Why I love my vehicle: After 40 years, the love for his 1980 Corvette remains strong

Ray Mills, owner of this classic 1980 Chevrolet, has a special reason to love bulky hockey bags and sticks.

By Liz Beddall Wheels.ca

Oct 9, 2022 4 min. read

Article was updated a year ago

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Ray Mills, who used to play second base for his Unionville slow-pitch baseball league, had just stepped up to the plate when he heard a whisper. Following a sharp psst from the umpire, Mills turned around to hear a mid-game proposition.

“Hey Ray,” the hunched umpire whispered, “I want to buy your car.”

Mills – who is known as Rayzer among his friends – has many similar stories. He has received several offers for his red 1980 Chevrolet Corvette, which he got the year it was released. Yet no amount of money will convince the former General Motors employee to part with what he now refers to as a member of his family.

Fresh from his daily round of morning golf, the Markham resident tells us why he loves his vehicle

“I would buy my cars through my employer, General Motors," said Mills, who was overseeing material management at the company’s manufacturing plant on Eglinton Avenue. “When I decided to buy a Corvette, I put my name in at the plant to buy one. I was fifth on the list and they only allowed four names that year. A friend of mine purchased that last one, to celebrate his divorce of all things.


“But here’s the thing, that same friend had two boys, who were 12 and 13 years old. When fall came around that year, he was picking up his boys from a hockey game. With the boys came two hockey bags and hockey sticks. You only need give that car one look to know that its not possible to get that all inside.

“The next day my friend came into work and said, ‘Ray, do you want to buy the car?’

“I couldn’t resist. I drove the car into my driveway that day. It was bright red, and so was my wife. She was mad. She went up the wall, across the ceiling and back down the wall again screaming at me; ‘We have two children. We have a mortgage. Are you crazy. Is there something wrong with you?’
A week later, I came home from work and there was a guy in the kitchen. My wife hands me his business card and said, ‘You bought a Corvette, I’m getting a brand-new kitchen.’ And she did.

But 42 years and 80,000 miles later, I think the car has grown on her. For a long time, we’d load it up on Saturdays with a picnic basket, blanket and bottle of wine never knowing exactly where we were going. These days, we take it out for brunch on the weekends or head up to Muskoka or to Musselman’s Lake (north of Markham) in for an ice cream cone.

And, of course, we start it up on special occasions, like when my daughter and I grabbed the Canadian flag from my garage and drove up and down the streets of Markham during the World Junior Ice Hockey Championships.

I used to belong to a car club, but the truth is, I love driving this car. When you go to these car shows your poor car just sits there. I’d rather be driving.”


A CLOSER LOOK: 1980 Chevrolet Corvette

Built for speed

“When I first got the Corvette, I put two new cams in it to boost the horsepower and I stripped the exhaust system because you don’t need catalytic converters on these cars. I increased the size of the muffler to get the back pressure off the engine. It’s quick and it runs almost like a brand-new car, but admittedly it doesn’t have the power like the new ones have. I had the pleasure of recently being able to drive the 2019 Corvette Convertible Z06. It just flew.”

Inside and out

“I just finished repainting it and I wrapped the front end from the wheel shell forward in plastic because it used to get a lot of stone chips. This plastic is called XPEL, and the film stops the stone from chipping the paint. The interior is all original except for the sound system. I redid that and there are now two speakers in the back. It’s a cassette player and I happen to have just one cassette in here, the Sleepless in Seattle soundtrack.

Classic style

“I just love the styling of a Corvette,” said Mills about his two-door passenger sports car. “It’s truly unique. When Corvettes first came out in 1953, they only made 300 of them. There were only three years where this particular body was available: 1981, 1982 and 1983. It was when production switched from Missouri to Kentucky, making it even more special. I bought it for $13,800 and recently had it appraised for $45,000. But I wouldn’t sell it for the world.”

This article was edited for space and clarity. Want to be featured in Why

I Love My Vehicle? email us at wheels@thestar.ca with “Why I Love” in the subject line.




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