Monday, June 7

25 years of Corvette Love: 1985 to 2010

When I was growing up, I'd see Corvette's on TV and in the movies - all the cool guys had them. It was my very first dream car. One day, I saw a picture of a gold corvette. That's gold, not light bronze or dark bronze, but sparkling gold. The tri-coat paint job made that car sparkle.

So, when my business became successful in 1985, I sought out my gold Corvette. I finally found one, one of only 1,411 made that year. So I coughed up the deposit and made it mine.

I had previously driven a stunning Pontiac Trans Am -with a hood scoop but no screaming chicken decal - and then a bright red two seater Pontiac Fiero (a fuel-efficient sporty commuter car). Both cars were amazing, but they were no Corvette.

What you probably didn't know about me, is that I wrote and photographed Auto Racing for several years. I've covered all the major venues in the US and love the sounds and smells of those mechanical wonders. I bought the Corvette and proudly brought my Vette to NASCAR and NHRA events. Even got to drive it several times on the old Riverside International Raceway. I loved that car - and still do.  She's sitting in my garage today with about 45K original, one-owner fun miles.

So when General Motors asked me if I'd like to try out the 2010 Grand Sport Convertible Corvette, I jumped at the chance.

The engine is based on the legendary small block V8 that's been around for 45 years. I was amazed at how technology has improved it's power in the last 25. The car's premise is the same; a sexy low, road hugging sportscar. But technology took the 1985 "Tuned Port Injection" 350cc small block engine (through improved displacement) from the old 230 hp to 430 hp on the 2010. Accelerating at a quiet stop light is a fun experience. In 1985 0-60 mph took 5.7 seconds and today the improved version reaches 60 in 3.9.

My '85 had an electronic dashboard with an Atari-like digital liquid crystal display for the speedometer and tachometer (so very cutting edge at the time). The 2010 instrumentation display is so very now; chic and elegant. The speedometer even duplicates it's display on the windscreen (see below), in case you're too busy watching the road to look down at the dash.

The 2010 Corvette has all the luxury of the best and most famous sports cars. The interior is luxurious and the seats caress you as you drive. Crazy comfort! The car is right up there with the big guys: Aston Martin V8 Vantage, Porsche Boxster (and 911), BMW Z-4 and 6 series.

But those fancy European brands don't have OnStar. OnStar (IMHO) is one of the great inventions of the century. Knowing that I have the security of OnStar at my side, makes me a far more adventurous driver. I have OnStar in my CTS, and am never worried about getting lost or being alone on the road. (It even emails me when my tire gets low).

Did I mention that the 2010 was a convertible? What a pleasure it was to take the top down. Click here to watch how smoothly the roof retracts in less than 20 seconds. My old Corvette has a removable transparent glass roof panel which I rarely removed because it was such a hassle (plus you needed two people to accomplish the task). It was OK, though, because the glass roof was fun to look through.

One thing they don't tell you when you buy a Corvette. People who drive Corvettes are in an unspoken club. When one Corvette driver sees another on the road, there is always a friendly wave. It's like a secret club - nobody else knows how much fun we're having when we drive our Corvettes.

Perhaps one of these days I'll be able to visit the holy land of Corvettes, the Bowling Green factory. They've been assembled in Bowling Green Kentucky since 1981. I'll bet that's the place where the secret club meets.