orbison Jr. told Rolling Stone that his father was about to go on a U.K. tour with the Beatles in 1963. His poor vision required him to wear glasses, but he forgot his regular pair on a plane before the tour. So he slipped his prescription shades on before he took the stage.

And the rest is history.

MORE: 1967 Corvette Looks Incredible After Its First Wash in 30 Years