Live Auctions

Shiny But Rusty: 1965 Corvette Coupe


At first glance this ’65 Corvette looks to be in amazing shape. The paint is glossy and bright, the body is straight and the stance is perfect, but take a closer look underneath and the view quickly changes. Reader Craig B shared this find with us and he thinks this find might have been underwater at some point in time. After looking at the frame, I think he might be right. That being said, for the right price this one would be worth restoring. It’s a 365 horsepower car with a 4 speed, off road exhaust, AM/FM radio and Positraction rear end. The seller pulled it from a barn back in 2011 and hasn’t done much with it since, but hopefully the next owner can get it back on the road. If you are up for the challenge, you can bid on it here on eBay in Sawyer, Michigan.


This find really is deceiving. It looks so good from the outside, but so bad from the underside. This isn’t even the worst of the corrosion, but I felt it gave you a good idea of the extent of the issues. This isn’t the kind of rust a car gets just from being somewhere humid, this is the kind of damage that comes from being submerged in water and then left to rust.


The seller never comes out and states that this car is a victim of water damage, but it’s really looking like a flood survivor. When it comes to buying project cars, there are two types of damage to always be careful of, fire and water damage. Both can leave a car severally damaged and difficult to fix. I still believe that this one would be worth restoring, but only if you can get it for the right price. So do you see this one having a future or is it too far gone?


  1. Bingo

    In Minnesota, where the humidity is high, a car sitting on an unheated concrete garage floor will do this. In the spring, when the ground thaws, the moisture will come up through the concrete and settle on the undercarriage. I don’t know if the same thing happens in Michigan.

    Like 1
    • al8apex

      It does

      This was probably just driven through the salted road winters for the 1st several years of its life

      It IS in Michigan, cars ROT there

      Like 1
    • Myron

      I used to live in Michigan many years ago and trust me when I tell you this is Michigan rust. Like Bingo said in the spring the moisture comes up from the ground. I used to have a 30×40 pole barn with a concrete floor and when you would open it up to work on something it almost appeared as if there was a heavy fog coming out of the garage.

      Like 1
    • Dan

      It happens in Michigan also. The one year I had to store my car in a storage locker, I put down a plastic tarp to keep the moisture down. Worked well.

      Like 1
  2. Luke Fitzgerald

    I bet the wheels didn’t spin 11 years ago – and still don’t

  3. James Scott

    Looks exactly like a car sitting in the dirt would . Not so much a car that is the victim of a flood. IMHO

    Like 1
  4. PaulG

    The ad states: parked on dirt floor barn for 26 years.
    The car looks like al8apex stated, driven in the winter on salty roads for at least the first few years, then as James stated, parked for 26 years on a dirt floor.
    It appears to be a legit car, no signs of being underwater, just needs rust repair.
    Seems a little high price wise.

    Like 1
  5. Rick

    The only right way to tackle this is to get the body off the frame and see exactly what you have. Not as daunting a task as it sounds. Once the body is out of the way access to all the problems is easy. Been there, done that!

    Like 1
  6. DLM

    Agree with the other comments, does not appear to have been underwater. The most important part is that the birdcage is not rusted. So the job is to get a frame and build the suspension. A lot easier than to start with a bad body and a good frame/suspension. Also agree the price seems a little high.

  7. Bobsmyuncle

    Put me in the NO flood damage camp.

  8. Van

    Drill out body bolts, cut suspension with a torch, don’t spend to much time saving parts that can be easily replaced. Presto changeo your only slightly Upside-down.

  9. RandyS

    I’ve seen much worse. This is fixable, but not at $42k.

  10. Oingo

    No expert here but I don’t see water mud, mold lines etc that might be present and the oily/greasy parts are not rusty, being submerged would have likely washed off the grease/oil and corrosion would be present, take a look inside something like the starter if there was water in there evidence should be apparent.

  11. Al D

    Looks just like the rust under the car I just pulled out of a 20+ years slumber in a dirt floor barn about an hour from there. Exactly. Typical Midwest stuff.

  12. daCabbie

    A wire brush will knock that rust right off…

    Like 1
    • Tom Member

      Sorry, you have plenty of rust-through, a wire brush will just cause it to fall apart.

      I am a rust expert. This is not a flood car. Most comments above are accurate. Dirt floor will do it in the Midwest. MOST LIKELY the barn had GRAVEL in it, which is “raw lime” and will have this effect at the highest level, concreted is lime, just not raw, same process and problem, just slower. Gravel will eat it alive !

      Little tip, don’t park on gravel or dirt. Park on a hard surface and park the car on a full layer of plywood. the plywood will absorb the moisture first, minimizing this problem.

      This is true for your “restored car” in its winter storage WHEN YOU PARK YOUR DAILY DRIVER in the same garage in states where you have snow and salt. WORSE YET is if your garage is heated. Your daily driver is SATURATED, pulling into the garage with your stored car, the moisture filled with salt gravitates to your DRY stored car. A heated garage melts down the daily driver further encouraging this process. If your garage is below freezing, your daily driver stays “frozen” which in this case is BETTER for both the daily driver and your collector car.

      I agree that, in part, it was driven as a “driver when new” in the MI salt which got the ball rolling. Improper storage added to the problem.

      Frame off time for this one, it is worth it.

      • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

        Tom is 100% correct. I thought I was the only car guy who understood why bare concrete was just as bad [or worse] than dirt or gravel. I prefer to use the heavy duty silver tarps laid out over the concrete, even better if you put plywood over the tarp. I used to store cars in a dirt floor shed, silver tarps on the flattened & graded dirt, tamped down, then treated plywood. And don’t forget to use a good duct tape on the tarp seams where they overlap. I had that floor in the shed for over 15 years and it was still dry and no rot on the plywood.

        I’ve brought back several serious flood cars, including a Rolls-Royce Silver Spur and a Volvo P1800. To spot a flood car, check the inside of the instruments, look in thru the glass fronts. Any flood water will have sediment and will leave a fine light tan deposit inside the sealed gauges. Switches, especially headlight “pull” type ones, are often corroded to the point where they will not work. If you can get your hand up under the dash assembly, rub your fingers over various surfaces. A light coating of dust particles is normal. That light tan, fine dust is not – a sure sign of a flood.

        Flood cars with leather seating surfaces are easy to spot – leather shrinks terribly when it’s allowed to dry after being soaked thru. Seating surfaces literally curl up their edges & split along the seam lines.

        If the car has sealed electronic computer control boxes, remove or loosen them, shake to check for water inside. [you’ll hear it slosh around if it’s there]. To get water inside one of these sealed electronics boxes requires sustained water pressure, typical result of being underwater for a day or 2. Even a few feet of water can cause this problem.

        And the smell test: if the seats, carpets, and other porous items smell like mildew when you put your nose near it, It’s probably a flood car. If it’s a 1970s or newer car, and it’s been thru a flood, unless it’s a high $ car [Like the Rolls-Royce Silver Spur “Centennial”, one of only 25 built and worth in excess of $100k when I tackled it’s flood issues], walk away, fast!

  13. hhaleblian

    I drive through Sawyer monthly. Think I’ll take a looksee.

  14. Jay M

    Anybody else notice all of the old blue over spray on top of the rust?
    Wouldn’t be the first “Candy apple shell with a rotten core…vette”


    • Al D

      Nope. That’s rust blooming through original paint overspray. It pops out from underneath. Also common in that environment.

      Like 1
      • Tom Member

        Al D, you are perhaps partly correct but

        Jay M, listing did say it has had one repaint.

  15. chris lawrence

    Price is too high. 33k to 35k would be about right. And that is IF the rust only pertains to the frame/suspension components.

  16. Dolphin Member

    Yep, looks like rust belt. Rusts in the winter with the salt, and then just keeps on rusting the rest of the year.

    In the rust belt where I once lived the only way to prevent this was an oil spray on all the underside metal, plus holes drilled usually in the door sills, and oil sprayed into the inside of the rockers. They used an oil that didn’t drip too much so that a lot of it would stay on, but it had to be reapplied every fall or the car would rust anyway. A lot of people forgot or didn’t bother with the reapplication, so it remained the rust belt.

    • Tom Member

      This IS true and is one way. My family started Ziebart Rustproofing here in Chicago 52 years ago. 40 years with Ziebart, now independent, we are the longest – in business here in Illinois serving as Rust Experts, preventative and restorative. Done correctly (like anything else in life) it worked. Annual inspections only help as you mentioned. Reapplications with the proper undercoating and upper body rust protection materials do not require annual reapplications.

      Road salt, where used is just getting more intense, longer lasting thus more corrosive which is eating at our vehicles, roads and bridges thus all 3 are falling apart.

      Things still rust……oh and Ford, that Aluminum F150 doesn’t rust, it has corrosion (same thing, different form). It is true, the body of that F150 will NOT rust. everything under the truck is not aluminum and will rust like crazy. Oh and again, the body WILL corrode. Ever see a battery terminal white, fuzzy and falling apart?

      I had an 04 F150 here today, underbody / under bed completely rusted and falling apart. the Rhino Liner we put in the Bed 12 years ago was the ONLY thing holding the bed together.

      I forewent our undercoating because the “new car dealer” took care of that. (sorry they didn’t and they lied !) I know, a car dealer lying !!??

      My 2 cents. I am out.

      • Tom Member

        sorry, I meant to say “HE forewent (the owner) our undercoating because the
        “new car dealer” took care of that.

      • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

        Tom — I’ve bought several cars over the years that had those little black plastic plugs marked with the Ziebart Logo. These cars always had ZERO body or frame rot. I had Studebaker larks & hawks, notorious for rusting because they had cheaper steel, but those with Ziebart were rust free. [An unknown Studebaker saying is: Studebaker – where the rust begins before the paint is dry!

        I had a 1956 Packard 400 2-door hardtop. The car came from upper New York, but had the Ziebart plugs & coatings. Those cars always rusted, especially in the headlight areas, rockers and rear fenders. This car never had ANY rust, no bumps in the body from rust under the lead seams, nothing.

      • Tom Member

        To Bill M, thanks for sharing your Ziebart and Rust Proofing stories. Having been a part of that my entire life, always good to hear. Don’t get me wrong, you can take a good product (in any industry) install or apply it incorrectly and there will be problems and short comings.

        Trick of the trade was to coat the hole, plug it and then wipe off the excess. Many guys sprayed the hole, wiped it off, then plugged it OR did not spray the drilled hole at all. Those 2 versions would cause rust at the drilled hole.

        Bill, thanks for your info on flood cars. Very good to know.

        I always say, use the best products you can, install or apply to the best level and 99% you will end up with a good result. I am still Undercoating and Rust Proofing today..they salt the heck out of things here in Chicagoland……in fact signing off to go do one now, a 2016 Aluminum Body F150, imagine that!

  17. RoughDiamond

    I learned a hard lesson about concrete over gravel on top of dirt. I had just purchased an all original ’63 MGB from a guy who had owned it for as long as I could remember. I did not have room for it and so asked my grandmother who lived 65 miles away on a farm if she’d let me store it in the one car garage of her colonial style home. She agreed. The concrete floor had cracked terribly and there was a lot of gravel and even dirt showing. Since my grandfather had passed my grandmother never even went down into the basement so the garage door was never opened to ventilate the area. My wife and I visited her quite often, but many times I did not even go downstairs to check on the car. I should have because in about 2 years time the moisture had completely molded the inside of the car and had rusted the underside so bad to where I could no longer sit in it and when I went to try and use a jacking point the metal collapsed. I found someone who wanted it and sold it for $500.00 making darn sure the father and son knew what they were getting into.

    • Tom Member

      sad but true. sorry to hear that story. Most learn the hard way. see my comments above, I wrote them hoping the will help all readers.

  18. roger

    Looks like it was drove on the beach.
    Salt water has got that thing.

  19. Steve

    The seller seems to be hiding the extent of the rust problems in his description. When a seller is not forthcoming it leads me to believe he may be hiding other things that may be a problem. I love old Vettes but not this one.

  20. SeaKnight

    Too rough for me at the asking/bidding price…pass and I love these Corvettes.

  21. Rocco Member

    I thought ’65 Corvette’s had 4 wheel disc brakes. Am I incorrect? Just front disc?

    • Dick in SoCal

      RPO J61 was a one year only option for drum brakes. !965 was the first year for disc brakes and the last year drum brakes were available. Corvettes never has two wheel disc brakes..

Leave A Comment

RULES: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks.

Become a member to add images to your comments.


Keep me in the conversation via email. Or subscribe without commenting.


WANTED 1983-1991 Cadillac Brougham 4 door sedan , preferable not white. Will travel or shipp Contact

WANTED 1978 Chevrolet Corvette Looking for a 1978 Corvette Pace Car edition Auto Or 4 Spd ,any condition. Contact

WANTED 1966 Pontiac GTO Must be Maroon, BLK seats, 4 sp, exl con. every thing else is a plus, Money in hand. Contact

Submit Your Want Ad