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Oxford man to show vintage vette at Autorama

Tom and Bonnie Bailey, of Oxford, pose with their 1964 Corvette Sting Ray. (click for larger version)
February 13, 2013 - Not everybody gets their dream car when they turn 16.

Some folks, like Tom Bailey, have to wait decades.

But when it does happen, not only do they want to enjoy their vehicle, they want to show it off a little.

That's why the 66-year-old Oxford resident will be featuring his gorgeous silver-blue 1964 Chevy Corvette Sting Ray (shown right) at the 61st Anniversary Meguiar's Detroit Autorama March 8-10 at Cobo Center.

"This is my first time at Autorama," said Bailey, who's a member of the North Oaks Corvette Club. "(There's some) prestige to having a car at Autorama. Not everybody gets down there."

Detroit Autorama is an annual winter ritual that draws visitors from across the country and around the world. It's an opportunity for everyone from serious gear-heads to curious observers to get an up-close and personal view of more than 1,000 hot rods, custom cars, trucks, vans and motorcycles of the past and present.

Bailey purchased his vintage vette in 1999, but it took five years worth of repair and restoration work before it was truly ready for the road.

"It was in very bad shape," he said. "It was drivable and it looked good. But once we got into the car, it was in dire need of a lot of things. We took the frame off and took everything apart. We replaced a lot of everything on that car."

All the work was done by a combination of himself, some friends and a few professionals he paid for their services.

"I did a lot of the disassembly (work), the cleaning, the grunt work," Bailey said. "I am not mechanically-inclined, which made it three times worse.

"The best tool in my toolbox is my checkbook. I'd have to sell the car twice to get my money back on it."

For Bailey, owning this classic Corvette is about living out a teenage fantasy.

He chose this car not only because he loves the body style, but because it came out the same year he graduated from Waterford Kettering High School.

Owning a Sting Ray is a far cry from Bailey's first vehicle, a 1961 Ford Starliner.

"It was a big boat of a car," he said.

Bailey also owns corvettes from 1966 and 2009, but the 1964 is "definitely my favorite."

Sting Rays were made from 1963-67.

Bailey is thinking about purchasing the 2014 Corvette, so he'll have two exactly 50 years apart.

"They changed the body style again," he said. "It looks like the old Sting Ray."

Bailey isn't the only local resident who will feature his motorized marvel at Autorama.

Terry Dworin, of Oxford, will be bringing his orange-pearl 1999 Harley Davidson Fat Box to the Cobo Center.

John Bickel, who lives on the Oxford/Brandon border, will be showcasing his black-and-red two-tone 1957 Volkswagen Beetle (or Bug). Bickel has a business (State of Mind Customs) that restores and customizes classic VW Beetles. A few years ago, he restored five 1964 VW Beetles for use in the popular "Max" television ad campaign.

For more information about Autorama, please visit www.autorama.com or call (248) 373-1700. Tickets are $18 for adults and $5 for children ages 6-12. Children age 5 and under are free. Discount tickets are available at O'Reilly Auto Parts.

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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