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Sunday, September 10, 2006

Corvette Fever

Corvette Fever

I get a lot of flack about my car, probably because I drive a Corvette. Yeah, yeah, I know what you’re thinking:

"A Porsche is better. You should get one of those instead."

"Americans can’t make a decent sports car."

"You could get a Cadillac or Lexus or Mercedes… something BIG!"

I’ve heard it all before. Save your breath.

I got my first taste of life in the fast lane about 10 years ago. It all started when I was shopping for a new car. "Why don’t you get a Corvette?" suggested a wise guy friend.

I laughed… but the seed had been planted. I figured, "Well, why not look? Doesn’t cost anything just to look."

Now the most popular Corvette color is red - but I wanted a white one. I went to a dealer "just to look." But the salesman, evil man, obviously hell bent on making a fat commission, talked me into driving the shinny, new red demo.

"Just take it for a spin, you don’t know if you even want one until you drive it. Noooo obligation!"

I was sort of afraid. Seems silly now, but I’d never driven a hot car like that before. I was afraid it would get away from me. But once behind the wheel, I knew what makes a Corvette a Corvette. The engine, the power, the feel! They drive and handle like a dream. I was in love, a woman obsessed. I had it bad - Corvette Fever!

I didn’t know anything about the Corvette subculture when I brought my first Vette. I just liked the car, especially the neat headlights that turned a flip. It was only later that I found out they are made in Bowling Green, Kentucky, only a short drive from Nashville on I-65. The only remaining Corvette factory in the US is there, and across the street is the National Corvette Museum.

When the National Corvette Museum opened a few years ago, there was big celebration and I decided it might fun to go. Corvettes were descending on Bowling Green from every direction. While driving to the event from Nashville, I soon found myself in an informal I-65 caravan. I fell in behind two twin Corvettes traveling together. Someone else joined in behind me, and so on. There were a several dozen Vettes, a mini road tour of our own.

When I got there I found Corvettes, car clubs and auto enthusiasts from all over the country. You’ve never seen so many Vettes, all colors, all years. Swarms of Corvettes took over the city. They were parked in fields surrounding the museum and were being driven everywhere. The parking lots were show places of their own. Antique cars seldom seen outside of a museum were being driven on the streets. Everybody was a Corvette enthusiast and it was very contagious.

The Beach Boys entertained the crowd that year at the University of Kentucky stadium, but the real show was going on outside behind them. A few overly enthusiastic Vette fans, drunk on Corvette fever, were creating an informal show of their own, showing off the Vette's quick take off by smoking rubber and spinning wheels. They received the crowd's enthusiastic cheers and applause -- at least till the cops came and ran them off, to a round of boos and jeers from the crowd who wanted to see the Corvettes more than the Beach Boys.

So, I have to take a lot of kidding about being on an ego trip, having a mid life crisis, driving a plastic car - even about having more car than I can handle. I don’t worry too much about what people think. I just keep my eyes on the road and my foot on the pedal.

Guess one of these days I’ll get the car out of my system; I haven’t yet. Something about sliding in those bucket seats and smelling the leather still makes the adrenaline flow. It has a ton of power and temptation to speed is a constant problem. It is, after all, a racecar capable of 180 mph. Some people say they are unsafe, but I say it is the way people drive them that creates the high accident rate. Actually, the low center of gravity, wide tires, fast getaway, and ability to be maneuvered can be a safety factor -- as long as you can behave yourself.

I drive mine pretty much like I would drive any other car. When I go to the local grocery store, the teenage carryout boy that brings groceries to the car will usually do a double take.

"Boy, I like your car!" he will invariable say. "That’s the kind of car I want!" I smile. He could never get insurance. At his age it would be a high-risk insurance pool, for sure.

But, I always just grin and say, "Thanks, I hope you get one some day. They are a lot of fun!" Why kill a dream?

Long live Corvette fever!

Posted by Tom Hiltz aka [redvette]

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