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Dreams Of An 8-Year-Old

Brad Beall

The first Corvette I saw up close and personal was my neighbor’s 1959 when I was 8. He lived around the corner (I’m guessing he was in his late 20s to early 30s) and he had to drive by my house to get to his. He always had a smile on his face as he cruised by with the top down. He was also a race car driver and we’d go watch him race USAC Midgets at the local stadium. I subconsciously told myself I’d have a Corvette and be a race car driver some day!

A couple of years later in 1963, I remember my big sister coming home after she and her boyfriend had gone to the local Chevy dealer to look at the new cars. Couples did things like that back then. She announced that the new Corvette looked like “a spaceship… it has no headlights!” Fast forward about 27 years. I am now married with 3 boys and we're attending the Bloomington Gold show. I’m ready to buy my first Corvette!

I find a very clean, low mileage white mid 1980s C3 with red interior and glass T-tops at a good price. Though my ‘dream’ Corvette was a mid 1960s coupe, this C3 was too good a deal to pass up. I wanted it, however my wife (who I should have left home) reminded me (as wives tend to do) that I had old junk in my garage and that I needed to get rid of it before I brought something else home.

The ‘junk’ she was referring to was my old Datsun 240Z that was in dire need of restoration, having been my ‘daily’ driver for 15 years of Midwest winters. I hate to admit it, but she was right. I took the money I had and put it into that old Z car. Alas, my Corvette would have to wait. (No regrets, as I’m the original owner of that Z and I still have it.)

Fast forward again about 12 more years. I am now in my late 40s, single and my kids have grown. So it’s ALL about me now. I attend all the local cruise nights and car shows I can, still shopping for my first Corvette.

At one local show I spot a 1963 Split Window Coupe with a 4-sale sign (327 - 300hp – 4 speed)! I had always wanted a mid 1960s coupe, but finding a split window was too good to be true! It’s black with tan interior, which I found to be a strange combination, but beautiful none-the-less. The guy who owns it was a familiar (car show) local and one of those Corvette guys that buys one, plays with it awhile and then sells it and buys another. He was only asking what he had put into it, which was only about half of what it was actually worth. DONE DEAL! I knew I was going to buy it, even before I drove it the next day, no matter what it might need. But it drove great.

I finally had my first Corvette and, as it turned out, one of the most rare and sought after! I was in the right place at the right time. Truly an icon, it gets a lot of attention and it’s impossible to be in a bad mood while driving it! A couple of years later, I joined a private race club near my home and was able to do a little road racing. I also became an instructor.

My dream as an 8-year-old has actually come true! I also had the opportunity to buy a C4 convertible around this time. It needed some work, but once again it was a good deal. There‘s just something about a Corvette convertible! The following year I attended the 2005 Chicago Auto Show and was able to sit in the new (not yet available) C6 Z-06! It’s an awesome automobile by any standard, and I really wanted to own what would be the baddest Corvette ever made. I managed to get one almost exactly a year later, which is a whole other story.

So, I went from no Corvettes for 48 years to being the proud owner of three. I have since sold the C4 (which I regret), but have no plans to sell the other two. They are part of my family. To be continued…I really like the C7s!

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