It was the summer of 2013 while Penny and I were in Sequim, WA visiting her family. Shopping in a funky old fashion grocery store, I got a call from my lawyer’s office saying the case had been settled, and you can pick up your check tomorrow. WOW, that is not going to happen tomorrow, but as soon as we get back to Bakersfield, I’m on my way to his office.
Long story short, I had a medical procedure that failed. My Dr. suggested we sue the manufacture of the device as many cases had already been settled because of this failed device. We were successful.
Having had many fun cars in my life, mostly Sunbeams and particularly our Sunbeam Tiger that we bought new in 1965, I had thoughts of a new fun car running through my mind in wild anticipation as what I could get with my new found settlement. The new Jaguars XKF’s were just coming out. The new mid engine Porsches were on the market and all the car magazines’ talking heads just couldn’t say enough about them. Just couldn’t get excited enough to take the foreign car plunge again.
In August, I went to Monterey for the Reunion at Laguna Seca Raceway. It just
happened to be the 60th anniversary of the Corvette and introduction of the C7. Chevrolet had brought a ton of engineer and marketing folks to the track and Ron Fellows had at least four C7’s on the track during breaks between races and lunch break. They were flat hauling running lap after lap at more than race speeds. I currently had my C4 coupe with the Doug Nash 4 + 3 four-speed at the track. We got to do a couple laps with at least 300 other Corvettes but nothing like the C7’s. Oh, I was getting hooked.
Spent the next few months wondering what I should do with this new money that was burning a hole in my checking account. Guess what, a friend called me and asked if my C4 was for sale. Of course it was. We did a deal, I got a bunch of 100 dollar bills and had that situation solved. We went to the Los Angeles Auto show about the end of the year. Chevrolet had eight new C7’s in the Corvette coral and they were letting folks crawl over them. The one that really stood out was a Stingray Coupe in Lime Rock green with light brown leather interior. Oh my god!
Came home with all the literature they would let me have. Went out to Three- Way Chevrolet here in Bakersfield and couldn’t find a sales person who knew much about their new C7 rides. Another couple months pass and then I got serious about the new ar. Found Mike Thomas, the sales manager and with his guidance I ordered our new car and chose the Corvette Museum Package for an additional $990. Of course it was Lime Rock Metallic green with black 19 and 20 inch wheels. A few weeks later I got a call from a sales associate at the dealership saying the car was going to be assembled in a few days. Did I have any changes I wanted to make in my original order. No, no changes. Talked to my wife after the call and we decided to go with the paddle shift 6 speed auto transmission in lieu of the 7 speed manual. This was a very good decision. Two days later, I get a call from the Museum asking if I wanted to pick up my car on
June 9, 2014? Yep, that works for me. On Saturday morning June 7th we are on a plane to Bowling Green, KY. Really not that easy as we had to fly to Nashville, rent a car for a one way trip to Bowling Green during the Country Music awards weekend. It worked out OK with help from the Museum folks. They did a great job.
Sunday, the 8th of June we cruse up to the Museum just to get a handle on location as we have a 7:30 am appointment to get started on the delivery process.
Well, guess what? Right there front row with our names on a large poster surrounded by a velvet rope was our new Corvette. It was in concour show condition with I’ll bet with at least 10 museum attendees surrounding the car at all times. It was fun to stand back and ask folks what they thought about the car not knowing we were the owners. Made us feel we made all the right decisions regarding color and accessories.
Monday morning at precise 7:30 am we were ready to begin our new adventure. Our guide, who was really a great guy send us to the office to prove we were the right folks and that I had a drivers license, insurance and that the car had been paid for. Passed that test. Next, we were loaded in a Chevy van and taken to the Assembly Plant a few blocks away. Introductions were made with the plant personal and the tour begins. We were given the deluxe tour getting to see everything but the paint shop and the engine assembly room. All 2014 Corvettes came with the same engine the LT1 6.2L V8. When the Z06 was introduced in 2015, the engine assembly room was opened for the tour as all those engines were built at the plant. The tour takes over 3 hours. We got to talk to the folks putting the car together, adding all the fluids and the person who gets to drive it car off the line first. It was lady, probably in her late 50’s, got to push the start button first and drive over the rumple strips as fast as she could go in 50 feet. That sets the suspension. She then turns the car over the guy that puts it in the rain storm for 5 minutes, checking for leaks. The car then goes into outside storage covered in plastic for 10 days before it heads to a dealer or the Museum for delivery. This wait is to insure no manufacturing problems or potential recall items show up. All Corvettes are sold before they are assembled.
The Bowling Green plant produces a 170 cars a day, 850 a week with annual capacity of 41,000 cars. This is maximum production. This is twice that of Porsche 911.
Upon returning to the museum, we were given a personal tour of the sink hole that gobbled up a bunch of priceless Corvettes. All the cars were out of the hole sitting around the perimeter. A couple of the cars were unrecognizable as to what they were. Only the tires and wheels survived.
Now it was our turn. After an extensive review of all the cars’ many functions, it was driven by our guide to the front of the Museum. Yes, I was in the passenger seat and many of the employees clapping as we drove past. A very cool feeling. Some pictures were taken and we were given the key fob and a full tank of gasoline and sent on our way.
It now was 4:00 pm and we were tired. Back to our motel. Where do you park a car that you have had only 15 minutes in a town were almost anything could happen. Right in front of your room with the curtains wide open.
Early the next morning we were on our way home. Headed to I-80 west going through Saint Louis, MO. We had decided to stay there that night and do a little site seeing. Well, that didn’t happen. It was pouring down rain. They told us if there was a hail storm, get under an overpass and wait it out. Fortunately, that didn’t happen. Our first night out was at a Flying J truck stop with a Motel 6. Again, we were beat up and ready for a little rest. Checking in, there was a character standing in front of the motel smoking an unfiltered Pall Mall. He put the cig out, and walked over to our new Corvette which really didn’t look that new anymore. He strolled around the car and walk back to me. He said “I have had 25 Corvettes and this is the best of all”. We chatted for awhile and I’m sure he was correct about the number of Corvettes he had owned.
The rest of the trip home was uneventful. Cruised through Salt Lake, out to Ely and Tonopah, NV for a couple high speed runs before going to Bishop, CA for our final night out. Of course, coming home we had to do State Route 178 coming down the Kern River canyon. Yes, that Z51 package does let you do corners just as well as bursts’ of speed.
Today, we have driven the Lime Rock Green Corvette with black wheels a little over 12,000 miles. Every mile is a pleasure in America’s only true sports car.
Not too many COB members know the history of how our club came to be. Associated Corvettes formed in November1967 with 10 charter member cars. In one year it grew to 25 cars. My husband, Freddie, was President & I was Secretary for the first 3 years.
We joined Western States Corvette Council (WSCC) and Incorporated in 1968 and I also became WSCC Secretary from 1969 to 1971. We hosted a huge All Corvette Event in 1969 for the Council here in Bakersfield.
We learned from the Council how to put on autocrosses at Famoso Raceway and Concours auto shows as well as show & shines. This gave us revenue so we could publish a newsletter, have poker runs and rallies, volleyball parties, camping trips, and parties with Cor-vettes of Fresno. We traveled to meet other WSCC member clubs for events and still found time to sponsor fund raisers for BARC, here, locally.
We had a great bunch of people and they were all instrumental in our success. I believe it was 1973 when Associated Corvettes dis-banded and our members became Corvettes of Bakersfield. As can happen in any organization, there were some that valued the travel, partying with other clubs, newsletters, fundraising and then there were others that thought the money should be for parties at Hart Park so Associated Corvettes abandoned their corporation and morphed into Corvettes of Bakersfield with the members that wanted more local activities and less stress. I have to thank Greg Cline and Greg Marling for their initial efforts to see that the club continued on and with the help of many others that came afterward over the years a solid basis was established again. Today we have the best and biggest club I could ever have imagined and I’m so proud to have been a part of this grand journey with my Corvette Family.
Corvettes of Bakersfield was
established in November by a group of Corvette enthusiasts. The first ATM,
Strikes by US teaching staff throughout country for pay increases, The first
Super Bowl played between Green Bay Packers and the Kansas City Chiefs, Six Day
War Arab Forces attack Israel beginning the Yom Kippur War,
the first Boeing 737 takes its maiden flight, the Concorde is seen for the first time in public, Apollo
1 destroyed in a fire on the launch pad, Pulsars are discovered, Texas
Instruments releases the first pocket calculator.
Cost of Living
Year end Close Dow Jones Industrial
Average cost of new house $14,250.00
Average income per year $7,300.00
Average monthly rent $125.00
Gallon of Gas 33¢
Average cost of a new car $2,750.00
Cost of a base model Corvette
Movie ticket $1.25
The Federal Minimum Wage is increased to $1.40
The continued presence
of American troops increased further and a total of 475,000 were serving in
Vietnam and the peace rallies were multiplying as the number of protesters
against the war increased. The Boxer Muhammad Ali was stripped of his boxing
world championship for refusing to be inducted into the US Army. In the Middle
East Israel also went to war with Syria, Egypt and Jordan in the six day war
and when it was over Israel controlled and occupied a lot more territory than
before the war. Once again in the summer cities throughout America exploded in
rioting and looting the worst being in where 7000 national Guard were bought in
to restore law and order on the streets. In England a new type of model became
a fashion sensation by the name of Twiggy and mini skirts continued to get
shorter and even more popular with a short lived fashion being paper clothing.
Also during this year new Discotheques and singles bars appeared across cities
around the world and the Beatles continued to reign supreme with the release of
“Sgt. Peppers Lonely Heart Club Band” album, and this year was also
coined the summer of love when young teenagers got friendly and smoked pot and
grooved to the music of “The Grateful Dead. Jefferson Airplane and The
Byrds”. The movie industry moved with the times and produced movies that
would appeal to this younger audience including “The Graduate” Bonnie
and Clyde” and “Cool Hand Luke” . TV shows included “The
Fugitive” and “The Monkees” and color television sets become
popular as the price comes down and more programs are made in color.
The 1967 Corvette
The 1967 Corvette Sting
Ray was the last Corvette of the second generation, and five years of
refinements made it the best of the line. Although it was meant to be a
redesign year, its intended successor the C3 was
found to have some undesirable aerodynamic traits. Duntov demanded more time in
the wind tunnel to devise fixes before it went into production.
Changes were again
modest: Five smaller front fender vents replaced the three larger ones, and
flat-finish rockers sans ribbing conferred a lower, less chunky appearance. New
was a single backup light, mounted above the license plate. The previous
models’ wheel covers gave way to slotted six-inch Rally wheels with chrome
beauty rings and lug nuts concealed behind chrome caps. Interior alterations
were modest and included revised upholstery, and the handbrake moved from
beneath the dash to between the seats. The convertible’s optional hardtop was
offered with a black vinyl top, which was a fad among all cars at the time. The 427
was available with a 1282 ft³/min (605 L/s) Holley triple two-barrel
carburetor arrangement, which the factory called Tri-Power. The ultimate Corvette engine for 1967 was
coded L88, even wilder than the L89, and was as close to a pure racing engine
as Chevy had ever offered in regular production. Besides the lightweight heads
and bigger ports, it came with an even hotter camshaft, stratospheric 12.5:1
compression, an aluminum radiator, small-diameter flywheel, and a single huge
Holley four-barrel carburetor. Although the factory advertised L88 rating was
430 BHP at 4600 rpm, the true rating was said to be about 560 BHP at
6400 rpm. The very high compression ratio required 103-octane racing fuel,
which was available only at select service stations. Clearly this was not an
engine for the casual motorist. When the L88 was ordered, Chevy made several
individual options mandatory, including Positraction, transistorized ignition, heavy-duty
suspension, and power brakes, as well as RPO C48, which deleted the normal
radio and heater to cut down on weight and discourage the car’s use on the
street. As costly as it was powerful – at an additional $1,500 over the base
$4,240.75 price – the L88 engine and required options were sold to a mere 20
buyers that year. With potential buyers anticipating the car’s overdue
redesign, sales for the Sting Ray’s final year totaled 22,940, down over 5,000
units from 1966 results. Meanwhile, Chevrolet readied its third-generation
Corvette for the 1968 model year.
A Chat With One of Corvettes of Bakersfield’s Charter Members
By: Gregory Brott
As my wife Carol and I sat down in Marilyn’s beautiful West Bakersfield home we were about to find out the wonderful and rich tapestry of what is now Corvettes of Bakersfield.
A most gracious Marilyn explained Corvettes of Bakersfield was established in November 1967 as Associated Corvettes, a Bakersfield Corvette club and at the time a voting member of The Western States Corvette Council and Marilyn along with her husband, Fredie were one of the ten original Charter Members. Fredie was also the very first President of Associated Corvettes and held the position for three years while Marilyn was busy as Secretary and publishing the newsletter.
The original Sponsors of our fledgling club was Richland Chevrolet and Barnett’s Goodyear with Three-Way Chevrolet replacing Richard in the 1980’s and is still Corvettes of Bakersfield’s premier sponsor.
During these early years the Club met at Pizzaville on Oak Street for their monthly Corvette Camaraderie fix and were very involved with autocross and racing.
Fredie and Marilyn’s first Corvette was a beautiful 1965 Milano Maroon coupe, which Marilyn still has and has plans for new paint sometime in the future
The C2 was followed with the purchase of a 1956 Artic Blue C1 with white coves which was sold to make way for a 1965 Marina Blue Coupe which they only kept for a few months while their original 1965 was being restored. They also purchased a 1989 Arctic White Coupe, which they ultimately traded in on their last new Corvette, a 2004 Machine Silver Coupe.
In 1969 Associated Corvettes brought to Bakersfield and hosted one of the largest Corvette Conventions in the Western States. The Corvette Council’s Pre-convention, with Corvettes coming from as far away as Mississippi, put Bakersfield on the Corvette map.
With a name change in the early 1970’s the club became known as Corvettes of Bakersfield, a better fitting name to promote and enhance the image of Kern County and the City of Bakersfield to the rest of the Corvette Clubs, their families and our Kern County Sponsors and Charities. This was also the time when the paper newsletter was produced in magazine format and the name changed to Corvette Cross-Roads.
During the 80’s and 90’s both Fredie and Marilyn were involved with all things Corvette with Marilyn being the Event Director for quite some time. This was also the time in which Corvettes of Bakersfield was thinking BIG….that is with our First Corvettes of Bakersfield Gambler’s Classic in 1992.
In the early 2000’s both Fredie and Marilyn continued to enjoy time with the Club and purchased a beautiful 2004 Artic White C4 Corvette.
Marilyn retired in 2006 as the office manager for Renfro Cunningham Architects and Fredie retired in 1996 after 36 years as a Sub Station Electrician for PG&E. They both enjoyed their retirement and time spent with Corvettes of Bakersfield on events, runs and gets togethers until Fredie’s untimely passing in 2008.
Upon their retirement they traded in the C4 and bought a stunning new 2004 Machine Silver C5 which Marilyn still has today and drives often and to Corvettes of Bakersfield events.
The past ten years for Marilyn involved family and Corvettes. She would always bring her grandkids along on club events at Kern County Raceway, the Glenville Run just to name a few. Her grandkids also helped stuff goodie bags for Laughlin and Streets of Bakersfield, Kern County Gun Club Shoot and many more. On the personal side, Marilyn continued, that she traveled to London twice, Scotland, Wales, Hawaii and China with family. Marilyn and her daughter also researched family history where they discovered a distant Grandfather of hers fought in the Revolutionary War against England and they are now registered and officially Daughters of the American Revolution, descended from the More family in England.
Because of Marilyn and the original Charter Members today Corvettes of Bakersfield, Inc. has a membership of over 75 member households, over 140 individual members and has contributed to local non-profit charities within the Bakersfield and Kern County, over $250.000.00!
When Carol and I left that Sunday afternoon we had a deep admiration for her 50 years of dedication and service to Corvettes of Bakersfield. We all owe Marilyn and the other Charter Members a sincere and heartfelt thank you for their dedication and foresight to make what we know today as the finest Corvette Club in existence a reality!