The Chevrolet Corvette has been an American icon since the first generation debuted in 1953 as "America's sports car." Sixty years and six generations of Corvette later, the Corvette owner community is one of the most active groups of car enthusiasts around. This weekend marks the 35th annual Corvette Expo in Houston at the George R. Brown Convention center. Sure, the cars are flashy, but each Corvette at the show truly has its own unique story behind it. Here are a few examples.
John Grable's 1967 Corvette Sting Ray Convertible John Grable is an architect from San Antonio and this is not his first Corvette. He says he often reminisces about the 1965 model he had in high school, and bought this blue convertible last year to check one item off his midlife-crisis bucket list. He says one of the best things about owning the car is the attention he gets around town. "I'm overcome with responses when I drive it around. There are people from older generations asking if it is a '66 or '67 model, and there are 20-year-olds asking me what kind of car it is." Grable thinks of the Corvette as an example of American design at its best. "I always tell the younger generations, 'The sky isn't falling; America is great. Look what our forefathers did.'"
Grable's at the expo in Houston to have some work done on his car by Al Knoch Interiors, an El Paso-based company that specializes in Corvette seats, upholstery and interiors. His car is getting a new convertible top and new sun visors, and he's looking to update his shock absorbers and exhaust system as well. He says he loves getting to know other Corvette enthusiasts at these shows. "They know all the tricks. It's a body of knowledge of over 60 years. Talking shop is like being a kid again."
Ronnie Chappel's 2002 Corvette Convertible Houstonian Ronnie Chappel is a member of the Houston chapter of the National Afro-American Corvette Club. With over 170 members, the NAACC has a large display at the expo, but Chappel's heavily modified 2002 Corvette stands out with its unique design scheme. He's painted his car with a special "Cranberry Pearl" color, and his customized interior and convertible top are finished in eye-popping crocodile leather. "People call it Crocodile Dundee," Chappel says. The car also pays Chappel's respects to his late mother with a special paint job under the hood in her honor. In front of the car he displays the numerous awards his car has won at other Corvette shows, like "Best Interior" and "Best Paint Color."
Frank Bobbie's 2006 Corvette Z06 Frank Bobbie comes to the expo representing the San Jacinto Corvette Club, which was founded in 1957 and, according to Bobbie, is the third-oldest Corvette club in the country. He says he has owned many Corvettes over the years and is showing his Z06 high-performance model at the show this year along with 14 other cars from other club members. "This was one of the first Z06 models in Houston," Bobbie said. This car is special to him because he picked it up in a special delivery at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
The Corvette Expo runs this Saturday and Sunday, March 9 and 10, in the George R. Brown Convention Center. Tickets are available for purchase for $15, and children under 12 get in free. The show is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday and from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday. For more information, visit corvettechevyexpo.com.
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