At 51, Joe Carlozo is a Corvette newbie. He's one of the unknown numbers of suffering car people who, for one reason or another, held off buying a Corvette. "Basically, since the time I was a little kid, I always wanted a Corvette. I graduated from college in 1974 and can remember, not too many years after, being 25 years old and thinking how neat it would be to have one. I think the sticker prices were about 13 grand then." Every year, the prices went up. Lack of practicality was his excuse not to buy. Corvettes weren't "everyday" drivers, they were weekend or summer cars.
Joe now has his own CPA practice as a certified public accountant. In 2002, he had just finished tax season, the time of year he works a grueling 12 to 15 hours a day. "At that time, I was 49 years old. I went to the www.corvettte.com Web site, and they were just starting to advertise the 50th Anniversary Corvette." Joe was approaching the same birthday, his own 50th. We all know about the midlife crisis-Joe's was more like a wake-up call. The voice on the other end of the line whispered, "Time to buy your dream Corvette."
He first ordered a brand-new 50th Anniversary. Later, he gave up the '04 order and instead purchased a low-mileage '01 coupe, black with the red interior he'd always wanted. The one modification on the car at that time was a set of chrome wheels.
Bud Robertson, a member of the Lone Star Corvette Club, sold the '01 coupe to Joe. Bud lives in Texas and Joe lives in Maryland, so Joe made the deal long distance, networking with pictures and trust. Bud drove the car 1,500 miles north to deliver it to Joe, and during the process the two became good friends. Eventually, Joe and his wife Sue flew to Dallas to attend the Lone Star Corvette Club's big event at Texas Motor Speedway. Bud invited them to be members, and they joined immediately. "We didn't drive our car down. But, I'm in this Corvette with Bud, going 110 mph around the Speedway. I mean, this is like a dream." We couldn't help asking Joe what he would have been doing that weekend had he not bought a Corvette. He thought a minute and laughed, "I'd be doing tax returns."
Joe spent two years getting his '02 into the shape you see here.Initially, he wanted to get his dream Corvette looking just right. He started with a custom interior by Ken King of Vette Essentials. Then he replaced the stock hood with a Motor City carbon-fiber hood accented with red stripes. Ken King carried the Ronal wheels, and Joe decided that Gloss Black with Torch Red accents was just the right wheel-color combination for his '02. He crafted the engine bay with a black, red, and chrome theme for various covers, such as the battery box and fuel rails. Like most C5 drivers, Joe also wanted more performance, so he added a set of Corsa exhausts and a Black Wing high-performance air filter.
"I have loved cars all these years. I just was never into a car like a hobby. My wife and I went to the Detroit Auto Show last year and saw the unveiling of the sixth-generation Corvette. We never in a million years would have done something like that. Never. We eventually went to the Corvette Museum, to the assembly plant, and to the C5 Birthday Bash." Owning a Corvette has its rewards. You become part of a huge community. With the Corvette he discovered an entire hobby, full of people.