Pasadena; 6:30 AM
One week into this Corvette exercise and I’m still not sure if I want to buy one. Could a sub 100k mile C5 Z06 for only $7,900 solve that confusion? I don’t feel too good about this. Shower. Breakfast. Road. I don’t have much time today, I promised to help my friend move, and he hasn’t given me a start time. Everything’s up in the air today.
Thankfully the drive didn’t take too long; I don’t have the slightest idea when my friend intends to pick me up. Anyway, the car. When people talk about falling down a rabbit hole they never talk about where the rabbit hole leads. Today the rabbit hole leads to an industrial sector of West LA near El Segundo and a car lot hidden in an old brick building. Unlike most car lots this place doesn’t offer test drives because all the cars they sell are salvageable insurance wrecks none of which run.
One of the salesmen casually leads me through a maze of wrecked cars. In the back, among a field of pickup trucks and sedans, a yellow gem shines through. The car that I’m here to see is a 2001 C5 Z06 in banana yellow with 79k miles and some accident damage. From afar, it looks like the bargain of the century. It’s only a set of fog lights and a big wing away from being a C5R tribute. From the driver’s side, the car looks immaculate! The C5R yellow is luminous and the rims look fresh. Better still, the interior is in pristine condition and in my favorite two-tone red and black leather. Luckily, the airbags didn’t deploy. Predictably though, I didn’t fit because the power-adjustable seat wouldn’t move without a battery. The previous owner must have been a hard-core enthusiast as the stick in this car is the stiffest shifter I have ever felt.
Now to the damage: on the passenger side the low price starts to make sense. There is an alligator’s-bite worth of missing fiberglass on the front fender and one of the headlights is missing. The inner fender also appears to be broken. Still, the reason this car is so tempting is that to my eye the frame looks straight, and the wheels seem to be aligned.
Time to go
I wish I had more time, driving away from the lot it occurs to me that as much as I am attracted to the low asking price and the otherwise very attractive qualities of the damaged Vette I still need a car that runs from the start. And just because the damage doesn’t look so bad isn’t an indication of a good investment. Add to that, the salesman told me this car doesn’t actually start (when is that ever a good sign?) and the dipstick didn’t even show any oil. Lastly, the salvage title means that the low acquisition cost is balanced out by who knows how many repairs and the prospect of costly insurance. I am really going to have to pass.
On to car number nine.