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Yeah, It's Cool Looking, But Can You Travel In That Thing?

Richard Reed

Yes, you can. Ever since I was 11 and my scoutmaster showed up at the weekly troop meeting in his new blue 1964 Corvette roadster, I knew someday I would have one.

It took a long time and for the usual reasons: marriage, career, children, mortgage, etc. Also, I had become an ardent fan of two-wheeled transportation, so my "garage money" was spent on Kawasakis, Triumphs and a Honda or two.

Then one day, several factors brought me to the decision to buy a Covette. One was an encounter with a deer while on a bike trip that curtailed my riding for a while. Second, both sons graduated from college and the loans were paid off. Third, I was one of a team of four that put in some long hours which won my employer a huge contract, so there was "a little extra something in the pay envelope." And finally, driving my wife's Miata convinced me that there were indeed cars out there that I could have fun in.

I was totally ignorant on Corvette lore. I didn't know a Z51 from a P-51. All I knew was that I wanted a blue coupe with a manual transmission. I didn't know that for the 2004 model year, the only way to get the color blue was to buy a LeMans Commemorative. I established contact with a local dealer who had a good reputation for honesty and decent prices. They had a blue LMC coupe on the showroom floor that seemed to be the poster child for all the options. It was loaded, and the MSRP reflected that. The salesman showed me the different cars he had in stock, most of which had automatic transmissions. I'm from the 50's and 60's, where we considered a Corvette with an auto transmission to ne like taking your sister to the prom: she may be the hottest babe there, but it just ain't the same action.

I was about to settle for my second color choice, white, and we had agreed on a price, when I told the salesman that what I really liked was the coupe in the showroom but the price was just too much. He asked if he could get me the blue one for the same price we agreed on the white, would I take it? Turns out that the showroom car was just too loaded for most Corvette fans, plus the manual transmission turned away buyers, and it was starting to eat into the dealer's floor-plan budget (i.e. the interest-free grace period was over and he was now paying interest). The dealer told his staff to move the car and even offered a bonus to the sales person who did. So, in complete ignorance, I now own a LeMans Commemorative Coupe, with the Z-51 package, 12 CD changer, HUD, and all sorts of extras.

While I did join the local Vette club, my interest in the car tends more to driving it than hanging out in parking lots with other Corvette owners on weekends. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but I'd rather be shooting apexes on Racer Road along with the sport bike crew, or taking a long road trip via the curviest "blue lines" I can find on the map. I've driven my car to Bowling Green, to Southern California on business trips, to Arizona for fun, explored southern British Columbia, eastern Oregon, Montana, Colorado, Wyoming, and my home state of Washington.

People ask me how I can stand to travel in the car, especially with the Z51 suspension, but after putting thousands of miles on motorcycles, anything that has AC, a roof, cup holders, a wide seat and a stereo is pure luxury to me. Other than the dim HVAC panel readout issue, which I easily fixed myself, the car has been trouble free, and has 91K miles on the ODO. My grandsons love taking a spin with me from time to time, and the littlest guy calls it "Jeff Gordvette," after the Pixar movie "Cars" character. The car is part of the family. It has remained bone stock save for a set of slip-on seat covers and the CAGS override kit. And many, many washings and coats of wax,

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