Dream Car Restorations NY in Hicksville has restored more than its share of Corvettes, but the company these days is in the middle of what is likely the biggest such restoration in history — 36 classic Corvettes, one each year starting with 1953, when the car was introduced, to 1989.
They’ll be raffled off to 36 winners to raise money for the National Guard Educational Foundation, providing scholarships to military families, in a kind of “Vettes for vets” arrangement. Tickets are $3 donations to that charity with deals for multiple tickets at corvetteheroes.com. The project is the focus of The Lost Corvettes, reality show on the History Channel. The six-episode series debuted Nov. 23 and airs at 10 p.m. on Saturdays.
“It was unbelievable,” says Chris Mazzilli, who owns Dream Car Restorations. “These cars sat for 25 plus years caked in dust. It’s really the greatest Corvette barn find in history.”
The cars are in a garage on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. VH1 in 1989 assem- bled this collection of 36 Corvettes and raffled them off. Two million tickets later, a carpenter from Long Island won.
Artist Peter Max bought the collection to use the cars as a canvas for his art. But the collection gathered dust, so Max sold them to Scott Heller and his sons Michael and Adam Heller and cousin Peter Heller, as well as real estate associates Gary, Adam and Fred Spindler.
The new group turned to Mazzilli, a known Corvette expert, for advice and restoration. Jim Cahill, who came up with the idea for the original sweepstakes for VH1 in 1989, suggested a sweepstakes for charity this time as well. Mazzilli, who also owns Gotham Comedy Club and produces TV comedy specials and series, came up with the idea for a reality show.
“Nothing like this has been done before,” Michael Heller says.
What’s life like for these Long Islanders-turned-reality-TV stars?
“I’m pretending the cameras aren’t there,” Mazzilli says. “It’s fun. I’m more about getting the word out about the hobby, the charity, and sweepstakes.”
Michael Heller sees the show as spinning wheels of fortune to benefit military families.
“It’s American history,” he says, noting that restoring the cars is also a major part of the mission. “We’re lovers of Corvettes.”
To sign up for the sweepstakes, you must be 18 or older; and visit corvetteheroes.com, facebook.com/corvetteheroes/ or @CorvetteHeroes on Instagram and Twitter by April 30, 2020. Drawings will be held in May.