Enthusiasts “get” it – the emotional connection an owner builds with his Corvette.
But what to do with a Corvette when you’ve owned it for 40 years? Pass it on to a family member? Sell it to a fellow enthusiast?
Well, for one North Carolina man, it was an easy decision as Bob Dupuis donated his prized 1968 triple black Stingray convertible with a 327 engine to the National Corvette Museum – becoming the first ’68 to be so gifted, in the process.
The gift was made in memory of one of Bob’s close friends, a fellow Corvette enthusiast who died recently and whom he described as “a fun guy” and “clever as all get out.”
Bob’s connection to Corvettes in general, and to this model in particular, came during his years at the Naval Academy, where he was a student in the mid-1970s.
Back then, the seniors parked their cars on campus, and “fully it looked like a third of the cars there were Corvettes,” Bob recalls.
He kept seeing this ’68 by the History Department. “The owner didn’t wash it regularly and didn’t take care of it,” Bob said. “So, I found out whose it was. He had graduated 10 years before me and got the car when he was a student. He was a naval aviator and sold it to me on December 10, 1977 for the princely sum of $2,200.”
Since then, Bob laughs, “I spent more on car wash and wax over the years than on the car.”
This was no trailer queen, though. Bob and his friend, Donnie, drove the car 830 miles from Jacksonville, North Carolina to donate it to the Museum.
Naturally, once Bob got there, the emotion of the moment got to him, even leading to his choking up as he talked about donating the car in memory of his good friend during a ceremony at the NCM.
“I had a ton of emotion when I brought the car in the back, cried like a school girl, but if you can’t do that here, where on the planet can you do that?” Bob said. “Everybody here gets it.”
Bob’s wife, Lois, and their daughter, Bobbie, were on hand for the ceremony. Afterwards, Bobbie talked about how the car had always been a part of her life and pointed out that her favorite memories were probably the times when it was part of their Christmas celebration for about 15 years. “It was always really cold,” Bobbie recalled. “We’d put blankets in it, turn the heat up, top down and drive to church as a family … very illegally.”
Earlier, Bob remembered the times when his daughter was probably 5 months old and couldn’t sleep and he’d go out and crank up the car. The rumble of the engine soon had Bobbie asleep.
Bob says he never dreamed he would get rid of the car, but after discussions with his family, he recently decided it would be fitting to donate the ’68 in memory of his friend, in the process hopefully helping the Museum in its mission to keep the Corvette dream alive.
As he said, “it’s not about the car, it’s about the memories, it’s about the people. I hope this car is a blessing to the Museum. I hope it furthers the Museum’s mission. I hope it inspires people who see it. I watch the web cams all the time. You want young people to see it and aspire to own one. Hopefully, this can be part of that legacy for the next generation of Corvette lovers.”
Oh, and don’t think Bob is giving up the Corvette dream himself. Far from it. As he turned over the keys to his beloved ’68, he was also picking up his brand new 2018 Blade Silver Stingray coupe that was also parked nearby on Corvette Boulevard at the Museum!
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