Thank you to everyone who wrote in and told us about their first Corvettes. We were surprised at how many responses we got. Here are our three favorites.
1) From Chuck Wegman, Richmond, TX: “My First Corvette” In Columbus, Ohio, in 1969, I owned a 1965 GTO, which I had purchased new. My current project car was a 1955 Chevrolet Nomad, which I was restoring–no, tricking out–no, I guess just “fixing up.”
My modus operandi was to buy a running, driving, interesting car that had issues and perform the fix as I went along. Since I lived in a townhouse and had no tools or garage, I used various specialists for the major work, back before labor was $100 an hour. I would use the car for transportation as work progressed and as it was transformed to something close to cool, someone would offer me a modest premium on top of what I had in it, and off it would go. The first addition to all my project cars was a for sale sign. When I had the Nomad painted “Hugger Orange,” the new hottest color, it was gone.
I saw an ad, in what was a type of green sheet at the time, for a 1957 Corvette, in running condition for $500 about 30 miles from my house. I inspected it after dark and bought it on a Friday night. I drove it home with my wife following, as you could see the cords on the front tire treads. It seemed to go, stop, and sound OK. The car was white with an orange interior. The next morning I looked it over more closely. The interior was moldy but serviceable, but the engine compartment was a mess.
Whether or not the motor was correct was not an issue to me, but it was missing the air cleaner and Corvette valve covers. It had steel wheels painted black with no covers. The paint had a chalk texture from being outside most of its life.
I always kept a list of my costs so I knew what I had in a car at any given time. The list for this car was;
1. 2 Firestone 670×15 blackwall bias-ply tires, new from my friend, a tire wholesaler for $30 mounted and balanced.
2. One bottle of bleach and a little bit of Tide to clean the interior, $2. (ruined the carpet for good.)
3. 1 each can of degreaser, black paint, and orange paint to clean engine compartment. $7
4. 1 can of Ajax kitchen cleanser to scrub and smooth the paint out. 50 cents
5. Chrome air cleaner from discount store $2.99
6. New correct valve covers from my high school buddy who worked in the parts department at local dealer. $20 (No receipt)
Remember when you had to go “downtown” to see a new car dealer?
I now had $562.49 in it. Back then the first major improvement for a street car was a set of “mag wheels.” While I was thinking and looking for a deal on a set, I ran across the quart can of Hugger Orange the painter had given me for touchup on the Nomad. I took the wheels off, prepped them, and took them to the painter. I masked the tires while he prepared the gun. He shot the wheels, no charge. I took them, screwed them back on and decide to drive over to the local Goodyear store that had a big display of mag wheels. I was thinking Cragars, also known as Krogers because everybody had them.
I pulled into the lot, went inside and came out undecided. $200 for a set of wheels was big money to me, especially on a $500 car. Parked next to me was a beige, blackwall-tire Plymouth Belvedere. The guy was looking at the Vette, even though I hadn’t put the for-sale sign on it yet. Long story short, he gave $3,000 for it. Even more interesting, I followed him home and he drove me back in the Plymouth, it was a Hemi Belvedere, wow. That was my first of 22 Corvettes.
2) From Michael Brown, Arlington, TX: “My Middle Age Crazies” I was a senior in high school when GM and Corvette marked the 10th anniversary of “America’s only true sports car” by a major body style change and the introduction of the first Corvette coupe… the ’63 Split-Window. One aspect of my life would never be the same.
I was completely blown away by this fantasy car, its clean and futuristic design, and its timeless appeal. I felt it was an instant classic, and I’m not sure I even understood what that meant in the fall of 1962. I knew I had to have one, but believed I’d be able to afford it.
Fast forward 23 years to the summer of 1985. An innocuous ad appeared in the Dallas Morning News. “’63 SW Corvette for sale by owner.” I drove 35 miles to see it and was stricken. It was two months before my 40th birthday. After some none-too-subtle hints to my wife, she urged me to buy it as her birthday present to me, but with the admonition to “get over your middle-age crazies.”
I bought the car and it became the cornerstone–and sentimental favorite–of a collection that now numbers a dozen ‘Vettes. My Split-Window is as beautiful as the day I bought it.
Did I get over my middle-age crazies? Well, as far my attraction to Corvettes, what do you think?
3) Paul, via email: “I Washed it Just to Get Close” I saw (or rather HEARD) my first Corvette in 1965. My sister was dating a guy with a ’63 fuelie coupe with factory sidepipes. I heard it coming a block away. I was 14 at the time, and I had to go outside and see it. I wound up washing it just to be close to it, and I swore I was going to have one no matter what.
I worked two jobs the next two years (McDonalds at night and pumping gas at the Gulf gas station on weekends) just to save money for a Corvette. Right before my senior graduation I purchased a 1964 roadster. It was white with red interior and I’ll never forget driving it home from the car dealer. What a ride. No power anything; a 4-speed and muscle was all it had! And I loved it! I had that car for four years and got a big itch to buy a new C3.
In June 1972. I purchased a new Sunflower Yellow coupe and fell in love again for years until I was married and needed cash for a home. Goodbye, Corvette. It took three kids and many more years until I purchased my next ‘Vette–a gold ’84. Now, I’m in love again and this time it’s forever. I’ll never let this one go. And it’s all thanks to my brother-in-law’s ’63 fuelie and that ’64 roadster.