The first time you fall in love is something you never forget-even if it's with a car. Steve Tashik of Midland Park, New Jersey, harbored a love of Corvettes for over a quarter century before fulfilling his dream of owning one. Steve tells us how it all began.
"I first drove a Corvette in 1970," he says. "It was a dark blue '68. I was working at a local gas station at the time and one of our customers would park her Corvette in our lot during the day. I borrowed her car for a quick ride around the block and fell in love with the Corvette. At the time, I was only 17 years old and could never afford the car or the insurance. The years passed and, before I knew it, I was 44 years old. Wow, I thought. I can afford a Corvette and the insurance now."
But Steve would find out that ordering a car was nothing like ordering a hamburger-you can't always have it your way.
"I went to our local Chevy dealer and figured I could just order the color and options I wanted and it would be here in a few weeks," he says. "Wrong. I ordered my '00 Corvette coupe in late May 1999 and waited and waited for my order number. Every week or two I'd call my salesman and he'd tell me he hadn't gotten the order in. In late August 1999, I stopped by the dealership to find out when I was getting my Corvette, and he told me again he was hoping to get it in by October. But, he had a Light Pewter coupe on the showroom floor to show me. I told him I wanted my Navy Blue Corvette and not any pewter-colored Corvette. At that time, I owned a black SUV and a dark green SUV. The salesman pointed out that every weekend I was washing and cleaning both SUVs, and they looked dirty in a few hours from dust and pollen. He said I should consider the Light Pewter, as it would always look clean. He sold me with that statement. We worked out a deal; I told him to get it ready and I would pick it up in the morning. He was right; the pewter always looks clean, even after a rain shower."
Steve has had numerous modifications performed on this Corvette that enhance both its performance and appearance. It began with the engine compartment. "During the first winter with the car, my wife and I took a trip to Key West, Florida," Steve says. "On the way home to New Jersey, we stopped at Design Specialties to buy some painted engine covers. After we saw their chromed engine covers, we couldn't get out of the shop before getting the complete engine covered in chrome. Then, after the September 11 terrorist attack, I had a custom underhood blanket made up with the American flag used as a background with the C5 emblem painted over the flag."
After the engine compartment was upgraded, Steve turned his attention to performance mods. "After the chrome came a new Corsa Indy exhaust system, which made the Corvette sound the way it should have after it left the factory," he says. "I then found a shop in Southern New Jersey that does custom-painted washer and coolant tanks. I had those painted the same color as the car. Next came a new set of Fikse FM/10 wheels with new Michelin run-flat tires. When I replaced the wheels, I also added Baer cross-drilled and slotted rotors with ceramic brake pads to help reduce the brake dust I was getting on the wheels. Now I hardly get any brake dust with the new pads."
The car is also well-optioned, featuring a dual-zone A/C, sport seats, a head-up display, and fog lamps. The color of the paint and the reduced brake dust make it easier for Steve to keep his Corvette looking good, but that doesn't stop him from washing it obsessively.
"I don't drive it every day, as we own three other cars and I use one of them if it's a nasty day," he says. "But I still enjoy washing, cleaning, and polishing my Corvette-usually every Sunday. I wash it in the morning, then go cruising in the afternoon. But the car has been driven in both rain and snow. I've entered it in about 10 car shows and always come home with a trophy, including a Best Engine Compartment trophy. I've been using Zaino polish on the Corvette since the first day and have over 35 coats of polish on it. Some people have told me they have never seen a pewter car with so much metallic in the paint and I think it's the Zaino polish that helps make the metallic stand out and sparkle. All in all, and with almost 14,000 miles on my Corvette, it's been a pleasure to own."
Like so many C5 owners, Steve has found a way to tastefully personalize his Corvette while enhancing its performance. It is certainly an effort worthy of a Corvette wave ... and a salute.