T. Wayne Lankford grew up in Jenkintown, Pa. next door to Corvette Hall of Fame inductee Chip Miller’s wife Judy and vividly remembers the day Chip pulled into her driveway in a 1969 Monaco Orange Corvette. “It was 1968 and I was still in college. I went out in the driveway and he asked if I wanted to take a ride. I fell in love… with the car, not Chip,” Wayne laughs.
Chip became a real influence on Wayne. “I saw him working on cars in the driveway at Judy’s house, and later in life would see him at Carlisle, the Cavalcade of Corvettes and many other Corvette events. He was an inspiration and knew everything about the Corvette. He was quite a collector and quite a guy.”
In 1969 Wayne would graduate from college, but couldn’t yet afford a Corvette of his own, instead, purchasing a Road Runner that he wishes he still had. Just a few years later, though, he’d find his opportunity.
“I was in Langhorn, Pa. in May of 1972 and stopped in the dealership. There I saw a 1970 Corvette. It was one of the salesman’s demo cars, but it was for sale and in mint condition. It had about 4,000 miles on it and was in my price range, $4,895. I called Chip and he came and looked at it. We took it for a test drive. He said it was perfect, there was nothing wrong with it – so I made a deal. I put $5 down on the car to hold it for three days.”
The 1970 Donnybrooke Green Corvette would become Wayne’s first.
Three years later he met Pattie and they got married. “We both enjoyed the car and showed it with the Corvette Club of Delaware Valley at Bryner Chevrolet in Jenkintown (the club’s sponsor). Later we bought a house, which then gave us a lot more work to do. We ended up letting the car sit.”
An accident at home in 2006 that prevented Wayne from being able to drive the Corvette anymore caused it to do even more sitting. “My wife said I either needed to restore it or sell it. So, I decided to restore it. It was the best decision I ever made!”
Wayne, Pattie and their good friend Mark Snyder, owner of Performance Car Factory, would spend the next eleven months restoring the Corvette. “It wasn’t a frame-off restoration, but just about everything was off the car. My wife always told me that there would never be any kind of automobile part in our kitchen. When we were restoring the ’70, Mark took the wiring harness off, all the wires, chrome and vacuum hoses, and Pattie was going to clean them and polish them up. She was working in the garage and sweating, but suddenly those parts came into the kitchen so that she was working in the air conditioning,” Wayne laughs. “She did a fantastic job, she really helped out.”
The Lankfords have owned several other Corvettes including a Silver 2006 Z51 Coupe, an Arctic White 2013 Anniversary Edition Coupe, an Arctic White 2017 Grand Sport (which they still own), and they just picked up a Lime Rock Green 2014. But it’s the 1970 that has always been in the garage.
“My wife and I have family, but no one who would really appreciate the car. We couldn’t see something that I bought so long ago, that was my first love, just be sold to someone. It’s all original.”
Wayne and Pattie have enjoyed the Corvette hobby together and will continue enjoying it. “She was a great driver of the C3 and really chirped all four gears. We also went to Ron Fellows and did the performance drive together. We not only participate in activities with our club, CCDV, but also belong to the Tri State Corvette Club and go to their shows. I thought it was time to go ahead and donate the 1970, and what better institution than NCM.”
The couple are already planning a visit to the Museum to see their 1970. “We intend to come down in late spring or early next fall, once everything’s over with COVID and at least see the car. We’re glad it’s going to be there, taken care of, and people can appreciate it as we did.”
Thank you to Wayne for the donation of his first Corvette. We look forward to sharing it with others!