The first time I saw a Chevrolet Corvette I was 3 or 4 years old. Our then neighbors a few houses east on 123rd Street in West Pullman bought a white one. This is 1979 or 1980 so it’s a new C3 (meaning third generation), and it was “ a cool car”, not over stated like a lot of cars of the time.
Believe it or not that 1979 Corvette was the best selling Vette of all time. It’s a good looking car from an era when a lot of cars were forgettable, the L82 model in particular and the Indy Pace car (1978), have aged extremely well.
The C4 came out in 1984 (no 83 Vette), and that was the Vette I grew up with. Again I thought it was a “cool car” but honestly at that age and in the mid 80’s I liked the Camaro (especially the IROC Z), and the Monte Carlo SS better. My late father had a red 1967 Camaro that he was making into a hot rod and a family friend also had a Monte Carlo SS.
In my childhood neighborhood of West Pullman, that IROC Z Camaro was “the car”, closely followed by the Monte Carlo SS, you didn’t see many Vette’s and when you did it was an older guy, so as a car crazy kid, the Vette was in third place.
Not to mention by the late 1980’s my father and his closest friends had all bought Nissans, my father had a 200SX and his two closest buddies had Maximas and another friend had the legendary 300ZX. So I was influenced by that too. The 300ZX seemed to be the hottest thing on the street and like I said at that time I didn’t see a lot of Vettes.
And it stayed that way until I was in college in the mid 1990’s, one of my DePaul University classmates took a side job selling Chevrolets at the old Arrow Chevy in Midlothian. I went in to see him one day and its early 1996 and he showed me the last C4 Vette, a new 1996 Grand Sport Vette. It was special (incredible paint job and nicest polished wheels I’d ever seen that were not after market), and the first time I saw a Vette and said “whoa”. For a 12 year old design it looked really good, this was no normal Chevy (LT4 V8 engine), and my feelings on the Vette started to change.
The C5 came out the next year and again, “whoa”, I loved in the new interior design and the whole car just flowed in aerodynamics and the new LT1 engine was just lethal. To this day that C5 is my favorite design.
Then in 2005 the C6 was unveiled and I happened to be at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis (for time trials a few weeks prior to Indy 500 race), on a road trip with my DePaul mentor and saw it. Again “whoa” gone were the flip up lights but again the design was smoother than ever and now this was a supercar. I was a Chevrolet owner (2002 Malibu), by this point and now the Vette had some meaning to me.
Ironically coming home from that trip to Indy the local sports bar in Calumet Park (Geno’s), had their yearly Vette car show in the parking lot right on 124th Street. It brought the message home that the Vette was not to be ignored and seeing a parking lot full of Vettes got me going and even stunned my mentor who is hot rod fan. Turns out one of my dad’s friends who was a Maxima owner in the 1980’s is now a Vette owner that takes part in Geno’s Vette shows.
Three years later my cousin Jay bought a C5 (from Michigan), after an exhaustive search through the Midwest for a pristine C5. His was a black 2001 with the matching black interior. It was the first Vette that I climbed into and that’s when “it” hits you. This is no ordinary car and is among the best GM products available.
Also around this time is when I found out my soon to be father in law and his brothers were all Vette men, most having owned at least one Vette in their lifetime. Hearing them talk about Vettes really brought it home.
I have also learned about the iconic history of the Vette, from the first one in 1953 to the legendary C3 in the 1960’s (the split window 1963, the Stingray starting also starting with the C3), as well as the “Mako Shark” concept cars of the early 1970’s. Chervolet has never spared any expense nor held back when it comes to the Corvette.
And what can I say about the new C7? It’s the pictured car from this years Chicago Auto Show, once more “whoa”. I climbed in it on both of my visits to the auto show this year and it pushes the envelope even more.
Camaro’s will always be special to me because of my late father and my West Pullman upbringing but now having an all GM garage and fully entrenched in how special Vettes are, I get it. I appreciate the car more than ever and hope to be a Vette owner down the road.
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Filed under: Cars