The Corvette: An American classic renewed
And the Stingray even had a song: "Dead Man's Curve," by Jan and Dean.
But then came the '70s, and along with them unleaded fuel, the oil crisis, and the national 55 mile an hour speed limit.
By the '80s, sales were stuck in low gear -- and the Corvette seemed to symbolize more mid-life crisis than icon.
"It was a slot car on the race track, and on the road it was a farm implement!" laughed Automobile Magazine's Jennings. "You know, it had terrible suspension, you literally drove it, hit a pothole and banged your head on the head liner!"
Still, the Corvette survived, even through GM's bankruptcy.
"It would be such a shame for that car to be missing in the America's culture," said Chevy dealer Rick Hendrick. "I mean, I just think it's part of the DNA of Chevrolet."
Hendrick should know. He also owns Hendrick Motor Sports, one of the winningest teams in NASCAR.
Would he race anything else, besides a Chevy? "Never have," he laughed."
His passion for Chevy, has turned into, well, almost hoarding. He owns one of the largest private Corvette collections in the world -- nearly 150 in all.
His favorite was always the Stingray -- and he's more than willing to share the love.
What was it about Corvette for him? "The Corvette was just the ultimate car," Hendrick said. "I mean, it was you had the styling, the power, all the girls liked 'em."
In fact, it was in a Stingray where he wooed his future wife, Linda. "She rode with me in that first Corvette on our first date and it broke down," he laughed. "She wasn't very impressed."
Most of what is in his collection is priceless. Last night Hendrick purchased the rights to get the very first new Stingray off the line.
"I think this car will probably be one of the most sought after cars that we've seen in a long time," Hendrick said.
Will the new Stingray live up to its pop culture royalty?
That's between you, the wheel, and the open road....
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