About three times a year, on the big holidays (Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter) I am required by marriage to drive south from Louisville, Kentucky to Hodgenville for a family dinner with my wife’s extended family. This past Thanksgiving, I had recently purchased my 2016 Corvette and it was quite the conversation starter unlike my last car.
“I got a Corvette too!” My wife’s cousin exclaimed as we sat down to dinner. “Check out my license plate!”
He pulled out his iPhone and showed me his near-showroom condition 1998 Corvette convertible, complete with a pristine Torch Red paint job in a massive garage.
“Nice!” I replied. I then proceeded to get nerdy, because I felt a potential common bond forming. I am a man of passion, so when I find others share similar interest, I can’t help but get more into the conversation.
“Auto or manual? Does it have the Z51 package?” I inquired, hoping and praying I could not only learn the specifics of the car, but maybe something new about the C5 I didn’t know.
“It is an automatic, but it has an LS1! My license plate tells you it is a 1998 LS1!”
“Cool!” I’m nervous, because I’m scared he is falling into the Corvette driver stereotype, but I soldier on.
“How much you drive your car? I’ve owned mine for about 3 months and put nearly 2,000 miles on it. I’m hoping to do some track time next year.”
“So,” he replied, “I’ve owned the car for two years and put 1,500 miles on it in that time.”
Wow. Well, there goes that common ground. Back to repeating where I work, listening to the extended family rattle on about what others on Facebook are up to, and spewing misinformed political bullet points.
I used to get worked up about stanceworks, altezza tail lights, and putting bolt-on parts on a motor that barely yielded any gains, but were good at growing a deficit in your bank account. However, nothing gets me more worked up than a car that sits—especially a car that is mass-produced. Browsing Corvetteforum’s C7 General Discussion section doesn’t help much with the annoyance. In addition to insulting the engineers who put countless hours of their life into making the C7 the best car it can be, all while retaining the Corvette’s legendary fuel economy, it is just bad for the car. A car that runs constantly and is driven is better than a car that sits. I was fortunate enough to get my car from a gentleman who daily drove it, and was passionate about cars. I told him the day he handed me the keys I would keep driving it often.
Many times, I have wondered silently to myself what these people would say on their deathbed when inquired about their life experiences when it comes to their cars they refuse to let see either a drop of rain or the far end of the tachometer. Would they say “Yes, I owned a <insert $30K-$100K sportscars> and just wish I hadn’t put those extra 100 miles on it.” Or would they say “I wish I got to experience what I worked so hard to get a little more.”
I truly believe, deep down inside, they would say the latter. We can all agree on one thing, regardless of religion, income level, or geographical location—we will die and none of it can come with us: the cars we drove or didn’t drive, the money we make, the houses we buy.
Pull out your 1968 Mustang with the V8, your 1998 C5, or your 2010 997.2 Carrera S. If the weather conditions are suitable for the tires, drive it. Today. If not today, tomorrow. Remind yourself why you worked your ass off to get this car to be part of your life. Create experiences in your car that means a lot to you, so you can have a story to share at the next get together with friends, or a tale to tell your children.
At the Christmas dinner just a couple weeks ago, my wife’s cousin who has the C5 asked me how my car was doing. I responded:
“Great. I drove it here.”