In our latest installment of asking a Question of the Week, I turned the reins over our Detroit Bureau aka Steve Burns to come up with a question to ask our contributors. Steve says that while many know of Keith’s story with his 1966, why not ask how the others got into the Corvette hobby. So if you want to learn a little more about the guys here at CorvetteBlogger who find the Chevrolet Corvette to be more than just a car, keep reading!
How’d you get interested in the Corvette hobby?
I ended up a Corvette guy by simple osmosis. While growing up, my dad almost always had one in the garage. As a small child I remember rolling around the rear cargo area of his 1966 coupe while he was behind the wheel. Later it was driving his 1975 coupe to my senior prom. On the weekends it was off to one or more of the myriad of local metro Detroit car shows. I attended my first Bloomington Gold at the ripe old age of 8 and have only missed 2 of them over the following 35 years. In 1999 I procured my first Corvette – a 1971 LS5 coupe and haven’t looked back since. Basically, Corvettes have been in my blood since grade school. As I get older, my passion for Corvettes just continues to grow. I guess there are worse things out there I could have gotten into!
My dad was a big Chevrolet man all his life so I guess it rubbed off on me at a young age. He never was very interested in Corvettes, preferring instead to drive Bel Airs, Impalas, and Caprices. But I can still remember telling him when I couldn’t have been much more than 6 or 7 years old that I wanted a “Corvair” Sting Ray. From there it just blossomed into a full-fledged love affair with the “Corvette” Sting Ray. An older neighbor of mine had a red 1969 convertible that I lusted after, and then at my first job as a sack boy at a local grocery store, one of our customers drove a brand new 75 convertible. I couldn’t wait to see him come to the store every week so I could see his Vette. As a freshman in high school, I subscribed to Vette Vues when it was mimeographed. I still have those copies now and I remain a subscriber to this day and will always be. I guess you could say I am a lifelong dyed in the wool Corvette enthusiast from early childhood. I can’t remember when I wasn’t!
I’ve often heard people say that Corvette ownership is not practical when you’re raising a family, but I had a completely different philosophy. We already had four children and would have our fifth the following year, and there I was buying a two-seat Corvette at the age of 36. I had actually decided that a Corvette was the perfect date vehicle and had convinced my wife that it was a great idea that would help us get away for some alone time together. Not only did the Corvette allow us to do just that, but it also provided an opportunity for me to have fun one-on-one times with each of my kids. Before the Corvette, it was almost impossible to take just one of the kids anywhere without the others begging to go to. But now I could say, “I’m sorry, but we’re taking the Corvette and there is only room for one, but I’ll take you somewhere with me soon and it will be just you and me.”
I’ve owned at least one of every generation and the 2020 Corvette that I have on order with Mike Furman will be my 20th Corvette and my 50th birthday present to myself. That’s what always being interested in the Corvette from childhood will do to you when you don’t buy your first Corvette until you’re 36 years old. Even so, I still can’t help but feel I’m only just getting started!
For me, a few specific milestones come to mind when I think about how I got to the point of loving Corvettes enough to write about them every day. As a kid, my dad was hugely responsible for planting the seeds that would blossom into my automotive nerddom. He took me to classic/muscle car shows and I always remember the Corvettes really standing out from the rest of the crowd. He also had dual subscriptions to Car and Driver and Road & Track that I would excitedly run to the mailbox at the beginning of the month for. Luckily for my budding Corvette enthusiasm, both publications featured ‘Vettes a lot! I loved reading comparison tests and following speculation about future generations before the internet made all of that so easy.
Then my freshman year in college, when I was in desperate need of a new hobby after years of having nearly no free time as a side effect of being a three-sport athlete, GM delivered the car that pushed me into a full-on obsession; the C6 ZR1. Performance-wise, that car was so far ahead of everything else at the time, it sent a shock through the industry and my plans. Upon graduation, I decided not to use my degree and instead take a job at Colorado’s #1 Corvette dealership (my mom cried!). While I was there, I had the opportunity to drive performance cars from around the globe and Corvettes from every generation (except for C1) and hone in on what makes a car truly great to me beyond the numbers.
Working all year round while my wife was teaching, putting in time every Saturday, and not having access to the ‘Vettes all winter eventually drove me into the classroom. I’ve missed the cars ever since and was always writing here and there or crunching general car or Corvette data in Excel during my free time at school. About a month ago I decided that I should go for it and put all of this enthusiasm back to work. I contacted Keith and he decided to take a shot on an unproven writer, giving me a chance at being like the R&T guys who taught me to read way back when.
Reading the accounts above from our fellow contributors, it’s apparent how important the role of fathers play in passing on the “car genes” to their sons and daughters.
My dad was working for a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary in 1966 and that year J&J awarded a 1966 Ford Mustang to its top salesman at each division. My dad won it but famously said, “What am I going to do with an old Ford anyway?” So he picked the Mustang from the Ford dealership and drove to a Chevrolet dealer where he traded it in on a Black/Silver 1966 Corvette Convertible. I was born two years later and grew up in the car, going to shows and drives. My father passed away in 1982 when I was 14 and the car was put in a barn where it would say until I picked it up and brought it down to Florida nearly 10 years later. It’s the car I drive today and while I have owned it longer than he did, I will always think of it as my dad’s Corvette.