Jackie's Gem

Not Your Average Garden (State) Variety Corvette

Rob Wallace, III Aug 26, 2002 0 Comment(s)

New Jersey often gets a pretty bum rap in the minds of many people, and more than a couple of cynical preconceptions about the "Garden State" appear, at least to outsiders, to be well founded. However, don't be too quick to discount Jersey's redeeming qualities. For instance, if you ever happen to be cruising around in New Jersey on a warm, sunny day, you just might be lucky enough to spot Jacquelyn Braun out exercising her mostly-original '73 coupe.

Neither Jackie nor her Orange L82 Shark are what you could consider "average." Jackie, a 20-something ("I never tell," she confides with a smile) resident of Far Hills, New Jersey, grew up around cars, and has been thoroughly involved in the automotive world all her life. By day, she manages the family's auto repair shop, Braun's Automotive in Morristown, but she's a musician by night, playing gigs as the bass player for a local band that calls itself Take Me Naked. We suppose the two jobs are necessary to support her sizable family, consisting of six cats, a dog, and a bird!

The '73 T-top Corvette is Jackie's first vintage car, and as such gets to live a pretty easy-going existence as her perfect-weather driver and weekend toy. Because she doesn't rack up a lot of miles on her Shark, only about 1,000 miles per annum, Jackie really likes to make those drives count. Since she bought the Vette in 1997, the longest excursion she and her Third-Gen have taken was a 250-mile round trip to Woodstock, New York, while lots of local pleasure cruising rounds out its usage. And, needless to say, with her family owning an automotive repair business, the Vette is always kept in tip-top running condition. Jackie's dad is always willing to help her with its maintenance and upkeep.

Her '73 is an admirable and mostly original example of the very last "metal-bumper" Corvettes to be produced. The 1973 model year saw the introduction of body color, molded urethane front bumper covers to conceal federally mandated five-mph "battering rams," and Chevrolet would have to fortify the rear bumpers the same way in 1974. But for that one last year, the sleek chrome bumpers remained on the tails of every Corvette. Other than the addition of aftermarket wheels, Jackie's Shark is completely stock, and still original in many respects. The 15-inch Appliance rims, wearing BF Goodrich T/A 225/70R15-100S rubber, effectively hide the factory four-wheel disc brakes. The Vette's paint--what GM so imaginatively named "Orange" for '73 (code 980), is beginning to show minor signs of age, but is in amazing condition for being nearly 30-years-old.

Jackie gets very respectable performance from the stock but nicely detailed 250hp L82 that resides under the hood. All the proper goodies are in place and lookin' their best on the motor, from the factory Rochester Quadrajet four-barrel, to the original AC Delco single point distributor, and OE-style (RPO N14, from 1969) side pipes. Between the combination of an L82--the baddest high-performance small-block available in these "smog"-era Vettes--and an optional M21 close-ratio four-speed, this Shark can scoot! It's fairly plush, at least by 1973 standards, with creature comforts that include power brakes and power steering, as well as factory Harrison air conditioning.

Jackie's vintage Vette still appears close to factory fresh inside and out. The standard black vinyl interior sports an unaltered dash and stock steering wheel, and even the original AM/FM radio still provides her with road music. Jackie has also added her slight personal touches within the cockpit, which include embossed Stingray carpet mats, and what classic '70s car would be complete without a mini disco mirror ball hanging from the mirror?

"Joisey" might not be everybody's idea of paradise, but to Jackie it's home. She and her awesome Orange Shark are certainly doing their part to make life a little less mundane for the people she encounters on the road. On a warm, sunny summer day, it's likely to see her Vette cruising along with the T-tops out and the wind in her hair. Jewels have always been meant to be enjoyed and shown off to the world. No matter how you look at it, Jackie's Vette is a Gem!

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