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May 17, 2011

1

“Corvette Guy”

by JHW

There are certain undeniable truths in life.  For me, one of them is clear – I am not a “Corvette guy”.  Oh, how I’ve tried.  On paper, this is the best performance car reasonable money can buy.  And yet, with all of the good stacked solidly against me, the small pile of bad outweighs it all.  The emotional connection so important in choosing a car is immediately dashed the second I think about owning a Corvette.  Funny, as there may not be a car infused with more passion from the factory.  Corvettes are constructed in the heart of the USA by a group of people proud to be building them. Talk to any Corvette owner, and they will wax poetic about how Corvettes are an obsession, a lifestyle in the tradition of Harley Davidson and … errr… Apple?  So why will I never own one?

I know all of the usual objections: the “Corvette guy” stigma, the ancient technology, and that awful interior.  These are all good reasons to prefer German product – but for me, it is more complicated.  You see, I love American cars.  I have owned four Mustangs, lust endlessly for the Ford GT, would love to own a Viper… I even check the eBay listings for GMC Typhoon’s once a year – so why not a Corvette which is arguably better than them all (bar the GT, a bonafide supercar)?

 For me, the Corvette represents something that I am not.  No, not the Corvette owner  stereotype… I myself  don’t fit into a neat little “Porsche owner” box, and I don’t believe a one fits all  designation can be placed  on owners of any other car.  For me, the community aspect of automotive  enthusiasm is such an integral  part of the  experience.  There is a shared passion, a collective base of knowledge that forms whenever car  guys get together… and when it comes to Corvette’s, I don’t share the love.  I could certainly talk the  talk,  spit out figures and wax poetic about displacement – but it wouldn’t stir my soul.  In 2003, I attended the 4-  day Grand Prix at Bondurant.  On day one, I walked to the  paddock in my nomex suit, climbed over the  cage  into the #21 car (pictured) and fired up a beefy  sounding  C5.  For the next three days, I would beat  this car  mercilessly; heating the brakes, tossing it  deep into a  corner, and powering out with the tail  wagging predictably.  The car seemed born for this  kind of abuse,  burbling and popping with each  deceleration, and belching out a deep scream on the six figure straight portions.  The Z made for a rewarding drive, and I left Arizona eager for more. Years later, I would return to the school, and was lucky enough to be piloted around the track in a C6 Z06 by Mr. Bondurant himself.

On paper, the Corvette is a winner in every category.  For $49,045, you can buy a 430 hp / 424 lb ft rocket that will hit 60 from a stop in 4.2 seconds and blast on to a top speed of 190 mph!  How much will that kind of performance cost you at any (really, any) other dealership?  Double?  Triple?  More?  Amazingly, for another $25,330 you can get into a 505 hp / 470 lb ft Z06.  While these are both super cars… for another $35,925, you can buy a supercar.  The 638 hp ZR1 packs a walloping 604 lb ft of torque, that’s about double the torque of a 2011 911 Carrera S!  Add to this the option of Museum delivery (cool) and the option to assist in the build of your motor (cooler! A $5,800 option on the Z06 & ZR1) and the 205 mph uber-Vette starts to make a lot of sense.

So there you have it… the Corvette is mental.  In any spec, it can turn a curvy road straight, a long straight short, and when and if it breaks, you will not have to take a second mortgage on your home.    Life as an auto enthusiast means a lot of things… among them, your enthusiast identity is somewhat created by the car you drive.  For me, I am no more a Corvette guy than I am a Lamborghini guy… there are just some brands that don’t speak to me.  It’s not all about putting the biggest numbers down, having the fastest car at a meet, or even intangibles like curb appeal.  There is a connection I feel to certain cars, something that transcends metal, glass and rubber.  When it comes to the Corvette, there is some intangible missing element, some moment… some impossible to pinpoint detail that does not quite align with my soul.

It is this detail, this lack of lust and need for America’s classic sports car that makes a Corvette the best car I will never buy.

PHOTO CREDIT:  © GM Corp.

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1 Comment Post a comment
  1. Melissa
    May 18 2011

    Well said James. I understand that connection you are missing from Corvette. Similar situations can happen with other brands from Coach vs. Louis Vuitton. The quality and sweat equity is there, but the heritage is missing and the sense that you have a small branch of that lineage. We seem to gravitate to brands that have been around the block longer, and who have learned to fine tune their craft. It’s hard to create a game changer in consumer minds, when you just arrived to the game.

    Reply

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