Tuesday, May 21, 2019

C4 Corvette Gathering and Revin' Up for Kids Car Show collide at the National Corvette Museum

There was so much going on last weekend at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Ky., that you are about to read a triple story. First of all, I brought my ’93 Corvette up there to be a part of the annual C4 Corvette Gathering, which drew fourth-generation Corvettes in from all over the country. While I was there, I entered the Revin’ Up for Kids Car Show, a multi-make show that raised money for foster kids. And finally, I made a tour of the National Corvette Museum itself, where I was able to see some of the most significant Corvettes ever, including a display of Corvettes that belonged to U.S. astronauts. It was almost automotive overload. I was just barely able to handle it all, and I will surely never be the same.

The C4 Gathering is hosted by the ZR-1 Net Registry and the Grand Sport Registry. This explains why most of the C4 Corvettes that attend this event are, in fact, ZR-1s. I go to a lot of car shows, and I can tell you that ZR-1s are few-and-far-between. But at this show, there were probably 20 of them on the premises. That is a significant number of these limited-production cars to see in one place. There were a few standard-issue Corvettes like mine there too, but not many. This was a three-day event for the C4 guys and gals, and they did cool stuff like drive on the NCM Motorsports Park racetrack, attend model-specific seminars, and participate in scenic road tours. Overall, it was a great day if you’re a fan of this underappreciated Corvette generation.

Between 1990 and 1995, Chevrolet topped the already formidable Corvette line with the “King of the Hill” ZR-1. In place of the standard L98, the ZR-1 featured the exotic LT5, which was designed in collaboration with Lotus and Mercury Marine. With extra-wide rear wheels and bodywork, the ZR-1 could approach the 180-mph mark, which was huge back in the day. This nice Black Rose ’92 was driven to Kentucky all the way from Pennsylvania by Mark Mirrock and Brooke Foor Maderina. These guys operate Mirrock Corvette, which specializes in C4 Corvettes and parts. I was honored that they parked next to my car at the car show. They seem like they’re having a blast living the Corvette lifestyle.

Even though it was in the Corvette Museum parking lot, the Revin’ Up for Kids Car Show featured more than just Corvettes. This Dark Green-and-White ’72 Chevrolet Cheyenne long bed was ridiculously nice. I don’t think you could have found one this nice rolling off the assembly line in 1972. I mean, it looked absolutely perfect to me. The orange paint on the Chevy 350 was smoother than the hood paint on most show cars. It had factory air conditioning, but I doubt it gets much use because clearly nobody is driving this rig. Even the bed was obsessively dazzling and pristine.

If you really squinted, you might have even found something without a bowtie on it. Here we have a –gasp!—Dodge Charger! I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a nicer one of these. This ’69 R/T was finished in the ever-popular “B5” Blue, and featured a black vinyl top, black vinyl seats, a black painted stripe, and black rubber tires with red rubber lines. Go-power came in the form of a 440-c.i. Magnum V8. I love The Dukes of Hazzard, but it’s nice to know there are a few of these left that weren’t used on the show, or used in the movie, or converted into another General Lee replica. The ’69 Charger actually lived a life before Bo and Luke.

There were some non-C4 Corvettes in the show worth noting. One was this beautiful Roman Red ’61. Chevrolet charged an extra $16.15 to paint the coves Ermine White on this when it was new. They also charged $150.65 to top the engine with a pair of four-barrel carburetors. It was also equipped with a Powerglide automatic transmission ($199.10 when new), which is a relatively unusual option to see on one of these today—especially with the dual-carbs. Having some familiarity with ’61 Corvettes in particular, I can tell you that it was restored to a better-than-new condition. This car is so pretty it almost makes your eyes ache.

Of all the cars at the show, my favorite was this ’67 Corvette roadster. First of all, nothing looks better to me than a nice ’67 Corvette. That’s about as perfect of an automotive design as there ever was to my eye. But then you start adding the extras. 435-hp, 427-c.i. big block? Check. Marina Blue paint with matching blue leather? Check. Tuxedo Black stinger, side pipes, aluminum wheels, and redline tires? Check, check, check, and check. This car has enough power it could scare you to death, but it’s so stunning you’d want to sleep in the garage. Brutal beauty—that’s the 1967 Corvette 427.

Of course, the National Corvette Museum is like Disneyland for Corvette enthusiasts. Some of the highlights included significant C4 Corvettes for the pleasure of the week’s guests, various Corvette pace cars, and the eight cars that fell into the infamous sinkhole in various states of repair or disrepair. They also had a display of Corvettes owned and driven by U.S. astronauts. The most famous is probably Alan Bean’s 1969 coupe. Each of the crew members of the historic Apollo 12 space mission received a Corvette painted like this one, and pictures of them turned up in several period magazines and publications. The LMP in the red, white, and blue dash on the fender obviously wasn’t Alan Bean’s initials. It was because he was the Lunar Module Pilot for the Apollo 12 mission.

Here’s something else that is fascinating to look at in person. The chassis on this 1953 Corvette cutaway is #003—the third Corvette ever made. Why would someone cut up such a significant car? Well, the chassis was actually “discovered” under the body of a ’55 Corvette in the 1970s, so most of the car is long gone anyway. To make it into an interesting display, the chassis was restored with this cutaway body in about 2012. Even though Chevrolet only made 300 Corvettes in 1953, you tend to see them on occasion. The museum even had two other ones on display. But you aren’t going to study them like you do this thing. I couldn’t keep my eyes off of it. It’s one of the most impressive looking things I’ve ever seen.

And speaking of impressive things, I took 605 pictures at the C4 Corvette Gathering, the Revin’ Up for Kids Car Show, and the National Corvette Museum. I even tried out a brand new camera for the first time. You can see all of these pictures by clicking this link.

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