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This ’55 Driver is What Keeps Mr. Young Young!

Fountain of Youth

Ronnie Hartman Jan 1, 2002

Step By Step

M.L. Young of Laurelville, Ohio, drives a classic Pennant Blue ’55. He’s added the last 29,000 of its 73,568 total miles, enjoying every one of them.

Mr. Young’s a bit of a classic himself. The lively 86-year-old claims to be retired, but we found him at the grocery store he owned for 45 years, now run by his son and grandson, at 6:30 p.m. when we called to clarify a few points about the car. He’s seen many, many cars come and go, and has driven a ’54, a ’67, and a ’78 Pace Car, among others, over the years; but the ’55 seems to be his favorite. After 19 years he still enjoys the ride. This elder statesman, known simply as “M.L.,” claims NCRS membership No. 16 and has logged more than 100,000 miles driving his Corvettes to the group’s events over the years. We met him at the National Corvette Museum this past Labor Day, and learned the car had been driven from Ohio to Bowling Green with nary a problem. He also owns an ’82, but made it clear that he prefers driving this classic.

Mr. Young has seen the USA in this Chevrolet with a 5,000-mile round trip to Reno, Nevada, and trips to places as far flung from his home as Florida, Virginia, and Lake Placid, New York. But this classic driver has also collected its share of honors. With his son’s help, Mr. Young restored it himself, and the car has claimed no fewer than 20 NCRS Top Flight awards. This Corvette is, of course, stock, with its 265ci, 195hp V-8, an engine that debuted in 1955. Note the gold “V” designating this on the front fender.

A mere 700 Corvettes came to life in ’55, making Mr. Young’s driver a rare classic indeed. Chevrolet started out marketing to the wrong crowd, and the Corvette was struggling for survival by 1955. More than 1,000 ’54s had gone wanting for buyers (especially significant when you remember that only 3,640 were produced in that year), and if Ford’s hot little Thunderbird hadn’t been tweaking GM’s corporate ego, the Corvette might have disappeared. As we know, this didn’t happen, but 1955 offered the fewest number of Corvettes ever, except for the 300 produced in 1953.

This is one of an estimated 45 Corvettes produced in Pennant Blue and, like most ’55s, has the Powerglide automatic transmission. It is estimated that only about 75 Corvettes had manual transmissions in ’55, and those came only on V-8s, and not until the second half of the production year.

That the Corvette survived—and went on to prevail—is a joy to us all, but few of us can cherish a ’55 the way Mr. Young can. He’s preserved this icon, and apparently it’s preserved his youthful zest for driving it. Seems like a fair trade.

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