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1982 Chevrolet T-Top Corvette - Mine, Mine, Mine

Look All You Want, But Don't Ask To Drive It

Wade Cassels Oct 1, 2004

In the summer of 1993, Valerie Hill and her beau, Kent Klause, were out and about in Clearwater, Florida, when they discovered this '82 T-top Corvette for sale to the side of the road. Much to their surprise, they realized it was one of the three Corvettes owned by her roommate. "I didn't know it was for sale until we saw it [that day]," Valerie says. "It was sitting there getting dirty, and I went to her and said 'Let me buy it.' "

Since then, Kent and Valerie married and now live in Bushnell, Florida. But the Corvette quickly became a source of frustration when repairs were needed. "We tried everyone, and they either made it worse, broke it, or gave up," Kent says. "As a last resort, we called Eckler's and they gave us the name of Chris Petris at the Corvette Clinic. He redid the interior and mechanical [systems] and since then, has done all the work on both our Corvettes."

Kent drives an '87 Corvette, but never the '82. Valerie sees to that. "If he does, the paint gets pelted," she says. "I've put so much money and sweat into the car that it's like a child to me. So nobody drives it but me."

Valerie's Corvette holds a 350ci L83 engine with 75,000 original miles. It's hooked up to an automatic transmission and the Cross-Fire features throttle-body fuel injectors.

The wheels are 15x8-inch aluminum pieces fitted with P225/70R15 Goodyear Eagle RH tires in the front and rear.

What's most eye-catching about Valerie's shark is the rich custom paintwork performed by Collisiontec in Clearwater, Florida. It's called Autumn Maple Firemist, and it teases the observer with hints of red and bronze, depending on the light. It's the third color for this Corvette.

"It was originally white," Valerie says. "Then it was painted a two-tone [scheme] with pinstripes. But, my roommate had to drive it across the Howard Franklin Bridge every day and it would be pelted with rocks and debris. So she had it painted again before she put it up for sale."

While the demands Valerie places on her Corvette have necessitated some touchup work, the exterior is the same one Collisiontec applied in 1992.

"It's a GM color," Valerie says, "but you can't just buy it from Chevy, spray it on, and have it come out like this." The exact recipe is stored in Collisiontec's computer database, and Valerie says she's tried to keep a lid on it to preserve the car's originality.

Her roommate's choice of finish was a godsend, but other decisions weren't so fortuitous for Valerie. The car sat idle for about a year, which led to some dry-rotting and other inactivity-related problems. Recently, the gas tank, leaking and rusty, had to be replaced. But for a 20-plus-year-old Florida car that's driven hard, it's just one of the prices to be paid. Valerie drives her shark to work a few times a week, in addition to cruising and showing it. But that doesn't tell the whole story. "It's hard to tell [how hard] I really drive it," she says, "because my speedometer only goes up to 85. I haven't gotten a ticket yet, but the reason I have [the car] is to drive it hard and have fun with it.

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