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Stories from Steve: 1969 Chevrolet Corvair – 22 Miles

It was back in January of 2011 and two important items were on my mind. First, I was constantly analyzing our collection. This was an ongoing thought process because I wanted to increase the number of low-mileage cars we owned but wanted to be positive that new acquisitions fit our criteria. Second, of course, was “what the heck was our criteria?”


I had thought about this criteria problem on and off for years and, I think, developed a good answer. I would let the tour groups give me input (these included automotive groups, local groups, and groups associated with local charities). To my surprise, they not only liked our main criteria of cars from the early 40s through the 90s, but one type of car was mentioned constantly; they liked the cars that made up our Comedy/Curiosity Corner (later solidified as only “Curiosity Corner”). This should not have been a surprise since at least one person at each tour would look towards the opposite end of the building and say “wow, is that a Pacer?” or “wow, is that a Pinto?” etc.


So, basically going into 2011, I knew I must constantly try to find cars that fit in Comedy or Curiosity Corner.

I didn’t have to wait long, since January is the biggest single month of classic car auctions from coast to coast. As always, I studied all the cars being offered and spotted a 22 mile, 1969 Chevrolet Corvair crossing the block at the 2011 Kissimmee Florida Auction being held by Mecum Auctions, Inc.

I quickly called one of Mecum’s sales representatives, Brian Topp, who did a thorough walk-around for me and soon responded, “Steve, the car is excellentdefinitely indicative of a 22-mile car, but the best thing I can say is it arrived here from the Bob McDorman collection.”

That was fantastic news since Bob’s collections were very highly regarded throughout the classic car industry. Therefore, my first step was to research Bob’s life and see how the Corvair came into his collection. Bob McDorman lived and breathed classic cars, especially Corvettes. He was born in 1932 and, as a boy, worked at his father’s International Harvester Dealership until 1952, when he joined a Buick-Pontiac-GMC dealership in London, Ohio. In 1965, he purchased a Chevrolet Dealership in Canal, Winchesterthat was just southeast of Columbus, Ohio. He changed the name to Bob McDorman Chevrolet and built a wonderful landmark dealership over the next forty-five years. His quality and service were known throughout the country.

He also started collecting some of the finest cars in the country (he loved Corvettes) and between 1965 and 2011 he actually assembled and sold three dynamic automobile collections. Finally, in about 2011, he sold his dealership to Jeff Wyler and decided his present collection of cars should be made available to the public. Therefore, our Corvair, along with many Corvettes and other classic cars, were assigned to various Mecum Auctions for sale.

We knew of his illustrious collections and that’s when we learned Mecum was going to sell the Corvair at Kissimmee. After the car arrived here, we noticed a decal on the trunk that read “Rudolf-Phoenix.” I always thought the car was bought new by McDorman and put into his collection. This sent us off on the usual search for additional information, especially why it had so few miles.

In researching Rudolf Chevrolet, we stumbled on a 1996 book of “Fingertip Facts of Corvairs,” in which the early history of many cars was delineated. Our car, VIN # ending in 4465, was actually sold by GM to Rudolf Chevrolet in the 1969 model year. Further research showed that in 1971 the dealership was sold to Lou Grubb who lived in the Phoenix, AZ area. At the time he purchased Rudolph Chevrolet, the 1969 Corvair had not been sold and still had very low dealer miles. Lou took the car home and showed the car throughout the 70s and early 80s at many Phoenix area Cactus Corvair Club events, accumulating about 15 miles. The facts book showed many of these miles were the result of pushing the car off and on its trailer and into the show position.

He sold the GM franchise in 1997 and that is when the Corvair with 15 miles was transported to Charlie Sens Antique Auto Museum in Marion, Ohio. Charlie kept the car on display for a short time until he sold his museum and its contents. At this point, Bob McDorman became the new owner and the car was transported to his collection and was titled in Ohio in 2004.

So, we’ve come full circle and amazingly everybody respected the mileage and we now have a car that is 44 years old (as of 2013) and still has only 22 miles.


Written 2013 by Steve Ames


Addendum (2016) – after reviewing the histories of both Lou Grubb (passed away in 2012) and Bob McDorman (passed away in 2015) I cannot imagine two men who were more alike. Both worked very hard, bought GM dealerships while still young, grew their businesses into very productive franchises, and were very philanthropic, and both realized auto sales must benefit and be fair for both dealer and customer.  


Latest edit: 2/24/2024, JA

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