1974 454 Corvette Coupe - Me & My Vette

Gary D. Shaffer Bedford, Pennsylvania 1974 454 Corvette Coupe

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While our children were growing up, we devoted much of our time and attention to their interests and activities as well as other typical family matters. When my wife, Becky, found the time she would dabble in needlepoint, she has always enjoyed reading a good book when she could prop her feet up and relax, and at one point she was very involved in collecting and making teddy bears. I have been involved in sports such as softball, tennis, and racquetball over the years, in addition to target shooting and playing the piano. We have always been supportive of each other, but our interests and hobbies have differed widely.

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At various times we discussed the idea of trying to find a hobby that we could get involved in together. We did not plan to give up our individual interests, but to enhance our free time by doing something as a couple. With our home and children's college educations paid for, and being empty nesters, we were searching for the perfect pastime. Dancing was the first activity we tried. We took square dancing and ballroom dancing lessons. However, it did not take long for us to discover that dancing was not going to be the hobby for which we were searching. We gave it a shot, but it was not providing the recreational outlet that we wanted.

In a brainstorming session, we recalled that we both have always enjoyed looking at old cars. On many occasions over the years we have gone to automobile museums, car shows, antique auto parades, and cruise-ins to look at and admire the beautiful old cars. The fantasy of owning one of those pristine old cars had crossed my mind many times over the years. Becky was very receptive to the idea and insisted that the car be something special or unique. The decision was made to pursue the notion of buying our own antique car.

Quite frankly, we did not know what car to buy or even how we should handle the details of locating, insuring, licensing, or transporting the car to our home in Bedford, Pennsylvania. We joined the Fort Bedford Region Antique Auto Club to associate with other people that had a similar interest and to get help and advice on buying a car. We heard several tales about how ads for cars on the Internet and in publications were generally overstated the condition of the car. The first ad we answered was for a Buick in "excellent" condition, but when we looked at it, we discovered that the car could not be driven. Not being mechanics, we wanted to buy a car that was truly in excellent condition. A sharp-looking car that would turn people's heads is what we had in mind. We did not want an old car just to say we had an antique. I greatly admire people who have the expertise to buy a project car and restore it themselves, but we could not go this route.We started to have fears and trepidation of getting a dressed-up rustbucket or an overpriced piece of junk. The uncertainty of whom we could turn to for reliable mechanical service once we purchased a car was an issue of concern for me. Availability of parts for certain models was also something we needed to consider. Our brains were overloading as we were becoming overwhelmed by advice. One day a friend told us not to worry about going out and finding the right car. He told us that we just needed to be patient and let the right car find us. I felt relieved by this profound statement. To ease our minds on transporting concerns, we discontinued considering cars that were beyond 50 miles from Bedford.

On a whim I called a local car dealer whom bought and sold Corvettes. Since it was a bright sunny Saturday and we didn't have anything else to do, we thought we'd have some fun looking at them. The gentleman was very enthusiastic about Corvettes, and he enjoyed telling us about the antiques as well as the newer Corvettes he had available. I surprised myself when I agreed to test drive a '70 convertible. Even though the car was nice, it was not in the excellent condition that we desired. He had several other very fine antique Corvettes available, but each one cost more than we had planned to spend. The right car had not yet found us. However, it was revealed in our discussion while driving home that we were both captivated by Corvettes. Becky in particular held the view that the Corvette was a very special automobile.

Upon further inquiry, we discovered another Corvette dealer in a neighboring county who had an excellent reputation for selling and servicing quality Corvettes. Our first visit to his showroom resulted in our discovery of a beautiful '74 Medium Blue, 454 big-block coupe that was in excellent condition and in our price range. It took us over a week to be able to test drive the car because of inclement weather, since the dealer would not let it out into the elements. It gave us insight into the high regard he has for the vehicles he sells. This '74 Corvette found us and finally became ours. We also have the confidence that the dealer sold us a quality car, that parts are readily available for it, and that he will service it as needed. In addition we were able to purchase a supplemental extended warranty on the Vette. Buying it from an automobile dealer solved our uncertainties about the necessary paperwork that needed to be handled.

We were not like people that we've read about who have always wanted a Corvette, but we took a circuitous route to America's Sports Car and let Corvette find us. In my wildest dreams, I never thought we'd own a sports car, let alone one as nice as the Vette we have. Every time we take it for a spin, we enjoy it more and more. It is the only vehicle we've owned that we have washed and waxed twice in one week. We joined the Altoona Corvette Club and feel right at home with other Corvettes lovers.

At the first show we entered, our beautiful "head turner" took the second place trophy in the '71-76 Standard Production Class. We burst with pride when we heard many great comments about our car from people looking at it in the show. It takes me back to the days when we admired other people's cars at shows. I have come to the decision that there will always be at least one Corvette in the garage at our home for the rest of our driving days. We are looking forward to club activities, socializing with other car nuts, cruise-ins, car shows, fun runs, reading about Corvettes in VETTE Magazine, and just plain driving our Corvette around town as we get engrossed in our new and exciting hobby. Thank you Corvette for finding us!

Editor's Note: This series spotlights reader experiences with their own Corvettes, described in their own words. To be considered for publication, submit 20 vertical-format 50-100 ASA slides and your own typewritten Corvette experience in 500 words or less to: Me & My Vette, Vette Magazine, 774 S. Placentia Ave., Placentia, CA 92870. Please send your submission on computer disk when possible. If we use your story, we'll pay you $75. Be sure to include your Social Security number.

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