Car Lovers: My affection was Birthed with a Corvette
At some time in each of our lives we have a memory or experience which stands out as the moment when we first fell in love with cars. With me, JP, it was when I was five years old in 1959, going to kindergarten. I was standing at the school bus stop at the Carvel Ice Cream building on Route 10 in lovely New Jersey. I would watch the traffic go by, commuters on their way to work, and I saw it. What was that?? My older brother, Ed, who knew everything because he was 7 years old, told me, "That's a Corvette!" I said, "Wow! I love that car!"
When a five year old falls in love with a car, what does he do??? Naturally, he starts to count them. I would never lose track. I always remembered the number of the last car I counted. I would add the new car to my memory. I'd say, "Hey, Ed, there's another Vette, number 105….." I did that until I broke him down. He finally begged me to stop nudging him and then telling him about the latest car number when it got to over one hundred. He got it, I was in love.
In 1973, my 21 year old neighbor stunned us kids (I was 17 then, and still in love), he drove a black '64 Corvette, fastback, four speed with a 427 engine with wide rear tires. I waited patiently until he said to me, "Hey, JP, want to go for a ride in the Vette???" Without hesitation I was in the passenger seat. I said, "Where to?" He said, "We'll go down to the quarter mile straight road that runs next to the Erie Lackawanna train tracks in Denville." I screamed in delight.
We got to the end of the straight-a-way and I remember Jimmy revving that baby up, popping the clutch and I was in glory. We hit second gear, boom, my head snapped back, third gear, again my head snapped back, and when we got into fourth gear he had to shut it down. Whew! Talk about, "Take your breath away!" I squealed with JOY!!
The wonderful noise of that engine, the banging of the gears and the smell of the tires is a memory that is still just as fresh today as it was then.
I never bought a Corvette. However, I've made plastic models of them as a kid. That counts, right? All this excitement led me to buy my own "Corvette." A bit downgraded but still a lot of fun. Since it takes money to buy a Corvette, I went with the next best thing? I bought two MGBs, a 1964 and 1967, when I was 19. They were fun to rebuild, thanks to my Chilton manual.
But I never bought a Vette. Now I just roam the car shows and say, "How do they get into those things." Yup, 60 years old and I can't imagine riding that low to the ground now. Oh well. They're still worth counting, number 25,201…. Each car show I go to brings back these cherished memories. Thanks to all those Corvette guys. I love ya. Keep'em runnin' and gunnin'.