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Bossa Nova

Ron McCormick

Sure, I was looking at them by the time I was nine. But I think I really started noticing Corvettes when I was 11 years old. One I vividly remember was wearing shimmering red, and her curves drove me crazy! My mouth dropped and my heart started beating harder than normal. I didn’t know what was happening at the time but, thinking back to that day, I do now. It was love. True love. The verb, not the noun: love. I’m not ashamed to admit my love affair - with the Corvette. Yes, Chevy’s masterpiece; the GM division’s magnum opus since 1953.

A 1968 Red Coupe that was my first love. GM redesigned the Corvette that year, and while I can’t find an admission to it, I swear they used the female form to design the new body style! My first car turned out to be a 1968 Pontiac Firebird. It was the closest I could get to owning a Corvette, due to my young age and low income. I loved that car. I spent my paychecks making it mean, from the 350ci V8 balanced and blueprinted, to an Edelbrock manifold, Holley double-pump carb and headers, custom dual exhaust with turbo mufflers, and even mag wheels and BFG T/A radial tires with big, wide suckers in the back.

As I grew up and became more practical, I traded the Firebird for a Ford Courier mini pickup. After graduating from high school, my love for Corvettes, and cars in general, gave way to love for another female species – of the human variety. That love affair lasted through two kids, a divorce, and remarriage. Don’t get me wrong, I’d still stare at any Corvette that crossed my path, but my heart belonged elsewhere.

My new wife - God bless her - not only gave the ok to buy a Corvette, she actually encouraged me to get one! Shortly after we married in Sept. 2005, we came up with a goal – a 'five year plan' as we called it – of making my dream a reality. In September 2009, the year of my 50th birthday, I would fulfill my 40-year dream. We would order the 2009 Corvette coupe, have it delivered to the National Corvette Museum, pick it up there and drive it home. A funny thing happened on the way to our five-year plan. It accelerated and shortened to a three-year, nine-month plan! So… I started thinkin’ and lookin’ and thinkin’ some more. Would I? Could I? Hmm.

Toward the end of May of that year, I ran across an article on the 2008 Indy 500 Pace Car, a sweet looking Corvette convertible, black with graphics, commemorating the 30th anniversary of the first Corvette selected to pace the Indy 500. The 1978 Silver Anniversary Limited Edition Pace Car brought a classic two-tone body scheme with a black upper and a silver lower, set off by sport side mirrors, red pin striping and aluminum wheels, accented with 25th Anniversary emblems. This has been one of my favorite limited edition Corvettes produced.

I read that former Indy (and Formula One) great Emerson Fittipaldi would drive the Corvette Pace Car in the 92nd Indianapolis 500 on May 25th, 2008. As a youngster, I had followed the Brazilian racer’s Formula One career, when he drove the black and gold John Player Special Lotus, and then later when he switched to Indy cars. He would be signing and numbering the 500 Pace Car replicas and my interest piqued. I knew which Corvette I wanted. I asked a local Michigan dealer if they had one of the Pace Cars for sale. They did - a Convertible - numbered 150 of the 500. After getting close to sealing a deal for the car, the deal fell apart. So I had a brilliant idea: Why not look for a pace car in California. Duh!

Finally I found what I thought was a Pace Car listed with a dealer in the city of Orange, CA. I called about it and the salesman said they didn’t have one - and would probably not be getting one. Just to be sure, he said he would ask his manager and then call me back. Less than ten minutes later he called back and told me they were, in fact, getting one in. It was a coupe – which didn’t bother me – and would arrive around the first week in June. After making a few calls - with positive results - I called the salesman to confirm. I think he was more excited than me!

So the wait began. I knew only that it would arrive after June 7th. Sheesh! The salesman, Nick, kept me abreast of any information he obtained concerning the delivery date. Finally, he called me and said it had left the assembly plant - in Bowling Green, KY - on June 9th. I came up with a cool way to get down to the dealer in Orange (about 150 miles away from home). My wife and I would ride the local commuter train down to the dealership. That way, we could both drive home in the new car. At around 5pm on Friday, June 13th (yes, Friday the 13th), Nick called with exciting news. The Corvette had arrived! They were still unloading it from the hauler when he called.

Saturday morning arrived with all the excitement and expectation of the impending events. We drove to the train depot and waited for the 9:45am train. After 2 uneventful train rides, including an hour stop at Union Station in Los Angeles, and we arrived at the depot in Orange right on schedule – 1:30 pm.

Twenty minutes later we pulled into the dealership with Nick, and I immediately started looking for my Corvette. Nick said the car was in the back and that he’d go get it and bring it up front. Five minutes later, I heard it. The sound was unmistakable. The low rumble was music to my ears. Then I saw it. Glistening black paint, so shiny it was blinding when it reflected the sun into my eyes. It looked so much better in person than in the pictures! The green stripes on the hood popped. The graphics on the sides were crisp. The closer it got, the better it looked.

She looked great! Nick parked the car near the showroom, got out and said, “Well, what do you think? Beautiful, isn’t she?”

I was already opening the passenger door. I realized at that instant that the only thing better than the smell of a new car is the smell of a new Corvette! As I looked down I noticed the chrome door sill with black CORVETTE lettering. Nice touch, guys. Next was the nine inch touch screen in the center of the dash with the Corvette logo in full color. Another nice touch.

Everything else my senses took in was a blur. I slid into the leather driver’s seat, waited for my wife to get into the passenger seat then, gently pushing the brake pedal, I pushed the start button. Once again, my heart started pounding. After letting it idle while gaining my bearings in the cockpit, I pulled the shifter back and stopped it on ‘D.’ The Corvette lunged forward an inch or two and acted as if it wanted to motor out of the parking lot. I didn’t linger. We started moving forward and what a feeling!

We pulled out of the dealership and onto the main road. I wanted to stomp on the accelerator pedal, but knew I shouldn’t dare. We decided to find a place to eat. After a nice dinner, we hopped back in the Corvette to head home. I entered the freeway at a nice clip and leveled at about 65mph. About 5 miles later, traffic slowed to a crawl, and stayed that way for what seemed like forever. I didn’t like it, and the car didn’t seem to like it either.

I had this feeling that it wanted to bolt. When the traffic finally picked up, so did I and man, did she purr. The rest of the trip was pretty much uneventful, other than a couple of rapid accelerations along the way. When I sped up enough for all of the vacuum-actuated outlet valves to open, the sound was incredible! The horsepower boost was unmistakable, pinning us back in our seats. Keeping an eye on the heads-up display, the digital odometer reached 100mph in no time. Yeah bay-bee!

When we got home, I pulled the Corvette into the garage. Before going into the house I stood staring at the car, still letting it all soak in. My wife asked if I was going to name her. I hadn’t given it any thought. But I decided to do just that. I came up with BOSSA NOVA. A play on the two words, “NOVA,” for my now-deceased grandmother’s first name. She was a wonderful woman who was very special to me. She was born in Kentucky, as was my Corvette. “BOSSA” comes from Bossa Nova: An early 1960s style of Brazilian music that acquired a large following. Emerson Fittipaldi, a big fan of Bossa Nova, is the highly successful Brazilian automobile racing driver who signed and numbered my Corvette.

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