The Corvette at the Galveston Sea Wall soon after I bought the Vette

Feet the size of a six week old baby in the womb painted on top of the Vette behind the T-Tops

I bought my Corvette in June 1985.  It was 7 years old but had low miles.  The reason for the low miles was because it was stolen in New Jersey when it was 3 months old.  In 1982 it was found in a warehouse in Houston, Texas.  There were many parts stripped from the car.  A friend bought it at a Police Auction and had it sent to a Chevrolet Dealer to be restored.  In his conversation he said he wanted all new parts installed.  When he got the call that his Vette was ready to be picked up he was surprised to find that the “new parts” was for the 1982 Corvette and not for the 1978.  He liked the look.  It had an all-new interior which was 1982 seats and mirrored T-Tops which came as an option in 1982.  The tail was the spoiler “duck tail” instead of the slope down tail of the ’78.  He took the Vette to a paint shop and had it painted Porsche Gray.  After that he had it pinstriped and since he was active in the Pro-Life movement he had little feet about the same size of a 6-week-old baby in the womb painted on top of the Vette behind the T-Tops. 

One day Larry, the Corvette owner asked me if I would be interested in buying that Corvette from him.  Long negotiating story made short; I was the proud owner of a ’78 Corvette a few days later.  It made a great daily driver and I loved spending time on the road with it.  At the time I was working out of a TV truck that we stored in a large storage unit in South Houston made for large vehicles.  I would drive my Corvette which sits low on the road to pick up the TV truck.  I would park the Vette in the storage unit for the day while I drove the TV truck to our facility where we produced TV programs.  I was the Director/Engineer and Video Editor for the program.  Climbing into the cab of the truck to drive was so different from being close to the ground in the Corvette.  Later that afternoon I would park the truck in the storage unit while I brought the Corvette out to drive home.  It was interesting driving in traffic in the big truck where I looked down on everyone and they all were trying their best to get around the slow-moving truck.  Then getting back on the same freeway in the Corvette where I was looking up at most everyone and I was now the one trying to get around the slow-moving vehicles. 

I decided to take a road trip to see my brother Johnny, his wife and newborn son in Johnson City, Tennessee.  I did not tell him I bought a Corvette, I wanted to surprise him when we got together.  I enjoyed the open road driving.  Most of the trip I had the T-Tops off and the windows down so I could feel the wind in my hair.  Once I got to the Appalachian Mountains, the driving got fun.  The Corvette drove like it was on rails.  This Corvette was an L-48 so not the big horsepower version but it did have the Gymkhana suspension.  The 60R-15 Goodyears on the four corners stuck to the road in all the turns.  Before I left on the trip I went over the car doing maintenance.  I pulled the factory spare out and it sure was ugly looking, so I replaced it with a steel slot wheel that had a new tire on it.  That steel slot was a left over from my dune buggy days and had been stored under the bench in the garage.  I figured that if by chance I had a flat on the trip the steel slot would look a lot better than the yellow-colored spare tire rim. 

I had been to Johnson City a few times, so I was somewhat familiar with the small town but not exactly sure how to get to their house.  When Johnny and I coordinated to trip he said that he would meet me in a store parking lot then I could follow him the rest of the way.  Remember that this was before cell phones so when I left Texas, I had no way to contact him unless I stopped to use a pay phone.  Johnny knew about when I was going to show up and if I was delayed for any reason, I would stop to call.  So far I was exactly on schedule as planned. 

I arrived in Johnson City and made my way to the store parking lot where I would meet Johnny.  I had not told him that I was driving a Corvette, I wanted to surprise him.  Johnny was at the parking lot, but I did not see him at first.  He had just bought a new 1985 Monte Carlo SS, and he wanted to surprise me.  I sat on one side of the parking lot looking for his 1979 blue Chevy short bed pickup truck.  Johnny was on the other side of the parking lot watching for my 1977 Monte Carlo.  After waiting a while, I noticed the white with blue trim Monte Carlo SS had been sitting there the same amount of time I had been there.  There was someone sitting in that Monte Carlo.  I drove slowly over to the Monte Carlo and saw Johnny watching the parking lot entrance.  I pulled along side and said, “Hi Johnny”.  You should have seen the grin on his face when he realized that was me in the gray Corvette. 

A few days later we drove his new Monte Carlo to Charlette, North Caroline to go to the NASCAR race.  There were a lot of 1985 Monte Carlos in the parking lot since one of the race drivers drove one in the race that looked a lot like them.  Or should I say he raced a Monte Carlo and there were a lot of new Monte Carlos in the parking lot that looked a lot like that race car.  That was the first time I have gone to a NASCAR race.  We had a lot of fun.  I think Johnny had been to all the NASCAR tracks since that was popular in that area of the country.

It was soon time for me to get back on the road home.  When I got to the flat ground and onto I-10 going west, I missed driving the mountain roads.  I had passed through Beaumont, Texas and was on the final stretch home when I saw something out of the corner of my eye.  There was another one.  Then the left rear of the car lowered, and I finally figured out that I had a flat tire.  I pulled over to the shoulder to check it out.  What I had seen was pieces of rubber being thrown as the tire disintegrated.   I got the jack out and started to work to replace the tire with the spare.  When I mounted the steel slot spare tire, it would not go all the way on.  I did not consider that the flat steel wheel did not have the inside groove to passed over the double cylinder disc brake caliper.  Had I left the original spare mounted under the Vette, I could have been back on the road in no time.  I stood behind the car and looked around.  I noticed that I had just passed a plant with a sign out front that said Goodyear.  Hey, I have Goodyear tires, maybe I can go buy a new tire at that plant!  I put the flat tire back on, limped about a quarter mile down the road on the shoulder to a crossover road.  I made it to the other side of the freeway going back towards the Goodyear plant.  I limped along until I felt that I was driving on the rim.  I did not want to break the aluminum wheel, so I stopped.  Locked up the car and walked the rest of the way to the Goodyear plant.

The first building I came to at the Goodyear plant was a security building.  I went inside and asked if there was anyway I could buy a tire.  The guy at the desk stood up.  He then noticed my Corvette on the side of the freeway not too far away.  He said “Hey, there is a Corvette on the shoulder over there.”  I said, “I know, that is my Corvette.  Can I buy a tire?”  He made a few phone calls.  On one of the calls, he said that the plant has a truck that goes out to change tires on large trucks.  He can pick up a tire your size, bring it out and mount it to your rim and put it on the ground for you. He gave me the price and I agreed that it was a good deal.


I walked back to the Corvette and not too long after I got there the Goodyear truck pulls up.  The driver was all grins when he saw the Corvette.  He said, “Wow, this should be easy compared to what I normally do!”  He got the new tire that matched the other three mounted and back on the car.  He swiped my credit card, and I was on my way home again. 

I got home about 2 hours later than I had planned but it was good to be home!  I love road trips like the one I took in the Corvette.  I learned that as much fun as the C3 Corvette is to drive, it is not very comfortable on long trips.  After a few hours on the road, you feel every bump in the road and the seats start feeling hard.   Then when you stop somewhere, you literally must climb out to stand up.

That was a good trip and I have a lot of fond memories of being on the road to visit my brother and his family.