The Veterans Corvette
Undoubtedly one of the most symbolic sports American of all time the Corvette has always testing the boundaries, be it in motorsport, styling and development which made it a car in a class of its own or that of a very few but I may be a little bias as a child growing up in the 70’s I often made a visit on the weekends to the local car yard because it was on the weekends the owner Paul would bring along his pride and joy a 1972 Corvette Stingray. I was so taken by the car that I saved up the money to buy the Corvette T Shirt, I still remember the catch phrase “Wrap your arse in fibre glass’’. So when I stumbled on this little jewel at the Camden Car Show in Sydney I had to grab the Little Red Corvette for our mag.
The car’s owners Peter and Sue were more than happy to feature the Vet and we were pleased to do so and it wasn’t long before we found out the Corvette wasn’t the only Vet in the family Peter is a Vietnam Vet and it was there he got the inspiration to buy a classic muscle car. Back in Vietnam in 1968-69 Peter was present when an American soldier went into a PX store (Kmart/ Walmart store in Vietnam) went up to the counter and ordered a brand spanking new 1969 canary yellow Mustang, and remembers thinking to himself one day I’m going to do the same and I’m going to buy one when he got back from his tour of duty. Unfortunately for Peter he wouldn’t have the money until he retired and so as soon as he did he kept that promise to himself and went on the hunt for a ’68 canary yellow Mustang. This was going to be a big ask and over time he gave up his search, however, whilst the hunt was on he stumbled onto the Corvette at Shannons (an Australian insurance and classic car auction). It was to take about a month to convince Sue to go down and check it out and when she did she fell for the car, literally she fell into the sports cars driver seat and instantly in love with the little red 1964 Corvette.
The car was all original with the exception of the right hand drive conversion and the only other modification is the differential. Peter changed the diff from the original 4.01 to a higher ratio 3.08 to save on fuel consumption and also because the car is mostly used on highways surrounding his rural home ‘’It was great around the city because you could leave it in 4th gear and sit on about 60 kph, but once you got it on the freeway she was revving at about 3500 rpm and only getting 100 km out of a full tank of fuel. Now it cruises at 200rpm on the freeway and though it’s a little slower off the mark it is beautiful on the freeway!’’ he says. The Little Red Corvette still runs the standard and original matching numbers Chevrolet small block 327 with a Muncie 4speed gear box. Even today 40 years later it is still possible to go through the Corvette records and find the day it was built, where it was built and even the name of the person who built the motor. Power windows came stock in the ’64 and are in still great working order and the only thing that has given up over time is the analogue dash mounted clock ‘’that’s a job for another day but it will be fixed!’’ Peter says’.
When Peter brought the car the tyres on it were roadworthy and it was 6 months after he brought it the former owner contacted him to see if he would be interested in the four tyres he had especially imported for the car from America and which Peter replied ‘’Yeah I will give you a $100 each for them’’ thus the tyres you see on those classic rims.
Peter describes the car as a beautiful car to drive but is ready to admit ‘’the handling is like a typical 1964 model car, you have to steer it! It’s an old car and you have to really drive the car. It’s not like the modern day car that goes around corners when you point it in that direction.
It was a bit hairy at first because no which way you turned the wheels you’d put your foot down and the car headed the direction it was facing and not the direction the wheels facing. Being fibreglass and with its power to weight ratio being what it is the car has unbelievable performance, you feel every bump and it doesn’t handle like a modern car but that’s the beauty of it.’’
The original exhaust still has a great note (sound) and the roar of the small bloke gives the little Red Vet the street cred of a muscle car and adds to the attraction and it’s not unusual for the couple to be quizzed about the car. Pete recounts on the time he was driving down the highway travelling at his usual 110-120 kph when he noticed a Rolls Royce hurdling up behind them, the Rolls Royce pulled up alongside just in his blind that place where you know it’s there but you just can’t see it he looked across and there was an 400 year old lady clapping her hands and smiling and then just took off. Then there was also the time a woman came up behind the Vet and was about 3 feet off their tale and she was perching herself over the steering wheel and dashboard, then she came along side and just sat there until she worked up the courage to wind down her window and ask what kind of car it was and replied its beautiful and took off. Another memorable time was when on a Sunday drive the couple decided to pull up at a popular look out, there was about 80 motorbikes also parked at the time and people looking the bikes over. Peter and Sue made their way through the carpark and parked a couple of bays down from the bikes to take in the view and it was then that a bloke walked over to Peter and called him a bastard, Peter asked the bloke what his problem was, he replied ‘’they were looking at my beautiful bike then you drive in and they left me.’’
Peter’s beautiful wife and the woman who had the final say on buying the little Red Corvette is infatuated with the car now and says she fell in love with it instantly and it is now part of the family and their little baby. The car actually belongs to Sue but she can’t drive a manual (well done Pete!). Even the couples granddaughter demands that when she is driven to school by Peter it must be in the Red Car and not the Toyota but I think Peter has over stepped the mark when he ‘’apparently’’ makes Sue run alongside the car when it rains with an umbrella.
A classy car needed a classy chick with classic looks and the first one to come to mind was Marilyn Monroe or Lawless Angel Alia Charmer and seeing one of our girls was indisposed it was a one horse race and the beautiful Alia got the gig!