Article: Rich Martinez's 1959 Saved From the Crusher

March 31, 2022

From Corvette Mike's Thundering Thursday
Courtesy of

It’s time to party like it’s 1959, as in the model year of the classic Corvette that’s been entangled in a legal battle ever since Rich Martinez of Kansas bought it from an out-of-state dealership.

After six years of battling the system, Martinez will be able to finally enjoy what he’s described as his dream car, as the Kansas Governor signed House Bill 2594 into law on March 22nd! The new law will exempt classic vehicles being repaired or restored and would also exempt classic car owners who didn’t know or had no reason to know their car was stolen.

Martinez bought a restored 1959 Corvette for $50,000 from an Indiana dealer in 2016, only to have the car seized when a Kansas state trooper discovered a problem with its VIN during a mandatory registration inspection. Lawmen eventually determined Martinez was an “innocent owner” and didn’t know that during an earlier restoration, the original VIN had been removed, then replaced.

“I’m throwing a party. I’m having a good time,” a now-jubilant Martinez said. “I want to give free rides around the block.”

Unfortunately, during the time in storage in tow lots and a big shed in Topeka, the Corvette has suffered damage – to the tune of an estimated $28,000. No word on who will be paying for that damage, though Martinez has already had to shoulder a $30,000 legal bill fighting the seizure.

“This has been a very costly, and emotional time for me,” he says. “I think that we can do better when there is no crime.”3LT.

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