What is it that makes a Corvette enthusiast? Many can point to a particular instance that fired their passion for America's Sports Car. It may have been a relative's solid-axle, or a ride in a neighbor's mid-year. But then again, it doesn't always take a singular instance. Automobiles are part of the cultural milieu, their significance much greater than that of a mere means of transportation. And there can be no doubt that Corvettes stand out as bright spots in that cultural landscape.
April Zavela of San Bernardino, California, is a prime example of the effects of this influence. As children, April and her younger brother would count the number of Corvettes they saw on their way to the beach. She also had a pretty good collection of Hot Wheels(tm) replicas. It was enough-the words "Vette" and "Stingray" had a special magic for young April, and she was determined to one day have the real thing.
Despite a cadre of naysayers who tried to tell her that she'd never get a Corvette, April eventually found herself in the showroom at Rotolo Chevrolet in Fontana, California, checking out an immaculate '82 Collector Edition. It was love at first sight, for several reasons. The car had belonged to Mrs. Rotolo, who reluctantly gave it up in favor of a new 40th Anniversary version. That the car had been meticulously cared for was obvious to April; to her, it looked like "it hadn't been touched." But that evaluation on the '82's physical condition was only part of the instant attraction. In fact, April remembers her response as "Oh my!" It was a visceral, deep-seated passion that had been seeded years before, on those trips to the beach and by blister-packed miniatures that were eagerly torn open and played with for hours. There was one other thing-the Shark body style, the one that flashed into April's mind when her thoughts turned to things Corvette.
It's a natural connection for millions. After all, the Stingray/Shark body style carried the Corvette banner for 15 years, and chances are that anyone who came of age between 1968 and 1982 has no problem picturing that profile. Nineteen-eighty-two was the last hurrah for the longest running Corvette body style, and for a mechanical platform that got its start in the '63 Sting Ray. All '82s came with the 200hp "cross fire" computer-controlled, fuel-injected powerplant and the new 700-R4 automatic overdrive transmission. Although 25,407 Corvettes were built for 1982, the 6,759 Collector Edition versions were created specifically to commemorate this ending. The car's most distinguishing features are in plain view. The Code 59 Silver Beige paint was unique to this model, as were the hood and body decals and accent pinstriping. Alloy wheels that recalled '67's optional bolt-ons were part of the package, and special emblems further identified these Corvettes as something special.
The interior also got special treatment, with a silver-beige leather interior and door trim, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and horn button (complete with a matching Collector Edition emblem) and upgraded carpet.
Also unique to this model, and a first on any Corvette, was the lifting-glass "hatchback" feature. It made for a fitting monument to the end of an era.
For April Zavela, it all just served to seal the deal. She knew what she was looking at, and that it was in great shape-she also knew that she had to have it. Her seriousness was evident enough to gain her the rarely granted privilege of a test drive. If April hadn't been hooked already, that drive did the trick. She recalls it vividly: "I felt like I was in the Batmobile, with that long nose, and it was just, go, baby, go!" It did take a few rounds of negotiation, but a deal was struck, and a dream fulfilled.