Car enthusiast's 1980 Corvette is good as gold

Staff writer

Hillsboro car enthusiast Wayne Ollenburger is the keeper of a rare, prize-winning beast: a red 1980 Corvette L-82 series, fully loaded and in mint condition.

If he wanted, he could accent the red interior with gold as he regularly wins gold awards at car shows with it.

“It’ll go. It’s got a 350 engine with a four-barrel carburetor, in it,” he said. “When I take it to shows people just can’t believe it. Everything is original from the factory in ‘80, right down to the tires, except the battery. It’s all stock.”

In 2007, he was especially proud to win three gold awards in the Corvettes USA event in Bloomington, Illinois, where there were 229 other Corvette owners competing in the 1978 to 1982 certification class.

Ollenburger took gold in the “survivor run” event where he drove his Vette 24 miles, and also won gold on a parts inspection event, thus making his Vette eligible to win “benchmark gold,” which he ended up winning along with 19 other corvette owners.

“They had four judges out there checking under the hood, the undercarriage, the interior and exterior to see if it all works and if all the parts are original,” Ollenburger said. “They had me start it to check to see how it works and it took right off; not every car starts right up.”

Everything else worked too, including the electric windows, power steering, tilting steering wheel, brakes, air conditioning, and CB radio.

Ollenburger bought the Corvette from his cousin, Delmer Miller, of Scott City, about 16 years ago, it had only been driven 1,236 miles, Ollenburger said, and now, it only has 1,967 miles on it.

“Delmer didn’t drive it much, he took the kids to church on Sundays and messed around in it a little,” Ollenburger said. “When he got that nasty cancer of the pancreas, he was happy I got the Corvette because he knew I would take care of it.”

Driving it just over 700 miles since he took possession, Ollenburger has kept the Vette in immaculate condition because of his respect for its rarity.

“With its condition and low mileage, I feel like it something you would never find anywhere else,” Ollenburger said.

It has never been wrecked or driven in the rain, he said.

“I really don’t drive it much,” he said. “I guess one of these days maybe I should, but it’s just a nice, nice machine. I take it through parades and to shows, and once in a while I’ll drive it to Marion but I’d never drive it on gravel and I won’t take it out if the road is wet.”

Actually, the furthest it has ever been driven was to a barbecue restaurant in Salina. He has special protective cover he keeps it under in his car shed most of the time.

It has only been through a carwash once because he likes to hand wash and wax its fiberglass body, and detail its interior regularly before car shows.

He drives a 1998 Dodge pickup in day-to-day life, as he refrains from driving his cherry corvette.

“The car is actually spotless,” he said. “People go crazy for it when I wax it. Maybe I’m bragging a bit, but one judge told me not to change anything about it because I’d never find another one like it.”

Last modified Aug. 25, 2016