It was a classic Corvette buff’s dream – the 1990 VH1 contest awarding one lucky winner the unimaginable prize of 36 Chevrolet Corvettes – one from each manufacture year from 1953 through 1989. It was a marketing ploy to help boost the music television network’s dwindling ratings, particularly among its Baby Boomer target market. And though most of the cars, purchased for a grand total of $610,000, were considered “driver” quality, the promotion was deemed a success. Dennis Amodeo, A Long Island carpenter with a hot wife and a new baby, won the contest with a single $2.00 phone call to the 1-900 contest hotline and went home happy. Unfortunately, that was the last that most of America would see of the collection.
The next morning Amodeo received a phone call from famed artist Peter Max, who had spotted the collection at an auto show earlier that year and was struck with the idea of creating a massive art project by painting all of the cars in bold, psychedelic colors, per his trademark look. The two met and struck a deal. Amodeo received $250,000 in cash and $250,000 worth of Max’s art, as well as an agreement for a portion of the proceeds up to $1 million should Max later sell the collection.
Max took position of the collection and… Well, that was pretty much that. Perhaps due to the arguably flighty nature of artists, the project never materialized and the collection remained hidden away in a series of New York City storage garages for the next quarter century.
Fast forward to summer 2014 when Corvette collector and Dream Car Consulting founder Chris Mazzilli was showing his 1971 Corvette at the Old Westbury Gardens car show.
“This guy walks up and starts asking me questions about values and restoration costs on a series of Corvettes,” Mazzilli told Hemmings Daily. “At one point I stopped him and said, ‘You’re talking about the Peter Max Corvettes, aren’t you?’”
That guy turned out to be Peter Heller, whom Max had recently hired to find yet another storage garage for the cars. Instead, Mazzilli helped broker a deal for Heller to buy the collection from Max. Heller since has begun a massive restoration effort. Soon, these 36 pieces of Corvette history will be back on the road and potentially back on the market.
Did you make that $2.00 phone call back in 1990, hoping to win the collection? What would you have done with the cars? Post your thoughts on the E3 Spark Plugs Facebook Fan Page.