Does Corvette Ownership Live Up to the Hype?
I had my first opportunity to drive a Corvette when I was in my early twenties. I was counter help in the parts department of a Chevy dealership in Northeast, Ohio. From my daily vantage point at the parts counter, I’d frequently see both new-and-used Corvettes being pulled into the dealership’s service department. Whenever one was pulled in for service, I’d rush out see it. Over time it became common knowledge that I had more than a passing interest in these cars.
One afternoon, as I stood talking to one of the service technicians about a car he was working on, I was asked to take a 1995 Corvette coupe out for a post-service test-drive. While this was common practice at the dealership, it was not normally my responsibility. However, one of the vehicle porters in our service department who had frequently seen me drooling over these cars whenever one came in for service asked me if I wanted to “take it out for a ride.” It was an experience that would change my life forever.
My love affair with the Corvette started when I was pretty young – long before that fateful day when I got to climb behind the wheel of that C4. My grandfather had owned a collection of die-cast cars that included several model Corvettes. He had shared these models with me and taught me about these cars. From early on, even before I knew the reasons why, I knew that these American made sports cars were something special.
Over time I began to see them at various car shows and on the open road. I became familiar enough with each generation of Corvette to know the difference between them(though it would be many years before I’d really be able to talk (or write) about them with any authority.)
Still, it wasn’t until I actually got behind the wheel of that 1995 Corvette that I knew I’d own one someday. However, once I knew, I KNEW. From that day forward I began putting money away towards my first Corvette. I had no idea how long it would take (though it would end up taking me twenty-one years) to save enough money to buy one. I just knew that one day I’d own one and I truly believed that it would be as life changing as that first ride had been.
Both the Corvette and I had evolved considerably from the day I’d driven that 1995 model. I’d created Corvsport.com in 2010. I had begun creating content for the website with the hope that I could share my obsession for these cars with like-minded people, and maybe make enough money along the way to purchase my car. More than that though, I had created the website as a means of providing other would-be owners and enthusiasts with a repository for all-things Corvette. It has been – and continues to be nine years later – an homage from a tried-and-true Corvette enthusiast to the American Sports Car.
The Corvette had changed too. It had evolved from the powerful, but uncomfortable fourth-generation C4 to a far-more refined, and far more powerful C7 Corvette Stingray. Each iteration of the Corvette that had followed the C4 had seen the car transform in leaps-and-bounds.
Still, the question remained – is Corvette Ownership everything they say it is?
The answer is a difficult one to arrive at. Ask 100 Corvette owners and you’ll get 100 different answers….and I don’t think a simple “yes” or “no” response will suffice. Since I can only speak about my own experiences with Corvette ownership, and since those experiences are biased by the massive amount of “over expectation” that I’d created in my own mind during the 20+ years it took me to actually purchase one, I can almost guarantee that mine answer will be more tainted (for both better and worse) than others. Still, I will try to answer the question as objectively as I can. Just understand my biases when reading the answer.
One other thing you should know – I got a little spoiled before buying my C6. My wife had rented a seventh-generation Corvette Stingray convertible for our wedding anniversary about a year before I bought my C6, so I had a full weekend of driving the highly-refined, technology-packed C7 to further add to my bias about MY Corvette.
So again I ask the question….this time to myself:
Is Corvette Ownership Everything They Say It Is?
It was pretty exciting the day I got to bring my 2013 C6 Corvette coupe home. Climbing behind the wheel that first time after signing all the paperwork (and signing over that cashier’s check that took me so many years to save) was about as good as it gets. I was elated, nervous, a little terrified and a lot excited by the prospect of bringing this car home with the certainty that I’d be able to drive it whenever I wanted. More than that, I immediately had the realization that I’d gone from “wanting” a Corvette to “owning” one. It’s hard to say which is the better feeling. Sometimes I think the wanting of a thing is almost as good as having the thing itself.
Within the first few weeks of ownership, once the uncertainty of leaving the car anywhere for more than a few minutes began to subside a bit, the enjoyment of ownership continued to increase. The constant waves from other owners, and from people wanting to see the car up-close also added to the enjoyment of ownership. In many ways, one of the best parts of owning a Corvette is getting to share the car with other people. Perhaps seeing my car has even inspired other young souls to pursue their own dream of future ownership, just as my encounter with one back in 1995 had inspired me.
I also discovered quickly that Corvettes are temperamental vehicles that require a fair amount of care and maintenance to keep them happy. The “illusion” of ownership is what GM sells at the auto shows and thru their beautifully crafted marketing campaigns. The “reality” of Corvette ownership is this: while they are undeniably fun to drive, they can be a royal pain in the ass.
The C6 Corvette has a constant electrical load on it that, left unattended, will eventually deplete its battery to nothing. And don’t even consider leaving any accessories (such as a radar detector) plugged in for more than a few hours with the engine turned off.
One of the first “accessories” I purchased for my Corvette was a battery tender that I connect religiously anytime I anticipate my Corvette is going to sit for more than a few days time. This purchase followed the replacement battery I had to acquire when I’d failed to properly disconnect the radar detector one late fall day before putting the car in the garage for several days due to inclement weather. Costly mistake, but good learning lesson too.
Another issue that I’ve become familiar with is the overall build quality of these cars – especially on cosmetic components (like the car’s front fascia).
Let’s be honest – the Corvette is a lot of car for NOT a lot of money. Purchasing a similarly-powered European sports car would cost 3 to 4 times what a typical Corvette costs most consumers. Given that, there’s bound to be some fit-and-finish issues that “pop-up” from time to time. I just didn’t expect components to literally pop-up, but that’s exactly what happened.
On the C6 Corvette, the front fascia has this known issue wherein the section around the headlights tends to pop-up, causing the car to develop mini “horns” along its otherwise smooth exterior. While the replacement clips are surprisingly cheap (less than $1.00 each), they’re a bit of a pain to install. Moreover, its frustrating to me as a Corvette owner that I have to worry about such things to begin with. Unfortunately, this is a reality of the brand. Even the current generation Corvettes have quality issue that plague their owners and make for some heated debates on social media.
Even so, these types of issues have become common knowledge for Corvette enthusiasts around the globe, and must be recognized as one of the responsibilities of ownership. As “Spider-Man’s” uncle is famous for saying “with great power comes great responsibility.” Enough said.
What makes the Corvette “worth it” is this. While you can climb behind the wheel of almost any car these days and discover enough power to push you back into your seat and give you a bit of a thrill, there are few cars on this planet at the pricepoint of a Corvette that will give you the overall driving experience that these cars offer. From taking a sharp corner way too fast to hitting 100+ mph while in 3rd gear,, these cars deliver their operators a level of performance that is virtually unaffordable in any other brand. They deliver a driving experience that was developed on the racetrack by some of the best engineers and drivers in the world, and they translate that experience into a car that is equally comfortable going for a leisurely ride on a Sunday afternoon.
But here is what makes ownership REALLY worthwhile. If you own a Corvette, you are part of a community, a family. Corvette owners are some of the most down-to-earth, good-hearted people you’ll ever meet. Because Corvette ownership is affordable (especially when buying used), the demographic of Corvette owners is as diverse as the car itself. That makes it an inclusive group. Head to an event at the Corvette Museum and you’ll be surrounded by current owners, prospective owners, enthusiasts of all ages and fans of the brand that enjoy celebrating the American Sports Car. There are no airs or pretenses. Talk to the guy with the brand-new 2019 ZR-1 and you’re as likely to be encouraged to look under the hood or climb behind the wheel as you’d be from the guy driving the 1995 Corvette – that same car which now has 140,000 miles on it and the very same one that yours truly drove when it was new twenty-four years earlier. In both cases, you’ll be greeted with a smile and a shared appreciation for these amazing sports cars.
So is owning a Corvette worth it? Damn right it is!