While I am mostly an airplane guy, I do have a love for cars as well. Not all cars, most I merely tolerate, but there are a few that I have owned, or would like to own. I can annoy my wife all hours of the day watching Velocity Channel shows like Garage Squad and Wheeler Dealers. I have owned several very nice cars in my life: 2 Porsche 944’s, 35th Anniversary Edition Ford Mustang GT Convertible, and 1971 and 1992 Chevrolet Corvettes. Some were in great shape, others were projects, but I loved them all. And while I am mostly a “Ford Guy” (that currently drives a Dodge Ram 1500), my all time favorite car is the Chevrolet Corvette. There is just something magical about the American icon, our only true sports car, that just gets to me. I mean seriously, how can stuffing a powerful V-8 engine into a tiny 2-seater with gorgeous curves not excite the normal, testosterone-fueled man?
I have been looking for a new-to-me Corvette for a while now, keeping on eye on AutoTrader and Corvette classified web-sites, waiting for the right one to come along. I am not rich, so my budget required me to look mostly at the 4th generation Corvettes (C4) that were built from 1984-1996. I’m not a huge fan of the C5’s, from 1997-2004, though I did look at one. I really love the 6th and 7th generation Corvettes, but I’d have to rob a bank or run some blow out of Florida to afford those. The first and second generations (Up to 1967) sell for more than my house, and the C3’s (Shark) that were popular in the 70’s and early 80’s were, with a few exceptions, terrible cars that the government, and GM mismanagement, almost killed. Within the C4 years, I limited my search to 1992 to 1996 Vettes because I wanted the higher horsepower engines, the curvy body style, and none of the problems associated with the 80’s cars.
I found what I thought was the perfect Corvette for me, a 1996 Coupe in Torch Red, 6-speed manual transmission, the powerful LT4 engine from the Grand Sport (1996 was the only year this was offered), and in as mint condition as possible for a car with 115,000 miles. It had been owned for over 18 years by a retired engineer at Disney and spent most of it’s life in central Florida, but was now in Blairsville in northern Georgia. I sent an email to the owner, Bruce, to get more information about the car and we started a lengthy email chain of questions and answers, as well as a few phone calls.
It was time to talk to Missy about it. While she would never be completely on-board with the idea of adding a car we don’t really need (I “needed” it, but WE didn’t), she was understanding, so the conversation about price and shipping with Bruce started happening. We were very nervous about buying a car that we had never actually seen, much less drove. Bruce took more pictures for me, and even posted 3 videos online for us to review. He pointed out the problems as well, showing us the good and bad things with the car, though there were very few bad. We agreed on price and started trying to figure out how to actually get the car to us in North Carolina.
I thought about moving it myself, by driving to Blairsville or flying into Chattanooga. I looked at Greyhound, Amtrak, and the airlines. I thought about renting a Uhaul trailer and towing it home. Our schedules did not align, and all options were expensive and had logistical issue to solve. In the end, I posted an ad on uship.com to try to find a commercial driver that could pick up the car and drop it on my driveway for a reasonable price. I immediately received a TON of quotes, most around $1,000. That was just too much, it’s only 441 miles between Bruce’s house and ours. Once the big auto transport companies got out of the way, smaller 1-man operations started giving me quotes. One man, Dion Gomez with XGSK Transport, quoted me $400 and said he was already in north Georgia and could pick up the car within 12 hours. He was scheduled to come to North Carolina for a pickup, so this meant he didn’t have to deadhead the trip here. It worked out great for all of us. Dion and Bruce coordinated the pickup and at 3PM yesterday the Corvette was in my driveway, less than 20 hours after first contacting Dion!
The Corvette itself is a 1996 Coupe with the LT4 (330 Horsepower) engine, 6-speed manual transmission, and has chrome wheels from the C6 Corvette. It came with the factory service manual, a couple of magazines with reviews of the car, bra’s for the front and mirrors, a car cover, extra air filters, a canvas removable top, and various other bits and pieces. The valve covers are signed by Corvette Chief Engineer Dave McClellan, as well as race drivers Steve Park, and Andy Pilgrim. It also came with the original (laminated) window sticker showing a price of $44,224 ($71,056 in 2018 dollars) and is also signed by Dave McClellan.
As I said, I was very worried about buying a car from a stranger on the Internet, especially without having seen it first. Once I actually saw the car, my fears were alleviated. It is absolutely beautiful, in incredible condition, and far exceeded my expectations. Without further delay, here she is!