Many “car guys” traded cars when they were young. Friends would like each other’s cars and they swapped them, sometimes with some cash to equalize the deal. However, as they got older, such trades became rare. But Larry Potter made just such a trade back in 2004. A friend of his had a 1966 Corvette roadster that he was planning on selling to get a new one. It had a 427 CID, 390 HP big block engine with a four-speed trans. And it was loaded with extras. It had power steering, brakes and windows. It had a telescoping, teak steering wheel, a leather interior, factory sidepipes, and an AM/FM radio with a power antenna. But the icing on the cake was that it had factory air conditioning. Air conditioning was not that common in 1966 for Corvettes, especially in a performance roadster. In fact, it is almost as rare as dependable Yugo. So Larry made the trade. He let his friend choose the new Vette he wanted, including the color, and paid for it. Larry never even drove the car he bought, letting his friend drive it off the showroom floor, and he drove off in the ‘66 Vette. As trades go, it hasn’t turned out too badly. The ‘66 is now worth, conservatively, eight to 10 times what the 2004 is worth now.
Larry has had a love affair with Vettes for many years. His first one, a 1960 model, he bought in the mid-’80s. Since then, he has owned a ‘64, a ‘68, a ‘69, a ‘70, a ‘73 an ‘02 and currently owns a 2011 Grand Sport Corvette as well as his ‘66. Technically, he also briefly owned the 2004 he bought and never drove. But there is something about the mid-years (1963-1967). They heralded the coming-of-age for the Corvette. No longer was its suspension derived from a 1952 sedan, but was four-wheel independent. In 1965, Corvette made the leap from four-wheel drum brakes to four-wheel discs. With its clean, sharp edges, tapered tail and smooth lines, the styling of the mid-years is considered by many as the epitome of Corvette design. And Larry is among them.
Although he has owned other makes, including GTO’s and a Boss 302 Mustang, Larry is now heavily into Chevrolets. Besides his Vettes, he also has a ‘67 Camaro RS, a ‘69 Camaro Z-28 and a ‘72 El Camino SS. He said that his wife, Bev, is also into cars and is a “Camaro gal,” but once jokingly told him she married him for his ‘66 Corvette. At least he thinks it was a joke. Just to be safe, he bought her the 2011 Grand Sport Corvette as a surprise. She was happy.
“Every time I drive it, it is an interesting experience,” Larry said.
The most interesting experience, he said, was when he went to a car show at the Yuba County Airport in Marysville. He had his airplane there, a Turbo Mooney that he described as “Sexy. It’s low and fast, the Corvette of the sky.”
He had driven his ‘66 and Bev had driven the ‘69 Camaro there to have a photo op with the plane. Afterwards, they decided to have a drag race on the runway. When asked who won, he said, “I won.”
Then he hesitated.
“Well, at the very last, I backed off and let her win,” he added.
Bev might have a different version.
Larry and Bev have taken the ‘66 to car shows all over NorCal, to Hot August Nights and, he said, occasionally out to dinner. He has also taken it to the Saturday Cars and Coffee in front of Daily Donut in the K-Mart shopping center between 8 and 10 a.m. And if you show up there with a ‘63 fuel-injected Corvette coupe, Larry just might offer to trade you a new Corvette for it.
Ron Cherry has published two books, a mystery titled Christmas Cracker and a noirish suspense titled Foul Shot. For more about his writing, go to www.rlcherry.com.