One day while young Conti was admiring the Corvette the owner said, “Hey, kid. Do you want to wash my car?” Conti quickly hopped off his bicycle and was soon happily washing the Corvette, running his hands over the Corvette’s curves. That was the first of many times that he would wash the sleek car.
“Thinking back,” Conti now says, “I don’t know what the owner was thinking, letting a 10-year-old boy wash his car.” Conti remembers telling the owner that when he grew up he was going to buy a Corvette.
Sometimes life gets in the way and plans — like buying a Corvette — are delayed. In 2000, Conti was refueling his modern car at a Plymouth, Mass., gasoline station when he noticed a dozen or more Corvettes across the street. He had just stumbled across Corvette Mike’s, an auto broker whose stock in trade is primarily Corvettes. Conti left his name and telephone number and said he was looking for an older, all-original Corvette with low mileage.
During the next four years, Conti chased down several Corvette leads, but none met his requirements. Right after Independence Day in 2004, Conti received a telephone call from the Corvette broker in Plymouth. “I have the car you want,” he told Conti. The Corvette was a 1982 model; a coupe because there were no roadsters produced that year.
On July 16, 2004 Conti went to Plymouth to see the car. As he approached the dealership he saw his dream parked outside on white-letter Goodyear tires.
Conti got out of his car and circled the Corvette, one of 18,648 such models built that 15th generation year. Beneath the removable T-top panels are the red leather interior and the matching carpet. A T-top carrier came with the Corvette, but Conti says he can’t imagine anyone actually using the carrier to transport the expensive T-tops.
An awestruck Conti said, “I’ll take it.”
“Don’t you want to drive it,” he was asked. A quick drive around the block was all Conti needed to confirm his decision. “I was just in heaven,” Conti recalls.
As he settled into the driver’s seat he noticed that the car had been driven only 12,000 miles. Then he drove his Corvette home to Hyannis on Cape Cod, keeping an eye on the government-mandated 85 mph speedometer. It was 40 years after he had washed his neighbors Corvette. Now he could wash his own.
Records show that this Corvette was first sold at the Goodwins Chevrolet dealership in Brunswick, Maine. When new, the car had a window sticker base price of $18,290.07. The price was boosted when accessories were added. All the extras added $2,206 to the base price and with dealer prep the total cost was $20,966.07.
Chevrolet offered only one engine for the 1982 Corvette, a 350-cubic-inch V-8 that develops 200 horsepower. The 3,232-pound Corvette moves along nicely on its 98-inch wheelbase. Power from the engine is transferred to the rear wheels via a four-speed automatic transmission with torque converter lockup on all forward gears except first.
Only one engine might have been available but Corvette loaded up the car with power equipment including power-operated: brakes, antenna, steering, windows, door locks, and driver’s seat.
“I’m going to treat it kindly and not abuse it,” Conti says. “I’m going to enjoy it the way it is.”
In the time he has owned the car, the happy owner has driven his Corvette 10,000 miles. Conti says, “It creaks and rattles, but it doesn’t leak.” — Vern Parker, Motor Matters
Copyright, Motor Matters, 2010