“THE TALE OF TWO CEs”
Strange as it may seem I have now acquired #65. First, my story on acquiring #64…then, I’ll explain my story on #65.
THIS IS THE STORY OF HOW I CAME TO OWN #64. THIS STORY IS 100% TRUE AS IT IS ALMOST TOO UNBELIEVABLE TO MAKE UP.
I was not fortunate enough to witness the birth of my '53 CE like most proud owners, but I am just as proud, as I adopted mine from a family who quite simply could no longer afford to take care of her. As with most adoptions, there were moments of excitement only to be dashed by thoughts of it never happening.
My story starts back in January ('08). I had always wanted a C5, so while perusing the C5 ads on Autotrader, I stumbled across #119 for sale. WOW! I had never seen one of these before! That seems to be everyone's reaction the first time they lay eyes on these cars. Priced a little out of my range and given the fact that I already own a '75 roadster, I decided to leave it only in my dreams.
Around mid-February, and as fate would have it, while feeding my Ebay addiction, I stumbled across an auction for #64, a 2004 model. I couldn't believe it, the car of my dreams, no reserve price and a very reasonable opening bid. But wait, as a self-proclaimed Ebay guru, I knew better. The bidding frenzy always hits within the last minute of bidding. Though trying not to get my hopes up of ever owning one of these beauties, I went ahead and put it on my watch list. The days passed by and much to my surprise there were no bids. The last day of the auction was 25 February 2008 and my dream would certainly fade away at 09:57 PST when the auction was due to end. It's 08:34, and there are still no bids. Knowing the frenzy was about to begin, I thought, why not, I'll start the bidding frenzy. So, I placed my bid, which was only a few dollars above the opening bid. Now, the wait is on for the sharks to attack. It's not happening. What's the deal? This has to be one of those scams that seem to run rampant on Ebay these days. After all, this guy has zero feedback, there's only a two line description and three fairly ho-hum pictures. Well, 9:57 rolls around and know one else has bid. An email from Ebay immediately announces "Congratulations - You Won!" I can't believe it, but I remain cautiously optimistic.
I receive no contact from the seller the first day, so I decided to send an email and ask about arrangements to pay for and take delivery of my new pride and joy. Twenty-four hours later, there's no reply and now I'm having visions of a scam.
I knew nothing about these cars. My mind is telling me, no way, this can't be a real deal, so I decide to do some investigating. I called Advanced Automotive Technologies to learn a little more about these and what they cost to produce. I can't remember who answered. It may have been Steve or Steven, I had never talked with anyone at AAT prior to this call. We both agreed that it was likely some kind of scam, as '53 CE owners don't often part with these…..and the investigation continues.
I decided to run a background check on the VIN number. It checked clean and showed it to be registered to the original owner in Palmdale, CA. That seemed to fit because this very site showed it being owned by an individual in Palmdale. This might be a good time to tell you that I live in Tulsa, OK, if you hadn't already noticed that when you clicked on my link. So, this will obviously be a long distance transaction if it ever happens.
OK, this all sounds good. I took the name listed on this site as owning #64 (at that time) and ran it through switchboard.com. Alas, a contact phone number. I called the number, only to get a voicemail response. He called me back, only to get my voicemail and said, "Oh, we sold that car a few years ago. I think it's still out here in the Palmdale area, but I don't know who owns it now."
Now wait a minute, the VIN check says original owner, yet this guy says he sold it a few years ago. This has to be a scam.
It's now Tuesday, 26 February and I've still not heard anything from the Ebay seller. Using the "Contact Seller" tool in Ebay, I was able to come up with the seller's contact telephone number. I called the number. A man answered the phone in broken English and seemed to know nothing of a Corvette for sale on Ebay. He asked someone else in the room and I was given another number to call. I'm thinking, yeah right, I'm being set-up.
I called the number, and after leaving numerous messages I finally made contact with the seller's wife. My first question was to ask when they purchased the car. I was told that they were the original owner's and had purchased it new at Rally Chevrolet in Palmdale. I asked why there was another owners name on this owners' group site. They said that they knew nothing of this site, but insisted that they were the original owners. Now I'm really confused. I checked my caller ID from the guy listed on this site as the owner and noticed that he had called from a different number than the one I called from switchboard.com. So, I decided to try that number and see what more I could learn about this car. Well, it's the same individual, but it's once again only a voicemail, a different message though. This time his voicemail identifies himself followed by "Rally Chevrolet in Palmdale". Ah, now the puzzle starts to fit. When his first message to me said "We" sold that car, he was speaking of the dealership, not him personally. His name was listed on the site when Rally Chevrolet sent one of their new 2004 Corvettes to AAT for the transformation to a CE. Apparently he is a sales manager at Rally Chevrolet. Then, Rally Chevrolet sold it "as new" from the dealership.
OK, the history of the CE now seems to fit, so now we need to work out the logistical details of making me the proud new owner of #64.
As they say in those info-mercials, "But wait, there's more".
The seller now informs me of one small problem. The problem is that they had missed the last few payments and now the lender was trying to repossess the car. The seller asked if I could first, send $3,800 to their lender to halt the repossession order before I bought the car. OK, I am once again convinced that this must be a scam. I wasn't born yesterday, so I told the seller that I would not send their lender the money, but would certainly follow through with the deal as soon as they took care of this "problem".
I was able to contact the lender and with the seller's permission, was able to discuss the "problem". The lender was not the least bit interested in helping me acquire this vehicle. In fact, they promised me that they would repossess the car as soon as they could find it. The seller had previously told me that they were aware of the repossession order and had the car hidden. This is getting almost comical. I think to myself, most people would have tucked their tails and run the other direction by now. But, I want this car and I'm not out anything….yet.
Now it's Saturday morning, 01 March. I just received an email from the seller stating that they were unable to come up with the $3,800 necessary to halt the repossession and now the lender was threatening legal action. With "legal action" looming, the seller was starting to get cold feet about selling.
I knew I had to act quickly to make this happen. I work for a major U.S. airline and can fairly easily get to Los Angeles on short notice. I asked the seller if they would be willing to meet me at LAX on Monday morning. I explained to them that it would be in their best interest to sell me the car instead of letting the lender have it back. This way they could avoid the hassles of repossession and legal action and would walk away with money in their pocket. Also, it would be safe neutral ground for me, as my employer has a credit union in the LAX terminal where we could conduct the transaction. They agreed, so Sunday I was on my way to LA.
On Monday, March 3, 2008 we were to meet at the LAX Marriott at 0800. 0830 comes and goes…by 0845 the thoughts of being scammed are starting to creep in again. Oh well, if I'm stood up, I've burned a vacation day for nothing and I've learned a lesson. Finally, a phone call from the seller. They're running late due to the LA rush hour traffic. At 1030, my dream car finally appears. After a quick walk-around to satisfy myself that this was the real deal, we were off to the airport to handle the legalities and seal the deal.
One more hitch… the seller forgot to bring the registration. What else can go wrong? They had to go to the California DMV to get a copy of their registration. They left my new car in the parking garage at the LAX airport. Fearing the repo man and knowing that after this ordeal the repossession would only happen over my dead body, I went to the parking garage and stood guard for the 2-1/2 hours that it ended up taking them at the DMV. They finally returned with a copy of the registration, we Fedex the payoff amount to his lender, he gets a check for the balance from me and I am handed the keys to my own 1953-2004 Commemorative Edition Corvette.
By now, it's after 3:00 Monday afternoon. Not quite the originally-targeted 10:00am departure time from LA that I had planned if everything had gone a little smoother. Anyhow, I'm on my way from the LAX airport back to Tulsa, OK. Yes, I drove her all the way home with only one four hour rest stop in Gallup, New Mexico from 2 am to 6 am Tuesday morning. I arrived back in Tulsa at about 10:15 Tuesday night. I've attached the one photo I captured on my camera at one of my fueling stops at Kingman, AZ. I wish I had taken more, but I was anxious to get back home. I know there are dozens of more photos floating around between LAX and Tulsa, as I can't even count the number of times strangers were snapping there own photos while asking themselves "what is that?"
The original owner wasn't well versed on proper vehicle hygiene, so it took me a couple of weeks to bring her back to the movie star status that she deserves. I've already entered her in two local car shows and naturally she wins everytime….no surprise.
That's about the end of the saga for now. Sorry for the wordiness, but the story was just too unbelievable to keep to myself.
- Proud (previous) Owner of #64
AND NOW THE STORY ON #65…..I’LL TRY TO BE BRIEF……
Once again, I’m perusing Ebay one Wednesday evening last July (2010), when I find #64’s twin sister #65…..WHAT A COINCIDENCE!! This time she’s on the opposite side of the country in New Jersey. Not a problem….after a few emails and phone calls, I arranged a quick trip to Newark and Friday morning, she’s mine. Why buy another one? Well, #65 has not even been broken in. She only has 2,300 miles. Not one single rock ding or scratch and still smells new inside. I just couldn’t pass her up. Without a blemish, I just couldn’t bare to drive her all the way back to Tulsa, so I arranged for enclosed transport to bring her home. Since it takes a little while to arrange transportation, she spent a few nights in a trusted friends’ garage in Newark, under cover until her ride to Tulsa could be arranged. As you can see above, Danny and Kathy Arant have adopted #64 now, she has returned to sunny, southern California and is being very well cared for. Below are a few pictures. The first two are actually of #64….then a few of #64 and #65 together and the rest are #65.
Watch this space!