1979 ‘Big Red’ Corvette Joins the Corvette Museum’s Collection


1979 'Big Red' Corvette Joins the Corvette Museum's Collection

Bob Doerr’s 1979 Corvette, nicknamed “Big Red” by his younger sister Claudia Stodghill, is entering a new chapter in its life – surrounded by other beloved Corvettes at the National Corvette Museum.

Claudia has taken care of the car for the past 25 years after her brother left it to her when he died from brain cancer. She’s kept it in a climate-controlled garage complete with carpet ever since, but lately had come to the conclusion the Corvette deserved more than that.

“It didn’t seem fair to the car,” she said. “It was like it was sitting in a tomb when I know what the car is capable of. It’s a sweet driver. To me it needed a better life.”

While she was walking her dog one day, she looked up to the sky and asked Bob for guidance on what to do with his Corvette.

She said: “‘Bob, I need help with this. I’m not coming to a satisfactory conclusion.’ Then instantly an idea came to mind. I thought that it belonged in a car museum. So I got online and started looking, finding the National Corvette Museum. I had heard of it and thought – ‘oh my gosh it’s perfect.’ I knew after seeing it online that Big Red would be taken care of. I could see by the way the cars were roped off that people can get close to see the cars, but not too close to be all up on them. I said ‘Hot dog, Big Red, you’re going to have a whole new chapter to your life in beautiful Bowling Green, Kentucky.'”

Big Red was just the latest in a series of 15 Corvettes owned by Bob during his lifetime, including his first, a 1965 Nassau Blue that he used to deliver mail in.

Claudia shared Bob’s love of Corvettes, saying that she grew up enjoying the fun of the cars “and it was an absolute thrill.”

“Bob would say ‘it’s just a Chevy’ and grin,” she said. “So I got to drive all these cars and enjoy them. I can tell what each model year feels like both to drive it or be a passenger. I even know the smell of each, new and as it gets older.”

Though she had chances to sell Big Red over the years, she just never felt comfortable parting with the car, either because the prospective buyer couldn’t come up with the money or she just didn’t think they would take care of it like she and Bob had.

That’s why she is thrilled that the Museum accepted her donation.

“The days riding in Corvettes with Bob was just a terrific time in my life,” said Claudia. “To me, it needed to be in a place surrounded with people who love these cars.”

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