I just took delivery of my Corvette ZR-1 last night. What a fantastic feeling to think that it’s finally here after all these years of dreaming.
The event itself was a bit of a suprise. I contacted the shipping company at around lunch time and was told it would be next week as they didn’t have a transporter coming up this way till then. Then at about 4.30pm I got a call and the guy says “I’m delivering your Corvette, I’ll be there about 8.30!”
Ten out of ten for nice suprises, but -1000 for customer contact skills. Also to make things worse, the storage facility I am going to use till Spring closes at 7pm.
So at the appointed time I go out to meet the transporter at a nameless Husky gas station on Highway 17. It’s pitch black and -7C, I have knots in my stomach from excitement and worry and I feel like a stolen car dealer – now where did I leave my ski mask?
The first thing I see as we pull up is the distinctive wide rear of the ZR-1, I’ve thought about these cars and ‘studied’ them so much I barely have to glance at it to recognise the shape. It’s dirty, filthy in fact, covered in road grime and gunk, barely recognisable as the car I saw a few weeks ago. But it doesn’t matter, it’s mine and I’m about to drive the King of the Hill. The Beast.
After loosening the fastenings in a ceremony akin to releasing a mythical predator, it rolls off the back of the transporter and sits there with a menacing growl. It’s all black, almost invisible in the almost complete darkness, with only the odd sweeping line delineated by the catch of a distant orange streetlight. It hulks low, like some kind of stealth vehicle not meant to be seen by human eyes, and all I want to do is jump in, drive away and never stop.
My chest is tight, my breathing restricted by excitement. I clamber in and fumble for the lights, feeling for all the world like I am violating something sacred in my clumsy scrabble for unfamiliar controls and instruments.
I find the lights, and they turn on with that familiar graceful rollÂ I have seen so many times on others’ cars. Trying to reverse away from the ramps the car starts to slide sideward on the ice, even though I am barely rolling. Slipping the clutch more I gain control and reverse her ready to be unloaded of the spares that currently fill her beyond sensible capacity.
Once unloaded Hil heads off in the Aurora with the parts and I’m alone in the dark, just me, the ZR-1 and a couple of bemused truck drivers who have been watching our antics with this world class sports car. Perhaps they’re really demonic witnesses from some netherworld, come to see who has taken possession of their brethren.
The exit from the lot is slippery, way too slippery for the ZR-1 that again tries to pull and twist to one side, thank goodness I was brought up on stick shifts and clutches (even if the stick was on the other side) and again I control the slide, rumbling gently on to the highway.
The first couple of shifts are fine, then I get more adventurous and let the car have its heada little, my unfamiliarity immediately biting me as I drop the car from second to fifth causing a long low grumble of complaint. It feels like the car knows I’m not really competent to drive it yet and is trying to intimidate me into submission. I shift down to fourth to regain some semblance of control and ‘elegantly’ drop in to sixth, eliciting even more growls of derision from the engine.
Another shift and now I’m in third, the engine rumbling happily as I pick up speed and shift back in to fourth. Checking the speedo I realise my instruments are in ‘English’ units rather than metric. No problemÂ I can just convert in my head I think, except after several minutes I realise my head isn’t working too well at the moment and I’m converting the wrong way – 77mph is not a good speed in a 60kmh zone!
Somewhere on my dash I have a button that will convert things instantly for me and I check my mirrors to see what the traffic is like. Do I have a little leeway to check for the button? At this point I realise that in my excitementÂ I didn’t set any mirrors and can’t see anything behind me. I know something is there, I can catch the lights occasionally, but what it is and how close I have no clue.
Up ahead the road switches to a 90kmh zone with a passing lane, I hope if I take it steady the cars behind me will overtake and not sit on my arse admiring the midwinter antics of a lunatic in his Corvette.
The cars zip past and having some breathing space I find the right switch, now I have gauges in metric to my relief. I also manage to adjust the mirrors roughly so I can get a better idea of what’s around.
Gaining some semblance of comfort I have to dip my foot on the throttle. 130kmh comes up way too fast. My breathing is coming heavy and I can feel the onset of tears of joy stinging the corners of my eyes. In no time at all the intersection for the road where I liveÂ looms and I tiptoe around the virtual U-bend, fully aware of the tracks of ice currently lining it. The ‘vette seems to sense something too, a new home perhaps? No slips or slides this time as it pulls round straight and almost canters to the house.
I pull up by the yard, needing to move some vehicles and make room. I can see Hil waiting for our arrival, intent on checking how I’m doing. Clambering out, the grin starts and the tears sting my eyes.