If I remember correctly, gasoline was about twenty-five cents a gallon. I think the United States was producing a lot greater proportion of our oil supply at that time. We weren't nearly so dependent on the foreign oil producing countries. But that's another story for another time. You could buy a sixteen-ounce Coca Cola in a glass bottle for ten cents. A ticket for a Saturday matinee movie was thirty-five cents. And automobiles were not nearly as expensive as they are today.
On that particular day, I was in the showroom of a Chevrolet dealer in Independence, Missouri. I was waiting for them to finish up the paperwork on a Chevelle Malibu I had just purchased. There wasn't much to do to fill the time except to look at the cars on the showroom floor. One of them was a brand new, bright red, 1967 Corvette convertible. It was gorgeous, of course. I looked at the sticker and read the price: $5,700. Naturally, it was way out of my price range. But from that day on I dreamed of someday owning a Corvette.
I searched for 40 years, on and off, but never could find exactly what I was looking for. A new one was out of the range of possibilities, but a well-maintained pre-owned Vette would fill the bill. But I was picky. Being an artist, I'm a bit of a perfectionist. And I couldn't find a pristine and perfect Vette at a price I was willing to pay. By the way, if you would like to see some of my paintings and prints you can visit http://www.wildheartgallery.net/.
But we're not here to talk about painting. Let's get back to the subject at hand. I finally got serious about two years ago and decided, at 59 years old, that it was time to either find my dream car or forget about it altogether. And forgetting about it didn't seem like a good option. You just can't let a lifelong desire fade away and become an unrealized dream.
So I began looking a little more seriously. I searched the country, spent excessive time on ebay, and surfed the net checking out what was available at the local dealers.
March 15th of last year (2008) was a beautiful and sunny spring day. That's the day I saw it for the first time. It was sitting on the front line at Morse Chevrolet in Overland Park, Kansas. I thought it was new when I drove past it the first time and almost didn't stop. But, as fate would have it, I decided to turn around just to check it out.
The closer I got, the better it looked. It didn't have what you would call a "ten-foot paint job." Even at a foot away, it was slick and shiny without a scratch visible. The interior was equally perfect. The previous owner had babied it, and it looked as if it had just been driven off the showroom floor. After speaking to Chad Barker, the Sales Manager, the great news was that it was in my price range!
I was surprised to learn that it was 2001 model year. And I was even more surprised when I learned it only had 22,780 miles on the clock. What sold me on this particular Corvette was the envelope in the glove compartment containing a letter from the previous owners and addressed to "The New Owner." The letter indicated that the car had a name. They had named it Berry, perhaps because of the Magnetic Red color. It also included their name and a phone number to call with any questions — and a request to please take good care of Berry because it had been a great car for them. Well, that pretty much sold me.
The dealer was asking $27,500 for Berry. I knew the Kelly Blue Book value was very close to that price, but naturally you always want to try to negotiate when you can. I offered them $25,000. Of course I had to wait while they thought about it, as they always do. They returned with a story about another buyer who was interested at full price. This buyer was supposed to come back in a day or two to buy it. My reply was that the other buyer may or may not come back, but I was there right now with an offer to write the check as soon as they agreed. It didn't take long for them to see the logic in accepting my offer.
The deal went very smoothly. They were great to deal with and met all of my expectation. I would highly recommend them if you're in the market for a Corvette, or any other car. I felt I was treated very fairly.