100 Days of Grand Sport: Part 1 – A dream becomes reality

Summer of regret: Buying, road-tripping, crashing, and selling a C6 Corvette Grand Sport… all in 100 days

Earlier this year I achieved a life goal. I bought my dream car. Enough time has passed to mentally process everything so now it’s time to tell this story. And how it all went wrong. So very, very wrong.

This is an experience I need to have.

An all-black Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport Centennial Edition is an easy trap. I kept telling myself that as I defensively explained to anyone who asked why I was selling my perfectly good WRX. After all, this is a Corvette that’s six years older than the Subaru. It’s laughably ill-suited to harsh New England winters, and it’s even less practical than the bright-blue car it’s replacing. Regardless, I convinced myself that the Corvette would improve my automotive life and in turn improve my life as a whole.

That’s not what happened. This car proved itself to be the exact opposite of what I had hoped. My life was made worse in every way relevant to the normal daily use of a car and turned into a severe detriment to my general mental state. On one rainy August afternoon the Grand Sport provided that proverbial nail in the coffin. Still, it was well before this time that I knew this wasn’t a match made in car heaven.

So settle in and learn about how I bought my dream car, learned how poorly suited it was to my lifestyle, crashed it, and eventually sold it. All in exactly the same number of days as the digits affixed to the commemorative plaques on the car itself.

This is the story of 100 Days of Grand Sport.

Winter, 2018.

My bright-blue Subaru WRX was good for occasional laughs. It wasn’t enough though, as I craved a car that would provide more excitement and feedback. Amidst endless Miata test drives and incessant attempts to justify owning one as a daily, the realities came into perspective: 100 miles of daily commuting, five-ish months of cold each year, and a life that doesn’t consist entirely of autocross and back-road cruising. In the end, the size deterred me and I just couldn’t do it. I changed my frame of mind and worked on getting more use out of my 4Runner. Somehow this led me to a path of seeking out something even more enthusiast aspirational than the Miata.

In comes the Corvette. With more space and longer legs than any MX-5 it seemed like the answer. On a sunny early spring day, I drove a base C6 Corvette. The targa roof was removed and a mental deal was sealed. I honed in on the Grand Sport. To me, it’s the pinnacle of the still analog heavy ‘Vettes available with a removable roof and existing within the maximum amount of Corvette for which my budget allowed. The Centennial Edition package took my obsession with the GS even further and made for the most special targa-equipped C6 in my eyes. Heart fixated, I was on the hunt.

A manual transmission non-convertible setup proved elusive. This was as much a waiting game as it was an effort of searching. The right car surfaced in Maryland but the day before I planned to drive down and potentially buy it the dealer sold it. I was crushed. As it turns out, somebody went in looking for a new heavy-duty pickup and managed to pull such a massive one-eighty that they bought a used Corvette. My anger was only surpassed by my confusion.

A few weeks later another Corvette popped up for sale. A dealer just outside of Chicago was selling the right car for me. Everything matched with my search goals and the car wore a clean record. Not wanting to miss out again, I put a deposit down. After much deliberation and overthinking I sold the Subaru (the act of which still leaves me sad to this day). I flew with my brother to Chicago the next night. The heightened anxiety and general unnerved feeling that this was wrong from day one of the process should have tipped me off to what would come in the future. In the moment I took it as nothing more than pre-purchase cold feet and pushed on.

Upon arrival at the dealership I was blown away. This Corvette was a stunner in person, looking better than it did in any pictures or videos. No scratches. No dings. No signs of anything except light cruising. The Grand Sport wore new brakes, new tires, and was in immaculate condition. It was basically perfect. A quick test-drive and a nearly unbearable hour of paperwork later and soon the dealer faded far from view. Heading east, my nerves were slightly appeased and smile shone on both our faces. The Corvette was a riot to drive. Background sounds barked all through the streets and highways south and west of Chicago.

If you have never done the fly-in and drive-home thing to buy a car and it’s within your means, I implore you to do so. There’s an extra sense of adventure that can only come from hitting the road in a vehicle that’s new to you. A bond with both the car and any other joined adventurers is formed.

Our drive home was long. Not cross-country long, but a solid third of that. The stretches of straight highway between Chicago and our one overnight stop were not just uneventful but provided absolutely nothing in the way of things to see. At least there wasn’t much traffic. Even in congested areas our speed stayed near the legal limit. We were provided a chance to test the Corvette’s highway prowess. Much lauded for its long-range comfort, it didn’t disappoint. Or so I thought. Perhaps the adrenaline and excitement got in the way, because not many days later I felt differently.

Crossing a third of the country with my brother was an irreplaceable experience. Somewhere in Ohio, he took the wheel and a massive smile spread across his face. As we entered the highway, he dipped deeper into the throttle. The Corvette provided a very different experience compared to his Volkswagen Alltrack. His stints weren’t as long as mine, but the way long distance driving works makes it easier for both people. You share stresses, laughs, and everything in-between. I’d do it again in a heartbeat. It gave us an experience we otherwise wouldn’t have. Alone, it would have been boring. Together, it was anything but.

Forty-eight hours and nearly 1,000 miles later we were back east where we started. Everyone in my family wanted to see the car. There were some quick drives rides, but soon after I got in the Corvette for the first time alone. Radio off and targa roof stowed, the forty-five minute solo drive home was ethereal. I didn’t even drive the car hard. I simply cruised. Yes, there was the occasional dropping of a few gears to hear the exhaust echo off the trees mixed with a smile warmed under the setting June sun. Memories of the Subaru had faded. My car life was now Corvette.

That night I picked up my fiancé from the train station and we went to get frozen yogurt. The early summer warmth in our first roofless car was as much a treat as the cold dessert. From day one, the Corvette provided experiences that the Subaru never could. The steering, chassis, and engine made me feel more connected to the driving experience than in anything else I had owned prior. A few weeks later my best friend and I drove back from a beach weekend with the roof off, basking in the glory of the stars and the magnificence that is the Corvette. It was his first time driving one too and, like my brother, his smile was clearly affixed to his face. These memories made the Corvette for me. People loved it. It is truly an American icon. It’s approachable, familiar, and attainable.

The Corvette really is the people’s sports car.

The ironic bit is that I never really liked Corvettes. Here in the Northeast they are, in my eyes at least, very much a stereotype of leisurely good-weather Sunday cruisers owned by white-haired middle-aged men who cleaned them more than they drove them. As you can guess that didn’t sit well with me, so I hated Corvettes on principle. Flash forward to seeing the C6 with its genuine performance credentials and successful racing support and and suddenly I was a believer. Sometime in 2012, I remember standing in a parking lot when a black C6 coupe started up and drove away. From that noise then and there, I proclaimed that someday I would own one. Ever since I’ve had a consistent subconscious-level planning for how I would buy one. My dream was realized earlier this year. And for a few weeks, I enjoyed every second of it. This felt like a good decision. This wicked machine would fit into my life.

Little did I know that in just a few short weeks this relationship would sour. I loved the idea of owning a Corvette. But reality has reared its often ugly head. This would not turn out to be the paradise I dreamed it to be. I started pursuing replacement options and then set out after work one day to go see one.

And that’s when things went from bad to worse very, very quickly.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of 100 Days of Grand Sport

By |2019-01-06T23:14:46+00:00January 2nd, 2019|100 Days of Grand Sport, Featured|0 Comments

About the Author:

Ross Ballot
Automotive ADHD, personified. Current owner of an NC Miata Club PRHT. Lover of all things off-roading; amateur autocrosser. Perpetually looking for the next vehicle he will regret.