Up until just a few years ago, I was the sometimes-proud owner of a shiny, silver, mid-80s Corvette. It was a big step up from my mid-80s Z28 Camaro, but where the Camaro showed its flaws on the outside, the Corvette was equally good at hiding them underneath its shell.
This Corvette had a beautiful paint job with custom pinstripes, shiny aftermarket rims, and a removable top. On the other hand, the previous owners of this mean machine had neglected to take care of the rest of it. The engine smoked and the exhaust manifold was caked in sludge, the carpet in the trunk area looked like glowing-hot metal had been set down on it, and the stock, Bose stereo hardly worked, among other issues.
One random, summer day in Ohio, inspiration struck and I wiggled under the car to see why the retractable radio antenna was permanently stuck in the “up” position. Someone had cut the wires going to the antenna motor and capped them, so I uncapped and reconnected them, only to discover that there was an electrical short – probably a grounding issue somewhere, anywhere – which caused the antenna motor to run continuously. This just made me wonder how many unseen problems I had yet to discover.
I should point out here that I don’t exactly consider myself to be a car guy. Sure, I can change brakes, oil, and spark plugs, and I once partially rebuilt a front-end after hitting a deer. But what I know about the subject is, by no means, expert level. A lot of it has come from trial and error, reading lots of manuals and message boards, and watching videos online.
The boiling point with this vehicle, both figuratively and literally, came when the Corvette overheated on the highway one Spring morning, on the way to work. The digital temperature gauge on the dash (pretty futuristic for that time) showed the heat going into the red, so I took the next exit, which was close, and I looked under the hood. The freakin’ coolant was boiling and steam was rolling out! I knew the car troubles were beyond my skill-set, so I limped the car to work after the car’s temperature and my blood pressure came down.
The Corvette stayed in the warehouse there for a couple weeks, until I had it hauled home and put it up for sale. I just wasn’t into the challenge and the money the car promised to require. I made a quick sale and left my job soon afterward to head to audio school. I am a pathetic consumer so, rather than buying a new, big TV or whatever, the money made from selling the car was used to invest in myself. Despite the many headaches, though, there wasn’t much cooler than cruising around, at 21 years old, in a Corvette.
The guy I sold it to was planning on fixing it up for drag racing. I hope it’s worked out as planned, although a small, small, very small part of me actually wishes I still had that danged thing.