Custom Cruise Friday?
A classic 1964 Chevy Corvette Sting Ray, like this week’s Custom Cruise Friday feature, is unlikely to go anywhere without being noticed or drawing at least a modicum of attention. In a somewhat ironic plot twist, that is exactly the kind of thing its owner, Gary Ferguson tries to avoid. He bought the car from a member of the United States Air Forced stationed in Edmonton in 1967 and modified the car for racing purposes. In 1979, the humble farmer and long-time Don Wheaton shop foreman put the car in storage for nearly 40 years; pulling it out in June of 2016.
Check out other Custom Cruise Friday Corvettes
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“I always wanted a Corvette; I don’t know why,” Ferguson said. “I looked at a lot of Corvettes and (this) was the best one I liked.”
Finding the perfect car
Ferguson found a classified advertisement for the car in the Edmonton Journal in 1967 just a few years after taking a job as a mechanic’s apprentice in the Don Wheaton Service Department. The Corvette started life in California and found its way to Edmonton with an U.S. airman assigned to work at the Edmonton airport. The American serviceman needed money to buy a house and Ferguson wanted a Corvette. He spent a few years racing the car before realizing that being continually modified for competition wasn’t the life the 1964 Corvette Sting Ray was meant to live.
“The 1963-1967 Sting Ray is the most desirable and best-looking of the Corvettes, in my opinion,” Ferguson said.
Storing a classic
Ferguson may have been in possession of the car he always wanted to own. But that doesn’t mean life stops or that circumstances won’t change.
“It just happened. I wanted to keep (the Corvette),” Ferguson said. “I just didn’t get itchy to drive it. I was starting to the farming thing by myself.”
As outstanding of a vehicle the 1964 Corvette Sting Ray is, it isn’t terribly suited for the needs of a farmer. Over the next 37 years when the car was in storage, Ferguson would work his way up through the ranks of the Don Wheaton Service Department, working closely with founder Don Wheaton. Additionally, Ferguson has been a personal witness to the many transformations of the historic Don Wheaton GM property on Whyte Avenue.
Getting back on the road
In June of 2016, Ferguson got the itch to drive his Corvette Sting Ray again. With the help of current Don Wheaton Shop Foreman Dean Rempel, the pair got the car ready to leave the storage garage and put rubber to the road again. There is little doubt that Ferguson’s experience as a General Motors mechanic helped make the rejuvenation process as easy as it could be after nearly 40 years. New brake cylinders, an oil change and some new hoses was about all it took to get the car back on the road.
Under the hood sits a 327 cubic-inch small block V-8 making 365 horsepower with a four-speed manual transmission. According to Ferguson, this is the third engine that has been in the car. After buying the car from the American airman, a power plant more suited for drag racing was installed. Nobody makes it through life batting 1.000 with out making a mistake here or there. Ferguson’s error with the 1964 Corvette Sting Ray came with selling the car’s original engine which, today, would have contributed to the Corvette’s provenance, especially because it has so few miles on the odometer.
“It’s worth what you think it’s worth,” Ferguson said. “I never through of it as being a money thing.”
Ferguson has zero plans to sell the car. It’s already the time of year when the car has to go back into storage for the winter. But the anticipation of the next driving season is already getting to him.
“It’s not really highway friendly. All I want to do is cruise in it,” Ferguson said. “If the sun is in the right position and the wind isn’t that high, I might drive it.”
Do you have a special vehicle in your garage? We would love to tell your story. Send some photos and pertinent information to Don Wheaton Brand Manager, Melina Kawecki, by email – firstname.lastname@example.org.