1974 Chevrolet Corvette - One Sweet Deal

When Dad Says "Let's Buy A Vette," How's A Young Man To Say No?

John Nelson Oct 1, 2001 0 Comment(s)
Vemp_0110_02_z 1974_chevrolet_corvette Front_side_view 1/8

Many, if not most Americans, are always on the lookout for the BBD-the Bigger Better Deal. We clip coupons, buy lottery tickets, and get a bit of a thrill when we get two for the price of one. A swingin' deal on a Corvette is nothing less than cause for celebration, and that's exactly what Bob Thompson of Redlands, California, offered his stepson, Charles "Rocky" Isbell. The result was the pair's joint purchase of this '74 Corvette. It has in fact been a sweet deal, though as often happens (and this is a good thing), things aren't turning out exactly as planned.

Bob and Rocky share a love of Corvettes, though they came about it at different times in their lives. Bob got interested about four years ago, when he made his annual trip to Northern California to play in a golf tournament with his schoolhood chum Bob Hannah. Hannah took Thompson for a ride in his '61 roadster, and that, as they say, was that. Four months later, Bob Thompson bought a '60, began attending Southern California Corvette events, and joined a club, Corvettes West.

Rocky's story, on the other hand, is a bit different. Despite the fact that he's only 16 years old, Rocky has already been hooked on Vettes for a number of years. A self-proclaimed car guy, he clearly remembers the '76 Corvette his father owned when he was only seven years old. And as is often the case, childhood exposure to a Corvette creates a lifetime of enthusiasm.

Vemp_0110_03_z 1974_chevrolet_corvette Rear_side_view 2/8

Things came to a head about two years ago. Rocky had saved over $2,500 from his paper route, and although he was still two years away from his driver's license, he was thinking ahead. As Rocky puts it, "I was looking for any car I could afford." He did a little better than that, as it turned out. Bob Thompson was thinking about the Bigger Better Deal, and it didn't take much to convince Rocky that Bob was right. "We decided," Bob recalls, "that he (Rocky) could make more money than the bank was paying him in interest if we bought a Vette and restored it." Rocky immediately agreed to go along with the plan, and so the search was on. The two planned to find a good-running car that needed cosmetic work.

As with his '60, it didn't take long for Bob to find a likely subject. It was luck that led to this discovery, however, rather than the work and research he'd put in previously. Bob and his wife Liz (Rocky's mother) were spending a day in the mountains in Lake Arrowhead, California, when Bob spotted a yellow Corvette at a gas station. There wasn't a "For Sale" sign on the car, but Bob wanted to ask some questions, so the couple stopped. The '74 four-speed coupe was in fact for sale. The paint was dinged and chipped, and the interior was a bit shabby, but the body was straight and the replacement 350 powerplant had less than 1,200 miles on it. Bob decided that this was the car, and, after driving it (he calls the engine "awesome") made the deal for $5,000.

Rocky had no idea that any of this had happened, much less that a deal had been finalized. That came one day after school, when Bob asked Rocky to come downstairs so the two could talk. Bob wasn't even able to finish his sentence. "He said 'I found...'," Rocky recalls, "and I said 'Yes!'" That, however, is where the deal changed. It was love at first sight. "The day Dad bought it, I decided to keep it," Rocky declares. Bob agreed to let Rocky buy out his share of the investment, and in one fell swoop, Rocky went from Corvette investor to Corvette owner.

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