This is the fifth installment of My C-5 Corvette Story
What kind of driving experiences can be expected with such a car? Well, they were many and they were varied. In 1997 the car was a true star on the street. There were an unbelievable amount of thumbs up from other motorists, there were the ever persistent drivers who chased you down and followed along in your blind spot to get a better look at the car, there was the unbelievable thrill of driving at high speed through the Angles National Forest on winding mountain roads with a caravan of other Corvettes, but maybe one of the most unusual stories tells how much attention an all new Corvette gets from the California Highway Patrolman.
The new C-5 was my daily driver. One day I was in a small Southern California town on business. The new Corvette was still a very rare site especially in small towns. The Corvette had only a few thousand miles on it but I was very comfortable with the car and the stares from other motorists. I was driving through a shopping center parking lot when a California Highway Patrolman waved me over. In a parking lot! Five miles per hours, tops! I was as innocent as if I had been driving a KIA. I was sure “he” just wanted a better look like everyone else. I was wrong; “he” didn’t want a closer look.
“He” said I was driving with my parking lights on and that was against the law in California. “He” instructed me that the law requires that I must have my headlights on anytime I have my parking lights. I, in my cocky see I am driving a NEW CORVETTE attitude, tried to explain that these were not “parking lights” they are “running lights” and all new 1997 Corvettes have them, you can’t turn them off. Well, that was not very smart of me. The CHP told me to park the car; “he” wanted to talk with me! I parked my new red toy, turned off the engine and got out to await the arrival of the Gestapo. “He” drove his car up to mine; got out and said show me the lights.
I got in my car with an attitude and started the motor, gave him a dirty look and expected a frown from him. All I got was a quizzical look; the lights didn’t come on! Now I had driven this car for 5,000 miles over a three-month period, the running lights have never not come on. You could give me a thousand dollars to simply turn them off and I wouldn’t know how. And now, with an upset CHIP in my face, my car is laughing at me and will not light up! I jumped out of the car to confirm that they were not on. I said oh, it must need to be in gear, it didn’t make a difference!
At this point I knew my approach was all wrong, I became very humble, meek and stupid. I said, well the dealer told me they were always on, but I never checked, etc. The CHIP got in the Corvette and said here is the problem, the light switch is on the turn signal lever and you must simply be turning the parking light switch on when you turn a corner. OH, YES, OFFICER, that must be it, stupid, stupid me! I didn’t have an explanation so agreeing with the badge seemed like the right thing to do. I didn’t want to make him any madder than I already had.
“He” then got out of my car and said you have tinted windows. That is illegal in California. Who did this? I replied the dealer did sir. “Sir” said, did you ask him to? I replied, yes. The CHIP then said what about a front license plate, you don’t have one of those either, that is also illegal in California. I said I had one it just wasn’t on the car. At this point I figured I might get to visit the local holding cell for out-of-town drivers with an attitude! The next question from the CHIP was obvious; let me see your driver’s license. At least I had one of those and it hadn’t expired. I also had the required insurance certificate. With that he wrote my name and driver’s license number on a plain white sheet of paper, not a ticket book! He told me to remove the window tint, get a license plate on the front and don’t drive with the parking lights on. “He” let me go.
However, that is not the end of the story.