Strolling Amok

Pops goes on tour.

The Corvette Returns

Oh, the adoration just blooms in this 1974 photo.

Oh, the adoration just blooms in this 1974 photo. “I can’t believe I OWN this car!!!”

Awhile back, I wrote a post about the unhappy days I had with my special-ordered 1974 Corvette Sting Ray. It was a mix of wonderment and poor labor practices all rolled into one. It was the last of the all-fiberglass bodied ‘Vettes, the last of the 454 V8s, and the next to last year for convertibles (of that era). It was one of the last Corvettes to come off the 1974 production line. You can read about its checkered past in Listening to the Inner Idiot. I loved that car, and also loved getting rid of it in 1976.

Turns out that the “poor bastard” who then bought that car recently contacted me, not to curse me but to ask questions about what tidbits I recalled about its options. He’s owned it since 1976 and is preparing to restore it. It has just 39K miles on it now, which means he’s driven it not much more than I did in the year and a half that I owned it. Due to its automatic trans, it’s mainly his wife’s car. He’s owned many early 1970s Corvettes, and prefers a manual transmission, but this is his only big-block, his only convertible, and his only automatic.

"My" Sting Ray as it is today.

“My” Sting Ray as it is today.

It was repainted black in the late 1980s for a change of pace, then went back to silver later. Oddly, he told me that he hasn’t had much trouble with it, but has farmed out its maintenance to shops, where they just do what they need to do. I sympathize with those shops, since I may be the only Corvette owner ever to have the frame underneath all that fiberglass Ziebarted (rustproofed), which not only prevents exposed fastener threads from releasing, but must be removed to even get a wrench on them. The inability of the passenger window to close all the way, the windshield leak and the big unfixable air gap where the convertible top meets the rear deck have gone unmentioned. No split fuel lines, dead circuits or smoking electrical switches. What it’s worth on the market now, only he knows. I’ve never owned a more viscerally beautiful car, a more capable one, nor one as deeply flawed in both production engineering and assembly labor, top to bottom.

Do I perhaps wish I had it back? After all, what followed looked like a more coldly corporate committee design, albeit with more sophisticated underpinnings that finally launched it into the bottom rungs of the upscale international market. Nope, I see it for what it could have been and what I hoped it would be, but when the zenith of your automotive hopes proves to be a high-maintenance doomsday machine that there’s no way to live with except as a hobby car instead of daily transport, that’s where I have to sign out. Not worth the pain. I’m glad it fits into someone else’s lifestyle. I’d feared that some kid would crash it, and it is a relief to find that it still exists, absorbing someone else’s earnings – and that they like that.

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13 thoughts on “The Corvette Returns

  1. This is awesome – I secretly wish my first car (a 1978 Rabbit L 4 Door) is out there somewhere still…but I doubt it.

  2. Closure for your unconscious mind. 😎

    • Yes Parker, while most survivors wrestle with serious past abuse or betrayal issues, I may be one of the very few to have suffered from the lasting emotional upheaval of Automotive Trauma, a status that I see is not yet recognized in American medical journals. 🙂
      Seriously, it is comforting to know that it found a home with someone who considers it a keeper even while they have traded and swapped other examples over the last 40 years. And, they can afford to keep it rolling. Barring accident, it will still be eating fan belts long after I have gone the way of all the earth.

  3. Dennis on said:

    Totally forgot you owned one Douglas.

  4. I just love the way you can put into words, what would be my exact sentiments in regards to some of the cars I have previously owned….most notably …all the MGB’s
    Hope you a recovering well

    • Thank you, David. My condolences on your past addiction issues. 🙂 I would recommend a visit to this website to listen to parody songs by a band called Spinal Tappets. It’s on the order of Weird Al Yankovic, and although they compose lyrics about the many travails of Triumph ownership, you may well be able to relate. Have fun! (P.S.: The first song, Ahhh, is a defective file, but the others play fine. You can also look up live performances on YouTube under “Spinal Tappets”, but the words are not as clear.)

      • del day on said:

        How dare ye compare a MGB to any Triumph. ….lol owned a MGB and a TR-6 I would love to drive either one today.

        That silver makes it a very attractive vet.

        • I dare! I dare! I assume that the debate boils down to which one is easier to push. 🙂

          Glad to see you getting well enough to waste your time reading this blog, Del! Welcome back.

  5. Now THAT’s what I call a lemon!
    I thought my family’s ’73 Chevy station wagon was bad.

    The 70’s certainly were a sad decade for the domestic auto industry. The corvette was one of the very few sexy cars of the era.

    Be careful how you poke the bear, del day. Next he’ll be extollin’ the virtues of the Morgan. 🙂

    • Ahhh, the Morgan! Now there was a car… nevermind.

      I didn’t mention the ’76 Buick LeSabre that followed it, with a deformity in the firewall that the dealer said they were unable to fix. It leaked cold air in the winter and pretty much cancelled out the heater. This was before Lemon Laws were passed in Illinois. Given that I was a diehard GM fan, all this took its toll on my later buying decisions! Then there was the ’79 Plymouth Horizon that had a documented penchant for stalling when making a left turn at intersections. Foreign cars like the Datsun didn’t “take” market share – the domestics drove people to them.

  6. The family’s station wagon suffered a similar sickness as your Plymouth: Though it stalled during acceleration, and obviously at inopportune times.

    Absolutely right about the Japanese “invasion”. If I remember right, the early eighties included tariffs against Japanese autos to keep them from being just a little too popular.

    But I am afraid I never learned my lesson. I’ve owned Pontiac’s the past 20 years, and sad they’ve been discontinued.

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