Question: I'm the original owner of a '79 Corvette with 20,000 miles. The car is all stock except for some minor paint repair. I want to take it to Bloomington Gold this year, so I'm trying to find out if it would be eligible for the Survivor or Benchmark class. What do you think?
Via the Internet
Answer: I think your Vette may be a good candidate for the Survivor class. I spoke with David Burroughs, founder of Bloomington Gold, and this is what he had to say:
The Survivor and Benchmark events both feature unrestored, original cars. Survivor level means the car must remain less than 50 percent restored, and the finishes (paint, plating, and so on) must not have deteriorated more than 50 percent from brand-new. Benchmark level means that not only must the car be unrestored, but also the finishes must not have deteriorated more than 5 percent from new. That means that Benchmark cars have been preserved in "nearly new" condition and not "touched up" or restored. Cars can qualify for Benchmark by first being Survivor Certified and then the next day being Gold Certified. Obviously, this becomes exponentially more difficult to achieve as the cars become older and older.
To have a Corvette Survivor Certified, a panel of Certified Survivor Judges will inspect and certify that the car meets these standards:
1. It must be at least 20 years old.
2. It must complete a 20-plus-mile road test within one hour.
3. It must remain more than 50 percent unrestored, unrefinished, and unaltered from the way it left the factory in at least three of the following four areas:a. Exterior (Paint, Trim, Glass)b. Interior/Trunkc. Underhoodd. Chassis (Suspension, Frame, Wheels)
4. It must remain with more than 50 percent of the original finishes (paint, fabrics, plating) accurate enough to be used as a color reference for restoration of a car just like it. Note: If more than 50 percent of the color is obscured, refinished, or missing, it can't be considered accurate.
Unfortunately, it's impossible to judge your car based solely on what you've told me. Although 20,000 miles sounds good, we've seen cars with 3,000 miles whose factory finishes have been "improved" to be cosmetically better than factory. This is good for winning trophies at car shows but bad for Survivor.
Although you mentioned "minor" paint repair, you didn't say anything about deterioration. So again, it would be hard for me to say whether or not you'd meet the standards. However, once you understand our standards and see some of the examples on our website (www.SurvivorCollectorCar.com), you should gain a clearer perspective on how close to Survivor or Benchmark your car might be.
Question: Is it true the Corvette plant is closing?
Via the Internet
Answer: The Bowling Green Assembly Plant did shut down again for six weeks starting in March. Hourly workers were temporarily laid off during that span. Why? Corvette sales are down 50 percent from last year. If current trends continue for the rest of the '09 model year, there will likely be fewer than 25,000 units built. (For reference, there were 40,561 Vettes built in 2007.) Sounds like it's time to support our favorite hobby by going out and buying a new Vette.