A while back I did a few posts about my father’s quest for the vintage Jaguar of his dreams. From the many shows and renowned restoration shops we visited, I learned a heap about early XK cars like the 120 and E-Type. Fast forward to the present, where dad has substituted classic American muscle cars in where the gentlemanly British roadsters used to be. We’re now focused on finding a big block C2 Corvette with Knock-off Kelsey-Hayes wheels and side pipes loud enough to irritate the neighbors a little bit. So we did what any other sane person with Vettes on the brain would do…headed to Carlisle to check out the Corvette show of Corvette shows, soak up a little brand culture, learn more about collectable big blocks and perhaps score ourselves a new (well, new to us) Corvette.
Driving through the downtown area surrounding the fairgrounds was surreal. There were Corvettes absolutely everywhere. New ones, old ones, nice ones, ratty ones…there were all kinds. The beautiful Summer afternoon was filled with car talk amongst friends and screaming V8 engines being tested on the dynamometer. Bright eyed locals lined the sidewalks, watching and pointing as all the Vettes rumbled by in every color imaginable. There was even a parade on Saturday to honor legendary racer John Fitch, who in 1960 co-drove the first Corvette, the #3 Briggs Cunningham car, to ever capture a class win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Some of the more entrepreneurial townies who resided near the fairgrounds turned their driveways and backyards into paid parking lots and spent the weekend enthusiastically waving people in. The fact that they did this shirtless, beer in hand made it all that much more enjoyable.
See how we made out with a classic Vette and check out the many sights and sounds from the show after the jump. And if you really want to laugh, get a load of our Corvettes at Carlisle featured gallery with more cheeky vanity plates than you can shake a stick at.
After getting our fill of vanity plates, barbed wire tattoos and high rise cut off jean shorts, we headed over to some of the “Corvette Corrals” where several new and classic models were being offered for sale by their owners. This type of shopping presents opportunities and obstacles. On the plus side, you can browse what might be the largest and most diverse inventory of classic Vettes in one place at one time on the planet. And the owners are right there to tell you about the car. The bad news is that there are lot of people looking to sell you a nice, shiny fake. A Corvette to be certain, but perhaps that Corvette has parts with mismatched serial numbers (frame, engine, etc) or has seen the hot end of a blow torch for major accident repair that has conveniently not been mentioned in the advertisement.
My research has me thinking that a ‘65 Fuelie, or Fuel Injected, convertible is the right Corvette for us. While not as rare or valuable as the ‘67 427/435 L71 or aluminum headed L88, ‘65 was the last year for fuel injection (first year for four wheel disc brakes too) and only 771 Corvettes left the factory that year with the then $538 option. Authentic examples, what’s left of them, will certainly maintain their value over the long term and will hopefully appreciate as vintage pickings become slimmer and slimmer for the Corvette faithful moving forward. Sebring Silver over black would be amazing but color is less important to us than condition and originality.
Kevin Mackay, a leading Corvette restorer and 20+ year NCRS/Bloomington Gold judge, was good enough to help us look over a handsome convertible that piqued our interest early Sunday afternoon (description above). The price seemed too good to be true and the seller had no records or receipts to share with us. All he could tell us was that the car was restored about 10 years ago and there had been at least 2 owners since then. Hell, he had only taken possession of the thing 4 days ago. Good thing we had Kevin there to sort through the car’s unknown provenance. Within moments, he was feeling up the inside of the wheel wells and jamming his head inside the engine bay to search for identifying marks and evidence of authenticity. It only took him 5 minutes to discover that the engine had been re-stamped. How did he know? Apparently the font of the serial number was incorrect. A few minutes later he identified the passenger side headlight as being from another year and told us that the car had definitely been involved in a collision at some point in its past. The experience was akin to watching the forensics team from CSI: Las Vegas tell detectives all the dirty little secrets lurking at the crime scene. Maybe someone should pitch Jerry Bruckheimer and NBC on a new Corvette spinoff of the show.
We had a great time at the show but, based on Kevin’s findings, our search for an authentic ‘65 Fuelie continues.