Heaven on Wheels

Before the Beach Boys first intoned praises to a "Little Deuce Coupe" and that little old lady from Pasadena revved up the Jan and Dean hit, there was the 'Vette, a new breed of sports car that embodied the carefree spirit of the road with more zest than any of its competitors. Since the first Corvettes rolled off the assembly line in the early '50s, they've been synonymous with a hair-blowing, fun-in-the-sun, 90-mile-an-hour good time. And if avid members of the Looking Glass Corvette Organization, one of the three largest Corvette clubs west of the Mississippi, are any indication, the sheer radiance of America's classic dream on wheels--with the top down--still endures.

To prove the point, Looking Glass members and other regional Corvette devotees will gather Saturday on Main Street in Central City as part of a two-weekend vintage-car show hosted by the gambling town. Spectators are promised one heck of a visual ride: Up to 100 spit-polished beauties will be on parade, vying for trophies and encouraging fantasies.

Jim Evans, a spokesman for Looking Glass, says he's owned one Corvette or another for the last 28 years. But he admits it's a personality thing.

"Once you own one, you'll either never have another one or you'll always have one," says Evans, who obviously falls into the latter category. Over the years, he's had eight Corvettes. His first was a black '65 convertible with a red interior; he now drives another '65 model and a '92. The contemporary model, he says, is far more user-friendly than the bare-bones classic ("They're loaded with power and have all the bells and whistles you could ever want in a car"), but there's no question which one is the more evocative drive. The beautiful, bullet-shaped '65 is loaded with evocative.

"You don't sit in a Corvette; you wear it," Evans enthuses. "There's nothing like it." And Looking Glass's membership--more than 200 families and 231 cars--seems to wear it well. "The car is nothing more than a vehicle for getting together with other folks," Evans says, adding that the median age of a Corvette buff ranges from the late forties to early fifties. It's also a family affair: Many club kids grow up and buy their own Corvettes. And once smitten, a Corvette owner is never swayed by another pretty face. "You never compare a Corvette to a Miata," Evans stresses.

During the summer, says Evans, there are at least three different Corvette events every weekend. Some disciples like racing, he points out, while the perfectionists, "Q-tippers" who will even climb under the chassis to clean the grime with a toothbrush, prefer competing in car shows.

Others just like to go on road trips, which reveal the Zen-like nature of the Corvette experience. "When you string out two miles' worth of Corvettes on the interstate with all their tops down in the sun," says Evans, "it's just a kick."

--Froyd

Corvette Show, Saturday, September 12, Main Street, Central City, free, 303-582-5322.

 
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