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Recreating a Childhood Moment

Larry Baker

I was 12 years old in 1954 when a favorite neighbor came over to take me for a ride in his brand new Polo White 1954 Corvette. I dreamed about Corvettes for years after that, but in 1965 I started a 35-year automotive career with Chrysler.

After retirement in 2000, I was just enjoying cottage life, golf, and a new grandson when I went to Meadowbrook Concours in 2001. I saw the prototype 1953 Commemorative Edition Corvette on display. Advanced Automotive Technology in Rochester Hills, MI built it. It was the 1953 Corvette as a modern interpretation and built on a C5 body. I fell in love again.

Since Advanced Automotive Technology was very close to my home, I visited the plant and learned from, Steve Pasteiner, the owner. He informed me that I must provide the donor car and then he would build the Commemorative Edition (CE) in any color I wanted.

I spent several months looking for the right donor car and never found it. During this time a friend in Florida called and said he had found another car I had been looking for. I bought a 1965 Plymouth Sport Fury convertible (similar to my first car at Chrysler) and started a multi year restoration.

Fast forward to late 2005 when I ran into Steve Pasteiner at a retail model car/book/memorabilia store he owns and we talked about my visit several years earlier. I told him about the Plymouth (which was basically done) and he asked if I was still interested in a CE, as he was going to sell his personal demo which was built on a 2001 C5. What an opportunity!

I went to the plant on a Thursday and saw a beautiful white CE with a custom red interior, black top, and Z06 wheels. I went home and asked my wife if she would go look at the car with me the next day. We went over to the plant the next morning and she walked around the car taking pictures. When we had a moment alone she said, "Why don't you buy it? You have always wanted a Corvette and you were enthralled with this car when you saw it at Meadowbrook." So

I did. It has really been fun to own and drive. Being in the new car business for many years, I estimate that I have driven 400-500 new cars and trucks, but I have never driven a car that attracts more attention. I get a lot of questions. I have had people follow me to wherever I was going. It's a great driver but reminds me of that first Corvette ride in 1954.

 

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