After several weeks of agonising, waiting for the weather to break somewhat predictably we managed to jump through the last few hoops needed to make the ZR-1 finally fully legal.

First of all we needed to get the vehicle safety inspected. This was largely a formality, because the car is a ’91 and being over fifteen years old is exempt from the RIV program and needs no modifications to be legal here in Canada.

Down we trooped to Canadian Tire to get the official sanction on the vehicle where we were greeted with a great deal of jokes about ‘having to keep it for the weekend’ and so on. I also wasn’t happy about the compulsory 4km test drive that they needed to do – a ‘crappy tire’ guy driving my ZR-1?

I did, rather prudently, remove the ZR-1 ‘valet key’ to restrict the power levels down to something only vaguely monstrous. That said, the staff were pretty good all told, and the ‘vette showed no real signs of abuse when I recovered her later. (Though she was covered in fingerprints on her freshly cleaned paint!)

After that, it was the turn of the Motor Transport Office. Here I had to present all of the documents from the importing etc. the safety certificate just obtained and pay them 8% Provincial Sales Tax on the purchase price.

Now, why I should have to pay them PST on a vehicle bought not only out of the province, but in fact out of the country is beyond me. I can understand how that might be the case on new vehicles, to protect Canadian dealers and discourage people from simply buying in the US and driving back with their new cars. On a sixteen year old car not even originally sold in Canada it’s nothing more than government operated robbery. They have as much moral right to 8% of my car purchase as I do to claim ownership of the Azores.

Right now though there isn’t anything I can do (not even through the democratic process as I don’t even merit a vote until I apply and receive Canadian citizenship in about a years time) so once more I grit my teeth and pay these bloodsucking leeches from the ninth circle of hell efficient and honourable public servants.

I ordered custom licence plates for my ‘vette and to my surprise they arrived for my birthday rather than in around eight weeks time as I was led to believe. I didn’t actually know whether I would get the requested plates, as the ordering system bizarrely gives you no way of checking if a particular combination is already in use. Note to the Ontario MTO – this would be a highly desirable feature for your website! If you can’t do it in house, I’ll be more than happy to do you a small custom web application – it will only cost you around 8% of $30k 😉

After some rather strained paper shuffling and mutterings (I need the value off Form 52/B – they didn’t send me one, can’t you take the value from form 52/C instead? Not sure if we can do that…), I was there. I had the registration! I had the plates! I had the stickers!

I didn’t have the necessary torx wrench to change the plates…

So a quick drive back to where I work and I was able to borrow said wrench from the hardware support guys and swap the plates over. While doing this they came in pairs to check the ‘vette out – a virtual Noah’s ark procession of ‘wows’, ‘how big are those tires?’ and general congratulatory comments that kindled a warm glow of pride.

After swapping everything over I was done. Finally 100% legal. Then I had to go back to work to try and concentrate on web development and databases etc. for another couple of hours – not an easy task when one of the most exciting, exotic (not to mention expensive!) Corvettes ever is doing its best to seduce you from the car park.

Finally, I gave up and left work a little early, unable to hold back any longer. The ride home was good, I’m getting much more comfortable with the Z now and starting to relax a little and enjoy at least a fraction of her potential.

Driving through the little village close to where I live there’s a cop car pulled over on the other side of the road, obviously giving someone a ticket. As I cruise past he watches me and I can tell he’s thinking, ‘Damn, if only I’d waited I might have caught him instead.’.

Later that evening we took the car out for our first real ‘cruise’ down to the Red Dog Grill, a nice quiet Tex-Mex place in Whitefish Falls, on the way out to Manitoulin Island. A good little run for the ‘vette and a couple of hundred kilometers or so of pure pleasure for me.

This car is awesome, at cruise or at idle it’s as smooth as polished marble, a mere hint of rumble in the exhaust note. Hit the throttle and it transforms into a snarling beast, accelerating with a turbine like scream and rapacious thrust that in scant seconds puts you well over the speed limit if you’re not careful. It also demands respect too, like the thoroughbred that it is, over eagerness being repaid by sudden snaps as the traction breaks and she bucks like an untamed Arab stallion.

I’m slightly uncomfortable still. At the moment the speedometer is out due to the 4.10 rear end gears, and, although I don’t have a problem with ‘playing’ more, I’m not really happy not knowing how much I am playing by. I have a speed correction box ordered and once that is installed I’ll be much happier.

Saturday was supposed to be ‘partially cloudy’ - so it was to much cursing of the weather people that I woke up to snow, which proceeded to last for 6 hours. Not any kind of conditions for a vette. The forecast still shows ‘partially cloudy’ so I guess they haven’t looked out of their windows yet. They’re still showing Sunday to be a really nice warm day though so that’s looking more promising.

Sadly, when Sunday arrived it was dull, cloudy and cold. Again not auspicious conditions for a ‘vette day. In the afternoon it clears up enough to at least clean the car. Although we cleaned her before, it was really just a first attempt to get the majority of the ‘shipping detritus’ off, she still needs a good clean and wax.

By the end of the day the weather cleared and we rewarded our efforts with a little spin in the countryside – the road up to Onaping is fantastic with long sweeping bends and treelined crags framing either side of the road and the river. A more perfect place for a vette is hard to imagine and she handled it with ease.

It’s a little disconcerting realising you are actually living some of your major lifes ambitions – inspiring and at the same time also a little humbling. The ZR-1 is quite simply awesome. Everything I dreamed of and more.