Ride Of The Week 08/22/2022: Gary Radford's 1965 Corvette
LIVING FOR THE FALLEN
When I witnessed this beautiful mid-year Vette back into a space at a recent cars & coffee event, it grabbed my attention in more ways than one: throaty side-outlet exhausts, triple taillights, a stinger hood and a deep shine on the “arrest me red” finish. This car had all the classic Sting Ray mods and I had to know more about their history. Turns out, the driver had a whole interesting history of his own.
Gary Radford is the owner of this 1965 Chevrolet Corvette. He’s owned it since he returned from Vietnam in 1970. “The first thing I did was buy this car,” Gary remarked. He also said that the hood & taillights are period mods done by the original owner. “My wife wanted to take it back to stock, but I liked it as it was, so we put the rally wheels on it in place of the Cragars it came with as a compromise.” However, kids soon came along, and the Vette sat idle for much of the period between 1972 and 2014.
Gary says he built a garage with wooden floors to make sure the Vette would be spared any excessive moisture build up until he was ready to pull her out again. In 2013, he started work on restoring the car, first with paint. Then he upgraded the original 327ci/365hp engine with a 427ci small block backed by a Tremec 5-speed.
During the course of our conversation, Gary reflected on what the car meant to him. He was involved in a furious battle in Vietnam at Fire Support Base Ripcord. “We lost a lot of good men, including two under me.” He produced a book about 23-day siege that killed 75 U.S. Servicemen in July of 1970 and flipped thru the pages to share a photo of himself and one of the guys he lost. “I went back to the A Shau Valley and helped locate the site to try to find them. We recovered weapons but didn’t find remains.” Gary is hopeful that his comrades can be found and returned to U.S. soil. Until then he carries these reminders with him in the car that he bought upon his homecoming that year.
Gary then shared that his son, Brian, followed in his footsteps, joining the Army, and becoming a Ranger. Brian also has participated in some significant military history, as part of the Ranger unit that helped rescue P.O.W. Jessica Lynch from captivity in Iraq in 2003. It was the first P.O.W. rescue since WWII an the first of a female soldier.
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