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GOING THE DISTANCE
PHOTO BY GENGHIS
MY VETTE "MARY:" I'd never trade her.
ACTUAL FACEBOOK EXCHANGE:
Scott "Genghis" Wong April 16 AT 10:11 AM
"Is this the Mitch K. who sold me my Corvette (I still have her) in 1999?"
Mitch K. April 16 at 11:08 AM
"Down by the Williamsburg Bridge? Hey Scott, yes it is, hope all is well by you. If you have any current photos shoot some over. That was the best Vette I've had to this day. Want to trade for a '98, grey with black leather, mint, with only 39,000 miles? I hope your still enjoying that 72, she is definitely a beauty."
Facebook is an amazing social networking tool, useful for shrinking the world and bringing forgotten acquaintances together, again. It's indeed a small world after all. Facebook is responsible for reconnecting Mitch and me, two Motorvatin' Mavens who love Vettes and what they mean in our lives, just as bikers revere their bikes, and the joy that our motorcycles bring to our existences. There is the Biker Subculture, and the Car Subculture, and to my way of thinking there is sympatico and symbiosis between the two cultures. There is overlap, and parallel feelings of commitment that are inherent to both. The love of vehicles, and the sense that they live, are what make car and bike loyalists unique in this world of faceless and disposable two and four wheelers.
Bad news for Mitch:
Yer not gettin' Mary back, pal.
Mitch and I shared our Vette Mary, although at different times. We sat in the same seat, filled the same cockpit, and probably felt the same emotions as we aimed Mary down the highway blacktop at 80 per, with the mellifluous exhaust resonance from her 350 cubic inch Chevy small block filling our ears, inflating our souls and indeed, blowing our minds. Mitch's and my shared experience with Mary means something to me, as if we were both at different periods, married to the same woman. I wish I could find the biker who sold me my Harley 26 years ago. That, would feel like a family reunion for sure. Bikers and Corvette drivers tend to have intensely personal relationships with our vehicles.
You all know how personalized my relationships with my vehicles are, which is why they have names. Mary, my Stingray and Mabel, my loyal Harley 74, have souls. Their mechanical hearts beat strong and true as loyal servants as long as I take care of 'em. The mission is to keep them like new.
They are living, breathing (at least through their intake manifolds and exhaust pipes) entities, to be talked to, coddled, cherished and understood. They have their idiosyncratic personalities, just as people do. They each have a familial history that reaches back generations, just like we people do.
A shared history with Mitch and my Vette, equates to a type of kinship between us as Corvette loyalists. I thought of this yesterday, as I piloted Mary down Fifth Avenue in Manhattan at a cool 50 miles per hour, her Turbo-Hydramatic 400 transmission connecting Mary's torque and horsepower to the pavement. Mitch and I both had the privilege of operating this righetous transmission, foot to floor, engine whining, tranny spinning, spinning, spinning the driveshaft, resulting in horsepower at the back wheels, baby. As The World Turns, so did and does my and Mitch's Corvette World Turn, leaving patches of BF Goodrich rubber behind us.
I love this automatic, man. In spite of the insistence by many misinformed and mistaken elitists
in the car subculture that, "Only a manual transmission will do...," I've got news for these stick shift advocates:
Your tranny is not as good.
Check out this excerpt from the June 2011 edition of Corvette Magazine about serious drag racing Corvettes that run the quarter-mile in the 8 second range:
"Racer Mark Massengale, for example, has run as quick as 8.15 seconds at 173 mph in his '07 Z06....His car exemplifies the upgrades required for safe, dependable performance. From the engine rearward, almost every component has been replaced....A GM Turbo 400 transmission replaces the original six-speed manual....Simply put, the quickest cars---even Z06s and ZR1s---don't have manual transmissions....Although some modifications can be made to strengthen them...manuals just don't cut it with single-digit ETs. GM's....Turbo 400 transmissions are built to handle exceptional torque levels, while offering greater consistency...."
Photo by Genghis
AN AUTOMATIC SUCCESS: The famous Chevy Chaparral 2E at Bridgehampton, New York, 1965.
I've loved this transmission ever since it proved it's mettle against manual transmission-equipped racecars. The TH 400 did so in Jim Hall's famous Chevy Chaparral racecar in the mid sixties, when it laid waste to its competition. This revolutionary use of an automatic transmission under extreme race conditions and the resulting race victories of the Chaparral, made me a lifelong fan of the Turbo-Hydramatic 400. Race drivers using manual trannies didn't stand a chance against the Turbo 400 equipped Chaparral.
Tests done during the incomparable reign of the Chevy Chaparral in sports car prototype racing demonstrated that experienced race car drivers stick shifting manual four-speed transmissions, could not match the supreme shifting speed of the Turbo-Hydramatic 400. The shifting proficiency of the three-speed Turbo 400 was so great, it outmatched any theoretical advantage of a four-speed manual transmission with its extra gear, on a road course.
At the time when I became a fan of the Turbo 400, I had my '64 Vette equipped with the Muncie 4-speed tranny, but I coveted the much stronger Turbo 400 automatic. Now, that I have this terrific transmission in Mary, my dream is realized. The dominance of this legendary transmission in ultra-high horsepower drag racecars to this very day, cements its legacy in automotive performance history. The Turbo-Hydramatic 400 rules, man.
Yes, Mitch and I share a history with this great old Vette with the Turbo 400. I will never sell Mary, just as I would never sell my righteous '71 Harley Shovelhead Stroker, Mabel. These girls are with me to stay. I'm glad to see that Mitch has stayed loyal to the Corvette brand. Brand loyalty is a test of one's character in the biker and car cultures. Brand loyalty shows a depth of commitment to the culture, that cannot be measured in mere dollar values. My Vette is worth everything, and nothing in this sense: She is priceless. Later.