Bob Martin can only see his classic Corvette Stingray in dreams, since selling it to former race car driver Rick Hendrick. But Martin isn’t crying after parting with the rare car that was once owned by singer Roy Orbison.
After more than a decade in Great Bend, the car has moved to Hendrick Motorsports in Charlotte, N.C.
Great Bend resident Martin said he sold the 1967 Corvette Stringray to Hendrick, owner of the top NASCAR auto racing team, toward the end of 2011.
American singer-songwriter Roy Orbison (1936-1988) had a number of hit recordings, including "Oh Pretty Woman," "In Dreams" and "Only the Lonely." Before his death in 1988 he joined the supergroup The Traveling Wilburys, which also included George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne.
"I bought the car through a broker from Mrs. Orbison in 2000," Martin recalled. The black car with red exterior was a rarity, and its 427 cubic inch engine with 435 horsepower made it even more rare. Orbinson ordered the car with no power steering or air conditioning.
"It was just like it came off the showroom floor," Martin said. The car was stolen out of his garage in 2003, and later recovered. The Martins took it back to the place they’d purchased it in Ohio to be repaired.
Hendrick displays the corvette at his private museum, along with a guitar signed by Orbison and other members of The Traveling Wilburys.
"It’s a rare car," Hendrick said in a telephone interview with the Great Bend Tribune. Hendrick also commented on the "showroom condition" of the corvette he purchased from the Martins. "That car was like their baby."
Henrick, 62, has a number of cars in his collection, including his first one, a 1931 Chevrolet he rebuilt when he was 14 years old.
Bob and Carol Martin are known for their collection of Christmas displays. In 1976 they opened Christmas Fantasy Village south of Great Bend. That former attraction became the inspiration for the Great Bend Trail of Lights.