Chevrolet and the Miss America Pageant go together like baseball, hot dogs, and apple pie!
That’s why it was appropriate that Monday, on the 67th birthday of the Corvette, the National Corvette Museum rolled out its latest donation – a dark blue metallic 1988 Corvette convertible that was one of five Miss America show cars that Chevrolet would take on the auto show circuit that year, promoting their sponsorship of the pageant.
Lars Wallace Sr. and his family made the donation after a decade of ownership.
The winner of the Miss America Pageant that year, Kaye Lani Rafko Wilson, was also on hand at the Museum to talk about the red Corvette convertible that she won that year.
“I remember I was the first Miss America to enjoy a whirlwind of a year with one of our national sponsors, Chevrolet Motor Division,” she said today, “and I recall during the week of competition a gentleman from Chevrolet came into the rehearsal hall and mentioned to all of us how excited they were to be a part of the Miss America organization and that the newly crowned Miss America, which would be crowned that coming up Saturday, would go home with her very own 1988 convertible Corvette.”
You can see video of today’s ceremony, posted on Facebook, that includes a photo of Wilson receiving her red convertible from Rick Dunlap of Dunlap Chevrolet in Monroe, Mich.
To this day, Wilson still owns that sporty Corvette convertible, a tangible reminder of her pageant win. “I know all of my sisters and I are deeply appreciative of the many sponsors that have been able to help us through the years,” she said, “but Corvette was one of my most favorite and I still have my Corvette and we absolutely love it.”
Miss America 2000 Heather Renee French Henry was also on hand today and noted that Chevrolet was a major sponsor of the pageant for years and always made sure Corvettes were present at a lot of the personal appearances of Miss America throughout each year and even today Corvettes are present for the Miss America famous Show Me Your Shoes parade on the Boardwalk.
Lars Wallace Jr. was on hand today for the presentation ceremony and says his dad bought the blue convertible about 10 years ago at a car dealership in lower Michigan.
“Enjoyed it – car had about 200,000 miles on it at the time, which makes it special there,” Wallace Jr. said. “We enjoyed it for about five years, picked up a couple more Corvettes, and they rotated through his preferences what he liked driving. Now he’s getting up there in age a little bit, so he figured he’d thin out the herd.”
Since the Wallaces have been to the Museum several times over the years, they knew about the donation process and decided to gift the blue convertible to the NCM. “We brought the title in in February to get it searched over and see if they’d be interested in the car,” Wallace Jr. said. “They looked it up and found out it was a Miss America Pageant car.”
Despite the mileage, the car still looks in great shape. “I think it’s just amazing that a car like this, not rebuilt engine, could have about 225,000 miles on it … just the reliability of the GM cars and the durability of them,” Wallace Jr. said.
“Every Corvette is special,” he continued. “Turns out this one is a little bit more special than a common one.”
He’s hoping that the Museum will eventually set up an exhibit one day focusing on his dad’s former car and other Miss America Corvettes.
National Corvette Museum
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