A man’s love for his Corvette has perhaps never been told more poignantly and sincerely than in this video we found on Youtube.
Car and Driver Technical Editor Don Sherman recounts the story of the restoration of his Corvette, not in sterile technical terms, but in emotion-filled terms that only a fellow car lover can appreciate.
Like so many of us, Don treated Corvettes as his girlfriend during his high school years, never mind the fact that he says he didn’t have a real girlfriend, “so as a substitute, I had a fondness for two-seat convertible Chevys of the day,” he recounts as he stands with his pride and joy, a 1967 427 roadster that he lovingly restored in the 1990s.
“It was sorta complete,” he says of the car when he bought it for $11,000, “with a mix of good and bad parts. It was running – I could drive it away, but it was really just a drivable basket case that needed to come apart and needed a restoration.”
The car had had a rough life as a drag racer, and the original 427 with three carburetors and 435-hp was long gone.
“So I knew this car was a great candidate to remove the body, fix the frame, restore all the chassis and suspension parts, and put it back together as an original-looking ’67 Corvette,” he said. Then come the words that so many Corvette enthusiasts can identify with. “Restoration is an affliction with no known cure,” he says. “After you do one, you can’t wait to do the next. And you want something different, you want a challenge.”
As he holds a restoration guidebook, Don says “there’s a lot more satisfaction involved doing it yourself than just buying a finished car somebody else has put the work in, and of course for whatever work you do yourself, I mean it’s basically free. So if you have the tools, if you have the space, you have the time and the skills, you might as well do it. It’s a great thing to do. I enjoyed it thoroughly.” Don says there’s always luck involved with any restoration.
“There’s good luck and bad luck,” he says. “I was very fortunate because this car had sort of a charmed life. It wasn’t rusty, and it wasn’t wrecked. But you don’t know that till you get it home and inspect it carefully and you take it apart. But that was the good luck I had. The frame itself was square, not damaged, not wounded, and it was a good foundation to build on.”
He still remembers the excitement of hearing the engine run for the first time. “The sound is enough to wake the dead,” he says. “You’re gonna have some wheel spin, it’s just inevitable from this time, that’s what they did. So it’s kinda refreshing to go back and remember the cars before some of this knowledge was gained and what’s been learned, that the driver’s crucial to staying in control, to using his head, to using the right amount of throttle and steering and not to put the car in the ditch.”
He admits the car is very crude by today’s standards “but light and powerful and great for acceleration.”
Perhaps crude but oh so cool. In fact, when Automobile Magazine compiled a list of the 100 Coolest Cars of All Time, the 1967 Corvette was at the top, so since Don worked there at the time, naturally his car was the choice to adorn the cover.
“The plan is to hang on to these cars forever,” he says, “and hope that my sons will take care of them. They own them, and they’ll keep them and enjoy them as I have. These cars become a time capsule – they become your transition back to different times when cars drove differently, they sounded differently, they felt differently, they performed differently.”
Before he passes it down to his sons, though, he’d love to take the car out on a Route 66 trip. “It would be a lot of fun to get this car prepared so it could endure that and take it on a drive to California,” he says. “It’s good to really not have a destination, to just go and enjoy that. It’s really a four-wheel motorcycle with all the sensory inputs and everything attacking you from the outside, but you’re enjoying it from behind the wheel. It’s a spirit of adventure in an open car and a chance to enjoy the road, enjoy the car, hopefully enjoy the weather. It’s kinda driving in its purest and best form.”
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