Katrina and I with my new C5 1997 Corvette at the factory!
This is the third of four parts of our experience with the purchase of one of the first C5 Corvettes in 1997. If you have a story on the purchase of a new C8 Corvette we would love to hear it and publish it on this web site. Send your story to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are not comfortable writing an article simply send some information and I will get back to you for more details and will write the article for your approval prior to publishing it here on this site.
I arrived at the Nashville airport on June 26th 1997. Katrina, my fiancee at the time, had flown out a week earlier for a dog show. She was to pick me up at the airport; she was late. As I waited I saw a lady with a briefcase bearing a large C-5 Corvette logo. Of course, I was dying to know if she was with the factory, she was. She said she was there to deliver a bunch of automotive magazine journalists to the factory to test the 1998 Corvette convertibles. She had 8 brand new, yet to be seen by the public, 1998 Corvette convertibles waiting for tests, and I didn’t even know the fate of my 1997 and these guys were going to play with 98 Convertibles! I was jealous.
It was very late that night when Katrina picked me up but our adventure to find my Corvette had begun. The next morning we headed for Bowling Green to visit the Corvette factory and Corvette Museum. I still had no idea about the status of my own personal dream car.
Before we went to the factory we decided to see if we could find a Corvette storage lot for the new 1997 C5s. As we drove around the factory roads that weren’t blocked off I found one that gave us a view of a huge lot full of new Corvettes. I readied my camera’s telephoto lens but before I was able to click off any photos we were quickly warned that we were in an area we were not allowed in and must leave immediately. We did and headed back to the factory visitor’s entrance.
We arrived at the factory too late for the first tour. At that time reservations were not required. Fortunately, there was another in the afternoon. We didn’t want to miss anything so we began to snoop around a little and see what we could find. We soon caught the eye of an important looking gentleman with a big camera who asked if we were lost. I said: “Well, kind of.”
I explained that we planned on taking the tour later in the afternoon but I had a new Vette on order and I wanted to know if it had been built yet, or if it was on the assembly line; or would it be postponed and be a 1998?
Our new found factory friend was important, he took us out into the heart of the facilities (behind signs that said NO ADMITTANCE) to the plant supervisor’s station. I offered up the order numbers for both my car and that of my business partner. The supervisor and several others then took off in search of information on the cars. While we waited I asked our backstage tour guide what he did for GM. He said he did public relations work for Corvette and in his spare time, he was the Mayor for Bowling Green!
We had hit it big! If anyone could help us he certainly should be able to. The anticipation was cluttering up my mind. I couldn’t think of anything else but when will I see my new Corvette, a C5 Corvette!
As Katrina and I continued to wait we could see new ’97 and ’98 Corvettes coming off the assembly line! We were in an area that the tour did not go! The new Vettes would leave this location and then be quality control tested and repaired if they failed certain tests. Suddenly, one of the gentlemen returned and we had information! My car and my business partner’s cars were both built on Wednesday, June 25th, two days prior. Remember the three-day shutdown? If the plant had not been down my car would have been built on the 20th, my birthday! I didn’t care, it was built!
Next, the three of us went to the car storage lot, there were hundreds of new C-5’s. This is the lot I tried to take photos of earlier but was ran off from. The Mayor took our pictures with both cars, incredible! Here we were, in a lot having our picture taken next to my new C5 Corvette when only an hour earlier we ran off by security guards!