Sports Cars: Posers Need Not Apply

Frank Williams
by Frank Williams

PSST… Hey you! Yeah, you over there with the shiny new Corvette… I have something to tell you… C’mon over… Now stand close so I can whisper something in your ear. No, really… it’s a good thing. Be sure to listen carefully. I don’t want you to miss this. It’s something you really need to hear about your baby. Ready? OK, here it is… HEY BONEHEAD! THAT CORVETTE IS A CAR!! TAKE IT OUT AND DRIVE THE HELL OUT OF IT!

For those Corvette owners who don't understand the concept, I need to explain. First of all, I’m not recommending that guardians of 53’s, ’57 fuelies, ’63 Z06’s and the other 'Vettes critical to the marque's heritage should go out and thrash their historical artifacts to an inch of their lives (although I'm not against the idea). Obviously, these vehicles need to be protected and preserved for future generations. I’m talking about the non-treatment meted-out to your everday, garden-variety trailer queens and wannabees. You know, the pampered bow tie bombers you see at every club meeting, cruise night and Corvette gathering.

These seem to fall into two categories. The first are 'Vettes with paint jobs that cost more than your average Hyundai, chromed to a fare-thee-well and displayed behind ropes like a priceless object d’arte. These are nothing more than full-scale Hot Wheel toys– and just about as useful. The others are pimped-out stockers that bear silent testimony to what happens when an overabundance of cash intersects with a dearth of taste at the locus of an aftermarket parts catalogue.

In both cases, you can tell the cars hardly ever leave the garage except when the owners show them off like some priceless Faberge egg. It’s fun to watch, though. The owner hovers nearby with polishing cloth and duster at the standby, watching warily in case someone dares touch his precious baby or a speck of dust should fall on it. Some day I’m going to sneeze on one just to watch the owner pop a blood vessel in his neck.

Many Corvette owners who don’t participate in these spectacles exhibit equally strange behavior. I have no problem with someone keeping their car looking good, but these people have gone beyond obsessive and now live in the realm of the irrational. They won’t drive their car in the rain. They spend exorbitant amounts on special waxes and beauty creams. They wash it only in distilled rainwater and dry it with chamois from organically-raised sheep that were given daily massages to keep their skin supple. They panic at the prospect of getting a stone chip in their extra-cost base-coat/clear-coat paint or a scuff on the (cheap) leather upholstery.

Before you start screaming sour grapes because, obviously, I’m jealous of Corvette owners and if I had one I’d understand, know this: I own a Corvette. I wanted one ever since I went down to the Chevy dealer with my grandfather and sat in the ‘Vette while he did his business. When I got to the point where my credit rating could handle the hit, I bought one. And I drive it regularly, even in the rain. I take long trips in it. I carry my dog it. I may wash it once a month– in a drive-through car wash.

Some owners would say I don’t deserve a Corvette. I say Corvettes were meant to be driven, not pimped, primped, and posed. Laying aside whatever you think about Chevrolet or GM for a moment, you have to admit the Corvette is a great performance car. It offers a combination of acceleration, handling, braking and fuel economy you won’t find in many other cars. I don’t understand anyone who buys one then keeps it locked away in the garage, driving it maybe 100 miles a month. What in the name of Zora Arkus-Dutov do they think Corvettes are for?

I’ll tell you what they’re for. They’re for dancing down a winding road to the music of a small block V-8. They’re for winding through the gears flat-out when the road turns straight. They’re for transforming high octane petroleum distillates into the most fun you can have with your clothes on. They’re the perfect antidote for ennui, a quicker waker-upper than a cup of Starbucks’ best. They’re for entertaining the senses, for restoring your joy of driving, for having a balls-out, catch-me-if-you-can, power sliding good time.

The same criticisms can be leveled at owners of any number of cars. What of the poseurs driving Jeep Wranglers whose tires have never touched the bare earth? Many drivers wear their car like so much jewelry, trying make a “life style statement.” They want everyone to admire their cars so they can sneer “I have one and you don’t.” People like that should never be allowed to own a proper sports car. They’re incapable of understanding their car’s soul. They’re too wrapped up in themselves to notice it even has one.

Frank Williams
Frank Williams

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  • JR JR on Jul 01, 2006

    I have owned 13 Corvettes since 1974. Each has been worked on and raced by me. Back then those who owned them did their own wrenching and lived at drag strips or auto-xing on the weekend. If you passed another one you'd wave or even stop and chat, today many have their nose up their ass and think they are hotshots. The Corvette world changed when GM put jerks in charge of the Corvette for the release of the 1997 C5 Corvette. These people truely believed a Corvette was for carshows, caravans and for those who are scared of speeds over 60 MPH and do not have the strength to makes shifts with a manual transmission They wanted it so people could get in the car and not have to spread their legs since those on charge felt the car needed to be sold to women. The clutch and shifter are for wimps and so those of us who really drive them for what they are all about find the drivetrain to be far weaker then the powertrain. The riceball vendors did their part to make "sports car" mean any little 4 banger with a fartpipe labled a sportscar thus saying you have one means nothing now. Add the morons who sell so called performance mods such as $500 aircleaners and lots of shiny parts to glue in engine bay and $1,500 headers that do not do much and what had been American's sport car became a object of how much useless crap can be put on but a badge of honor in how much shiny junk your Corvette has. Listen to these people with the new fad of using a static dynoject chassis dyno with bloated performance numbers and the people who have done 50 driving schools and make it look like a race they did and what the Corvette has become with zero interest loans and the buyers who belong in a F-body which no longer GM makes drove those buyers into Corvettes and then treat the car like a stoplight racer. They are more interested in how bad the idle lope is rather then what that does to how the engine management reacts to it. Go onto Corvette forums and listen to all the BS performance hypes of claimed "mods" they spent a left lung on but then go to any dragstrip and your lucky to see 2 vettes racing. If their vette got 1 rockchip they would have to cry for a week yet they will drive at 55 MPH in 6th gear and when they are coming to a stop they put trannie in neutral and coast to a stop or leave it in 4th gear and forget they did and leave a stoplight in 4th Today with the new Z06 Corvette I have seen at least 12 of them totalled out and most had less then 2,000 mile on them because the cult took over and those buying a Corvette the last 10 years, most belong in a riceburner or buy the car solely for an investment and have no clue how to handle 500 HP You know how bad it has come when these owners do not even know how to change to motor oil and have zero clue what a sparkplug does and really believe all performance gains are from aircleaners or CATback exhaust system so in the end GM builds the car for "wazers" and not us racers :-(

  • Jhiiidoc Jhiiidoc on Jun 01, 2007

    You are right Frank...there are a large number of vette owners that pose there vettes more than drive them. I recently attended a Vette club meeting in a neighboring city, and all of the members were in awe at the fact that I had driven 50 miles to the meeting. The President said he had trouble getting members to drive across town!! I tried garaging my Vette to keep the milage down, but now, I ask "why"? I truly enjoy driving this I'm gonna drive it. Am I driving the resale value down??? Yes. But, as you said, the car was meant to be driven. Open my hood, the only obvious mods are the headers and the Blackwing Air Filter. I've had my Vette up to 170mph on a deserted NM highway (my God was that a rush), and I've driven her from NC to NM and back three times in the last 4 years. What a fantastic roadcar (and I usually drove above the speed limit...unless the radar/laser detector was beeping). And know that not all of the seemingly bling-bling Corvette crowd is not inclined to punch their babies occasionally. One "older" woman in our club in NM has a Magnuson SC, cutouts, and 3.73's, and a ton of chrome underhood parts on hers and was asked to pull off of the Phoenix Raceway Open Track day because her car was going too fast for the field, and was banned from the local strip until she put a cage in her car because she pulled a sub-12 sec 1/4. So have heart and know that not all the Vette owners have blue blood. There are a lot of us out there that know that the car was meant to be driven, even in the rain, even cross-country, even at speed. Remember that most people buy these cars as status symbols, not for the driving experience. After is a Vette!!!

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