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1998 Corvette test drive

2013-12-26

Today’s Throwback Thursday goes all the way back to 1997… to our own personal (and way too close) introduction to the new C5 Corvette at an auto show in Seattle. You read that right: the fifth generation Corvette. Given the accolades that are flowing about the new C7 (and which are well-deserved), it’s time to remember that once upon a time the Corvette had a very different image… an image it had to get rid of. After our road test of the car, we came home and wrote the following “test”.

In our own original words, from 1997, here is the story of our test of a 1998 C5 Corvette (see the disclaimer at the end!):

———-

 My True Confession
The story of a man who almost made a terrible mistake!

1997.11.10

Ok guys, some of you have asked. I have to talk to someone, anyone, about what happened. It takes all the energy I can muster to tell you the terrible truth. Yes, I admit that I have been unfaithful. I’ve been with a new C5 Corvette. I have turned my back on Ford, Cobras, and Mustangs – all that is good and pure in this world. All that I have ever known. All that has encouraged, nurtured, and guided me to a healthy and mature racestyle. I am so ashamed….

What’s just as sad is that some friends on my internet list have put aside all decency and humanity – they actually sent me email asking for the cheap and tawdry details. How many times, how big it was, how fast we went, how hard, and how much gas! They even want to see the video! What kind of friends are these? I can only thank some higher power that I didn’t get a permanent addiction or a debilitating financial drain from my cheap one-night wham bam thank you mam (actually, it was wam-bam about 5 times…almost six!) degrading release of pure unthrottled hedonism!

It all started out, as many of these things do, in the cheap part of town. I went downtown a few nights ago – I thought I would have a little fun. It was like an exhibit, where all the good ones and bad ones were lined up for show – you even had to pay to get in. It was crowded, and it was almost impossible to even get a peep. The “vendors” parked a couple of models out front, beckoning you to come in. Forget your own better judgment, they seemed to be shouting, come in come in come in! As I made my way through the crowd, I saw the first one. She was all dressed up in red, but topless, wearing gaudy polished and shiny ornamentation. Ornamentation that made a statement – a statement to use her, flaunt her, take her places you’ve never been before, and then throw her away – only to be picked up years later by someone else, someone a little poorer than you. Someone who couldn’t have afforded her when she was in her prime condition many years before but who would consider themselves lucky to be able to get her now – even though she would be secondhand, used and abused, dirtied and despoiled. A lot of miles on the counter. A little dented, a little beat up, and having to be all done up in a thick pasty wax to evoke a memory of past glories.

As I was eyeing her, I was thinking “not me”. I couldn’t possibly have a go with her. I was a person of intelligence and good breeding, enjoying the respect that comes with having an important and respectable position. Then a man came up to me. A man who seemed to have a certain control over her. A man who was dressed cheaply, who was obviously from the lower classes, a person of base instincts – but one who knew a potential customer when he saw one. He knew he had the goods I needed – it must have shown on my face. My gullible face gave me away and revealed that I might let my defenses slip just this once. The offer to drive me to a “place” where I could “try” her was just too much for me to resist. The drive there was accomplished quickly and effortlessly in a cheap little Camaro – it’s bawdy little chrome wheels were just a hint of the debauchery soon to come.

When we got there, I saw her behind the glass storefront. She was black (inside too!). I started by walking all around her, mentally gathering the specs and imagining what I might do with her and to her. I knew she could bring me to a point I had fantasized about – but I also sensed that there were depths within her which I hadn’t even imagined.

I quickly slid inside. She was warm and comfortable, unlike any I had been in before. Her contours easily adjusted to fit my shape. She yelled, “go go go” and I went for it. I burnt rubber leaving, shamelessly slamming her again and again as she sucked in her breath and thrust herself onward. Passersby turned their heads and gawked, but I didn’t care – I even wanted them to watch! The best thing was that we fit so well together – I knew she appreciated my experienced hands on her controls.

I liked it. A lot. I found a dark side of myself I hadn’t ever fully acknowledged. It satisfied me in a way that I had never been satisfied before (except maybe that one Japanese broad, what’s her name, Supra or something). I had never known these heights before, or these depths. It was like something deep down inside me, in some dark and unknown corner of my psyche, that just had to get out and scream to the world “I’m a big deal – I have a Corvette!”.

I actually began to think that this might be “the one” – the one I could live with past the first dozen payments. Maybe even for the full 48 months! Not only was she the ride of the century, I really felt like I could actually settle down and make a life with her. She would always be ready to go for it, whether it’s a weekend at the track or a Friday night at the beach. I believed she would be a good companion for me, as steady in the tough times as in the good. Even after the payments were over, the thrill would still be there, but a mature, adult, and mutual respect would be too. I was ready to commit, I thought this was love at last!

But reality soon set in. She would never be accepted by my friends. She represented something they just didn’t understand, a world they hadn’t experienced themselves. A world my plain, square, and all-too-average Hank Hill steel-toe regular-Joe toothpick-sucking black-frame-glasses friends had never visited – and never would. No fancy cappuccinos for these folks! I knew they would whisper amongst themselves that she was just a spring fling for an aging divorced balding man, a man who was substituting for a missing part, or a man who was attempting to live the past again – although I am clearly not any of those men! So, because of their ignorant prejudices and fears, I had to say goodbye. I had to turn my back and walk away. I could never see her again, not even in my rear-view mirror. I left the true love of my life behind.

Or, so I thought.

As I left, the next “customer” arrived. As he started to run his hands over her curves, I realized that the image I had was false. She was just a cheap tramp, a bimbo, a shill and a tart, who would have a bit of fun with me but would then have a go with the next one. And the next one. Everybody wants to do her, everybody wants to fill her up…

I’m going back to good old Mustangs! I’m going back to my heroes at Ford: Don Peterson, J Mays, John Coletti. To those great NASCAR racers Dale Jarrett, Mark Martin, and of course Jack Rousch. To the folks who built a new Mustang industry in the eighties: Steve Saleen,  Dario Orlando, and to the folks who built the original phenomena: Shelby, Bondurant, and all the rest!

I only hope, after this terrible failure on my part, that they’ll still have me…

Ok, folks, the above report is a parody (duh!). When the all-new C5 Corvette came onto the market, it was saddled with an image problem that needed to be left behind. It would be years yet until this new Corvette finally shed that image and became a serious performance car. Three little letters and a whole lot of hardware to back them up made it one: Z06. But that rehabilitation took some years yet. So the only way to write up this earlier version of the car was with it’s image of the day. Yes, I actually did test drive a ’98 Corvette. Black outside (inside too!), a 6-speed fastback. This was in Seattle in November 1997 – the salesman drove me right out of the auto show at the King Dome straight to the dealer – in a cheap little Camaro! Would I buy this ‘vette? No – my sole purpose at the time was to get a test drive! I got home late that night, opened a bottle of wine (some excellent German Riesling), and sat down to write. This “style” of writing was the only appropriate way to write up a “road test” of the whole experience! Now just to be fair to the poor ‘vette owners, to treat them evenly, I’ve included some links to places they always seem to need. The links are apparently very important topics for Corvette owners!

And, of course, if you drive a white vette with a red interior, your “manager” probably shops here: pimphats.com

 

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