How I Killed My Vette

I bought my Corvette in the summer of 1966 in Lampasas, TX.  I killed it nine years later in the summer of 1975 in Downers Grove, IL.

Here are a few  things I learned about the car:

1)  paying for it is the easy part; keeping it on the road is what kept me broke.

2)  lots of guys want to steal it (three times). 

3)  fiberglass is a terrible thing to use to make a car body.  

4)  a posi-traction rear end can be deadly on wet pavement.  But it can also be fun to make the car spin in circles and scare the shit out of passengers.

Let me digress to talk about the thefts before I get to the killing story.  The first and third time, it was stolen for joy riding and recovered unharmed the next day.  The second time was more serious.  It had been missing for six weeks which was the time the insurance company would wait to declare it unrecoverable and pay me for it.  The insurance company called one morning to say the check had been cut, and I could pick it up the next day.  That afternoon, the Memphis police called to say the car had been recovered in Indiana.  I was disappointed because I had a new car picked out.   But the crazy twists were not over.

The insurance driver drove the car from Indiana to Memphis.  As he was turning into the All State parking lot in the rain, he hit the breaks too hard and the posi-traction did it’s spin trick, slamming the car into a utility pole.  It was another three or four weeks before the insurance company got the car repaired and ready to return to me.   But wait, there’s more!  The car could not be returned until I signed off on the paperwork.  But there was no paperwork for me to sign because it had to come from the computer, and there was no way to tell the computer that the at fault party was the insurance company.  After several irate phone calls from me and my agent, the powers that be decided the paperwork could be filled out by hand.

 I was not happy with the paint job the repair shop slopped on, so I had a custom job done by a guy who specialized in Corvettes.  My only instruction to him was to make to beautiful and one of a kind.  And he did!

Me and my Vette 40+ years and 100 pounds ago.  The picture does not do it justice.

Now, at last, what you tuned in for – How I killed my Vette.

It was a dark and stormy night.  No, it wasn’t.  It was a bright, sunny morning in the middle of rush hour.  I had just returned from a business trip for which I had used a rental car because I needed to carry a bunch of equipment that would not fit in the Vette.  Mark, one of my house mates, would drive my car to follow me to return the rental car.  First we went to gas up the rental.  The route to the rental lot took us back past our house.  We were cursing along at about 40 mph; Mark was leading a bit ahead of me.  When we neared the house, I could see my dog standing by the side of the highway where he was well trained not to be.  As I was watching my dog, I did not see what Mark saw – his dog was lying in the road injured.  Mark slammed on the breaks, and I didn’t see that either.  

My Vette was at a dead stop when I hit with a full size Mercury Montego going 40 miles an hour.  I remember only two flash thoughts.  “Oh, God, my own car.”  Quickly followed by “Oh shit, this is going to be a bad one.”  The Mercury somersaulted over the Vette, landing on its top and sliding rear end first  down the street.  It never even changed lanes, which was a good thing because there was heavy on-coming traffic.  Mark was thrown out of the Vette, uninjured.  He has no memory of how.  The seat back was  pushed to about 6 inches from the steering wheel.  We surmised that he was shot out like toothpaste.  Not wearing a seat belt saved his life.  The removable top popped off and smacked a neighbor’s mail box.  (That would become a contentious issue later.)  I ended up in the back seat of the upside-down Mercury.  Everything was squashed down, widows broken, etc.  I couldn’t get the door open.  Mark ran up and was able to pull a door open for me to get out.   Neither of us was injured at all.  Scared pretty badly, but not even bruised.  Even Mark’s dog was not badly hurt.

Both cars were totaled.  Neither ever ran again.  The police came, and a truck hauled away the remains.

But wait, there’s more!  One cop stayed behind to do the accident report.   There was no shoulder along the road for him to park his police car, so he backed into our driveway with us in his car to fill out the report.  Mark and I were a bit traumatized by the accident, but that was nothing compared with the anxiety we felt with a cop in our drive way.  Hidden from view from the street, but in plain sight from the drive way, was our pot farm – about two dozen plants.  The nearest one was about 10 feet from the cop’s car.  The officer had a hard time understanding who was driving what and what belonged to whom.  He messed up the first report which he tore up.  The second try didn’t go any better.  After he messed up the third try, he announced that he had to go back to the station, and he would do the report there.  We never heard from him again.  That fall as we smoked the pot, we laughed at how lucky we had been to draw a really dumb cop.

I am glad I had the chance to own a Corvette, but I have never wanted another one.  Some things are one time only.

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