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Road Trip (Story Below)

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Road Trip

True story, continued. Perhaps others have shared this same sort of experience. In the summer of 1982, with a fresh newly rebuilt engine, I prepared for a 4,000 mile road trip. Albuquerque, Yellowstone, Seattle, San Diego, Las Vegas and back home again. I did all my research and located my overnight locations, estimated how much gas I'd need (a lot), and made use of every square inch of available space (not much, but luckily I have a rear mounted luggage rack). I was traveling solo until Seattle where I would pick up a passenger for the rest of the trip. (So had to reserve enough space for those bags as well.)

Up until now I had not taken my Corvette on any type of trip other than within a 30 mile radius of Albuquerque. I load up, gas up and head out. The world is mine - open road, a rocket ship of a vehicle - what more could I ask for. Life was good. My initial leg took me headed toward Denver, north on I-25. I swear that when I reached Las Vegas (NM), my butt was aching. Man did that seat feel like a wooden plank all of a sudden. I also did not have cruise control, so not much opportunity to squirm around. I pulled over in Las Vegas and dug through my small suitcase to find whatever I could to fashion a pillow to sit on. I managed something which apparently worked well enough.

As a side note: there is a story posted on this web site titled "Rock On", published 3/8/15 which details one particularly fun story along this journey. As I passed through Yellowstone (late May mid you) I encountered a snowfall. A heavy snowfall where the road was a white sheet, wipers on high and me white-knuckled with a car that was definitely not ideal for snow. To my relief the snow only lasted about 20 minutes as I crested the Tetons and began my way down. After that experience I was only on snow one other time, in Denver 1983 where I got stuck trying to pull into my garage following a VERY short trip (as in about 1/8 mile).

Back to the road trip, the trip to Seattle was uneventful except for a stop about 100 miles east of Seattle. I had installed a very nice theft unit. One where if set, the car would run for about 10-15 seconds then die. I also believed I had some starter motor problems because one of the wires was really close to the header and had burned up before, requiring a new wire. I pulled into a McDonalds, grabbed a burger and climbed back in for the last 2 hours. Won't start. Won't turn over. I spent 90 minutes on my back in a McDonald's parking lot, rocks digging into my back as I worked on replacing that starter motor wire (see last week's post to understand my knee-jerk reaction to assume a problem before I actually determine the issue.) Wire looked good, but I replaced it anyway. Finally - 90 minutes later - I hop in, turn the key - nothing. I am NOT a happy camper now. I go back into McDonald's to clean up and consider what next. I came out and went to put something behind the driver's seat - where the alarm switch was. Turns out that before I turned off the engine when I arrived, I had reached behind the seat to get something. I apparently tripped my alarm. As I put something back behind the seat - that light bulb came on, I reached back, flipped the switch and she fired up. Wow did I feel stupid. The only good thing I suppose was that it was a clear day (no rain) and that I had parked far enough away from others that I had actual room to crawl under the car (using a jack that would barely lift the tire off the ground.)

I won't bore you with the rest of the journey other than to say that driving highway 1 down the Pacific coast was a true joy. Now this was decades ago and with all the fires in California this may not exist now - but the 30 miles or so north of San Francisco on highway 1 were out of this world beautiful. Sun shining through a canopy of laves from trees on both sides of the road creating a tunnel-like environment. No other traffic, gentle sweeping turns - this quite possibly was the best 30 miles or so (maybe 50) I have even driven, anywhere.

Next week - finding the original owner in my back yard.

Source: True story from the webmaster

Submitted by Phil Ellison

Finding original owner - I am owner #4 - orig - Deitz farm/SF - NMCA - me Selling story - once national mag, once local - results.

Are You Kidding Me

True story, continued. Perhaps others have shared this same sort of experience. I was 24 when I purchased my '69 Corvette. I had plenty of other cars to that point, and insurance was never much of a concern. My driving record was (and still is) spotless. At 24, my mission was to buy that Corvette, and figure out the rest as it happened. Well, insurance happened straight away.

I honestly cannot remember who I had my auto insurance with at that time, but I do recall walking into their office prepared to put my Corvette onto my existing policy. As soon as the word Corvette came out of my mouth I could sense trouble ahead. Next came the details - year, engine size (that got his eyebrows up), etc. He put his pen down and thumbed through some paperwork (long before computers). Without too much hesitation, he stated that he would be unable to add a Corvette to my policy since I was under 25 and the 427 engine made it a red flagged high performance vehicle. (I was sort of proud of this fact - damn straight!)

I thought that by law, my current insurance would cover a newly acquired vehicle, regardless of what it was. But now that I had a face-to-face "no way" - I was unclear if I really had coverage or not. I assumed I did and left - with my new and important mission of finding insurance. Several calls that day, and I soon learned this age issue was industry wide. Minor panic, but I knew there was a way. Within a few days of my last phone calls to various agents, I walked into Sears at Coronado Center - for something other than insurance. I walked past an All State insurance booth set-up in a busy traffic area at the store entrance. Heading for the tool area I walked by. Luckily she casually asked if I needed home, renters or auto insurance. She hit a hot button, but my past experiences didn't give me much hope. I spent a few minutes with her (Doris - she became my new best friend that day). She had the same bad news - you are too young. She also told me that there were only two reasons to own a Corvette - to go fast, and to go faster. (again I was sort of proud, and in my case, she nailed it). But unlike other reps, she dug a little deeper. Long story short, once she learned I was a veteran and had an impressive career (air traffic controller), she made a call - and within a few minutes told me that my background and responsibility level in my career allowed them to bend that age requirement.

The premium was still a hefty amount, but it covered me and I was told that a year from now, with a clean record, my 25th birthday would bring a reduction in premiums. (FYI - when that day came, the reduction wasn't that much). I tended to shop at sears often enough that I would see Doris every other week or so. We became casual friends - she'd always ask if I was behaving myself and not speeding. I'd say yes (and my nose would grow an inch!) So I obtained insurance - although I was on thin ice for a while. I also brought my other car to All state at that time, and with the Corvette listed as a pleasure only vehicle - those rules were able to bend enough to make me a happy camper.

Next week - Corvette road trip.

Source: True story from the webmaster

Submitted by Phil Ellison

Wyoming story Finding original owner - I am owner #4 - orig - Deitz farm/SF - NMCA - me Selling story - once national mag, once local - results.

Labor Of Love

True story, continued. Perhaps others have shared this same sort of experience. I was always a "car-guy", meaning, I had a pretty good idea of what happened under the hood. I'd rebuilt engines before, I have replaced transmissions, I had the bare essential tools to accomplish most endeavors I took on. But until I bought my first Corvette, these other cars were, well, just another car. My '69 Corvette changed that mentality.

I quickly got my tools laid out and started exploring my newly acquired Corvette with a massive 427 power house. Even before purchasing the Corvette, I knew an engine rebuild was in the works. I purchased in early November, and in the first week of January the engine was out and delivered to a guy I'd found who was better suited to do this work. He owned 4 Corvettes and seemed to have the same love for these cars. He also worked at Knightons machine shop, plus had his own very well appointed machine shop in his 6 car garage.

After the fresh engine was back in place, my spare time became all about re-jetting the Holley carb, tweaking timing, replacing a lot of crap that probably didn't need replacing, and the list goes on. This didn't go on for a week or two - this went on for years. Of course, I was in NMCA and monthly I'd be around other Vette owners, most of whom were in my same age bracket and also were into tweaking and fixing. I'd hear a story about how someone did this or that - then run home and see if I could get another ounce of power by making the same adjustment. This was fun. Kept me out of the bars too. Remember, this was that golden period where you could burn the candle at both ends and still make it in to work on time. Those days vanished for me, but I have fond memories. When did I sleep? Who knows. And to conclude this portion of my story - my "tweaking" and enjoyment of getting under the hood didn't really slow down about 2010. What I found was that even if I didn't constantly get my hands dirty under the hood, the Corvette still ran just fine. I often wonder how much money I spent on parts that I probably did not need to replace. I just hope I'm not alone.

Next week - the wake-up call I got at 24 trying to buy insurance for my Corvette.

Source: True story from the webmaster

Submitted by Phil Ellison

Love At First Sight

True story. Perhaps others have shared this same sort of experience. In the summer of '69 I was anxiously awaiting my driver's license. On a sunny warm day, downtown Seattle with my father I saw a new '69 Corvette pass by, and I told my dad that I wanted a '69 Stingray Corvette. He chuckled and told me that if I wanted a '69 Corvette, that I'd better start saving now.

Skip ahead 10 years (I now live in Albuquerque) - August 1979 a friend of mine had a '73 Corvette. He even let me drive it - which made him my #1 best friend for sure! He introduced me to NMCA as he participated in autocross events at the PIT parking lot (back when they had several lots - without those concrete barriers). I was captivated from the first moment. Long story short, I had eyed all the Corvettes that showed up two events - and a couple of months later my friend called to say that the yellow '69 427 4-speed I had been drooling over was for sale. Skip ahead a few weeks and I am now the owner of that '69 Corvette.

For those who remember the moment leaded gasoline went away - well - that was the week after I bought the Corvette. Driving home from making the car purchase on November 7th, 1979 I swung by a Diamond Shamrock and tanked up. The next time I went to that Diamond Shamrock (the following week), leaded gas was no longer available. Hey - I was 23 and lived in the moment, and didn't plan too far ahead apparently.

Next week - little did I know how much time I would devote to a piece of machinery - inside and out.

Source: True story from the webmaster

Submitted by Phil Ellison

Ground Bound Blue Angel

Corvette has long-standing ties to the military and for John "Sparky" Lersch, his tie to Corvette is because of the military.

After a moderately successful high school football stint in Pittsburgh, PA, Sparky was recruited to play football for a number of college programs, including United States Naval Academy coach Steve Belichick (father of New England Patriot's coach Bill Belichick). "I didn't really want to go. After growing up in the north, I wanted to go south where it was warm and attend the University of Miami," said Sparky. "My dad wanted me to follow in his footsteps - join the Navy, become a Navy pilot, fly off aircraft carriers. On the drive back home after talking to Coach Belichick, as we neared my house we drove right past the high school homecoming queen's house. For her 16th birthday she had received a 1967 dark green Corvette convertible. Fate gave me the opportunity and nerve to say to my dad, 'If I go to the Naval Academy, will you buy me a new Corvette?' He extended his hand and our deal was struck. Tuition at Navy was free, so my dad, an accountant at the time, made out pretty well."

Sparky's Senior year he was finally allowed to have a car on campus, so he and his dad visited the local Chevrolet dealer who offered great deals to midshipman. Sparky picked out a 1973 Corvette, Dark Blue with Beige interior, fully loaded and stickered at $5,600. Eight weeks later, out of the St. Louis factory, his dream car had arrived.

"Up until this point I had never even sat in a Corvette. I wanted my first experience to be with my own car. I'm 6'2", and that's about as tall as you could be to sit in one at the time."

Read the full story

Source: NCM

Submitted by Phil Ellison

All previous news postings can be viewed using the "News" link

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