Spellbound: Discovering The Power Of The Corvette

Discovering the mystical powers of her late brother’s Corvette.

Illustration by Chris Gash.

Every time I see a Corvette on the Parkway, I grow wistful. Obviously, I’m not your typical male suffering a midlife crisis. I’m a 50-something female who has come to appreciate the spell a Corvette can cast.

My journey to understanding the Corvette mystique began more than a year ago, when my beloved older brother and best friend, Jerry, passed away from cancer. Jerry adored cars. In his 59 years he owned many, including several BMWs and a Lancia. But Corvettes were his favorite. He loved that they were American made.

I vividly recall Jerry’s first ’Vette, a bright-red, dangerously sexy ’86 convertible. It was followed by a ’92 white convertible. The last ’Vette, a ’99 metallic-red coupe, would be the most transformative car that he—and eventually I—ever drove.

As executor of his estate, I was entrusted with the coupe, along with his everyday car, a black Pontiac G6—one he purchased as an homage to our dad, whose own 1959 Pontiac whisked our family of five to the Jersey Shore every summer.

Hard as I tried, I could never fully comprehend Jerry’s unbridled enthusiasm for his ’Vette. I always got the attraction of his Bimmers, but I never really grasped the Corvette’s allure.

It was only when I had to sell his beloved automobile that I finally got what it meant to be a ’Vette owner.
Selling the Corvette proved more difficult than I had anticipated. First, I had to acclimate myself to the power and sheer magnitude of the car. It envelops you in a way that’s very intimidating. Until then, I had driven it only once—an experience that left me seriously rattled. I felt as if the car was controlling me, rather than me controlling the car. Even as a passenger, I rarely accompanied Jerry to his weekly car shows in Freehold, Jackson and Somerville, or to Ocean City’s boardwalk for the annual Corvette show.

Now I had to face driving the ’Vette again. What disturbed me most was the very thing Jerry and other ’Vette aficionados treasured—the  deafening, earth-shaking roar of its 345-horsepower V-8 engine.
As I struggled to navigate the Corvette, I also faced the harsh reality that, with winter setting in, I would have to wait until spring to find a buyer.

But a funny thing happened along the way—my feelings began to change. Fear was replaced by exhilaration. I grew accustomed to the power. Now, I couldn’t wait to turn on the ignition and hear the reassuring growl of the exhaust. Each trip behind the wheel was like falling in love for the first time, a giddy rush of spine-tingling, heart-pounding emotions. 

Although my affair with the ’Vette began later in life, it remains with me to this day. And like most love affairs, the memories are bittersweet.

Today, I’m comforted knowing how much pure joy the Corvette gave Jerry. Just weeks before his death, he drove it to Belmar. Did he sense this would be his final road trip?  I’m not sure. What I do know is what he told me throughout his illness—that only driving his ’Vette made him feel truly free from cancer.

As I signed over the car to its new owner, I asked to drive it one more time. Speeding down Route 35 toward the Shore, I realized the ’Vette had cast its indelible spell on me as well.

Jerry, I know exactly how you felt that last time. I too felt like I didn’t have a care in the world.

Susan F. Gordon is a freelance writer in Little Silver. She hopes to someday drive a Corvette again.
 

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