Booster Masthead

Restoration Blvd.
June 2001

Columnist — Allen Wright

But Where Do You Park Them All? Musings on Being a Car Guy and Some Corvette History

The storm approaches: all my old cars are coming home at the same time.

It has been years since I have seen my 1977 Corvette but soon she will be home. The 1963 Plymouth Super Stock is also on the way back home with fresh paint and a new interior — just no motor. And, finally, the 1972 Monte Carlo, which has been working as a prop in a Showtime series, is returning.

Each one of these vehicles has a story but the story around here now is where will they all be parked? There are some issues as there are two other cars in our household — a VW and a Dodge van — that are both daily drivers.

The VW driver has enjoyed the luxury of a comfy garage and is now looking at the driveway with disdain. My Dodge and I are already resigned to using the curbside parking graciously provided by the City of Anaheim.

I have owned the 1977 Corvette for over 10 years and it is my favorite of the fleet. It has unbelievable acceleration, great handling and that look. It’s the last year of the Corvette Shark Coupe. From the first day I saw the car — in the parking lot at the Las Vegas Hilton — I knew that this particular Corvette was special.

There is a story to tell about most old cars and this is the story of mine. I learned about its history from records that I acquired when I bought the car.

The Corvette was originally leased by a Mr. L on November 31, 1977 from First Leasing Company of Chicago. Mr. L drove the Corvette from Chicago to Los Angeles in early 1978 and turned it in to a Chevrolet dealer. The Corvette had 6,931.4 miles on it on April 2, 1978 when it was turned in. 7,000 miles in a little over three months — Mr. L must have really liked cruising.

On April 28, 1978, Mr. A purchased the Corvette from the dealer, apparently for cash, and registered the car in California. Although the car was owned by Mr. A, all the receipts indicate it was primarily driven by a Ms S.

Mr. A sold the Corvette to Mr. and Mrs. M. on or about June 30, 1979. From 1980 to 1985, the Corvette was in storage, awaiting some type of legal settlement and it eventually ended up in the hands of a used car dealer.

In 1985, the car was purchased by Ms. R who restored almost everything, including a high-performance engine rebuild.

Ms R was a professional model. Among her bookings were trade shows — including the SEMA Show in Las Vegas. I was parking my Chevy Van in the Hilton Parking lot to work the show when I first saw the Corvette and met Ms R. She really loved the car and even had trick paint with her signature in blue on the driver’s side roof pillar.

I would always look for the car when working trade shows and would often find Ms R and the Corvette. In fact, in 1988, on the way to SEMA, Ms R went blasting by me on I-15 around Barstow. Every time I would go out of my way to find Ms R at SEMA and ask two questions: did she still have the Corvette? And did she want to sell it?

Unfortunately, she never wanted to sell the car.

One day, I drove past a used car lot in Orange and saw what I thought looked a lot like Ms R’s Corvette — except it had no license plates and a hasty paint job.

The salesman told me that all the records about the Corvette were inside the car. I looked inside and, sure enough, it was Ms R’s car. I found her phone number in the records, copied it down and then left the dealership.

I went home and called Ms R. She told me that she had to unload the car quickly to take care of some legal expenses for her boyfriend — that was the only reason she was selling the car.

So on September 28, 1990 I purchased the Corvette. It had 75,000 miles on it as well as an interesting history.

There is something about those old Shark bodies that is exciting. And I definitely enjoy the horsepower developed by a heavily-modified 350 Chevrolet V-8. I put about 30,000 miles on the car in seven years. But for the last three years, it has been living at a custom paint shop in Van Nuys.

My Corvette has been over-maintained by every owner — including me. In addition to its new paint, I’ve done a lot of projects on the car: replaced the cam shaft in the engine; put a shift kit in the transmission; rebuilt the trailing arms; replaced the dash and all the gauges; and installed a 50,000 volt coil and related ignition parts.

And now it’s on its way home again. I am looking forward to many happy days of motoring when the Corvette comes home.

But now comes the storm. What cars get garage space? And what cars get parked outdoors? Should I use the actual value of the car? This would guarantee a spot for the Plymouth and the VW inside.

Should I use the age of the vehicle? The ’63 Plymouth would win again, followed by the ’72 Monte Carlo, then the ’77 Corvette. The owner of 2001 VW might be a little cranky with this last scenario.

I got it! It is all crystal clear to me now. I won’t worry until it happens. Anticipation of troubles seems to always make a nice day into a gloomy one.

I am going to put on my sweater and sing the Mr. Rogers song, "It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood." The way things work around here, all the cars will never be home at the same time. The Anaheim forecast looks sunny and bright.

Originally published in the June 2001 Automotive Booster Magazine.
Copyright June 2001 by KAL Publications Inc.

Covering the California auto parts aftermarket since 1928.