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Classic Corvette power

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    Classic Corvette power

    Classic Corvette power

    Special Corvettes at Carlisle display this weekend features classic cars concealing modern power

    By Heather Stauffer, Sentinel Reporter, August 22, 2008
    Last updated: Friday, August 22, 2008 10:10 AM EDT



    Don Wallace of Scranton unloads a 1967 Stingray Corvette from a car carrier Thursday morning at the Carlisle Fairgrounds as he gets ready for the Corvettes at Carlisle show this weekend. Jason Malmont/The Sentinel

    They look like classic cars, but good luck trying to catch them on the highway.

    “It’s probably a 170-mph car if you want to ride that fast,” says Bob Lucas of his silver 1973 Corvette.

    Like the other Vette Rods in the Chip’s Choice display at Corvettes at Carlisle this weekend, Lucas says, his vehicle is externally a tweaked version of the standard car, but internally it’s modified and bristling with power.

    “This car had about 200 horsepower in it when it was new,” Lucas says. Today, he says, it boasts a 500-horsepower engine, along with air conditioning, cruise control and “all the stuff it didn’t have originally.”

    And, Lucas says, part of the car’s hybrid pedigree originates here. The base car had a back and a frame, he says, but the frame wasn’t very good. So he got a “beautiful” frame at one of Carlisle Events’s spring shows and used that to build the vehicle “from the ground up.”

    The entire process took about a year, he says, and more money than he first intended to spend.

    “I had to take out a second mortgage,” he concedes.

    But, Lucas says, he enjoys seeing people’s reactions to the car at shows, and he’s hoping that someone will meet his $144,000 asking price so he can start working on another car.

    “I like to do it,” says Lucas, who lives near Erie. “I’m a hot rod guy.”

    But, he says, there are limits to what he will do. A mail carrier by trade, he refuses to use the car to go on his rounds, no matter what the weather.

    Heartbeat

    Not far from Lucas’ vehicle is a red 1965 Corvette Stingray belonging to Dave and Becky Laney of Kansas.

    Dave Laney, who was beginning the six-hour process of preparing the car for showing after hauling it across many states, says the car, christened “HARTBT” after Chevrolet’s “Heartbeat of America” logo, registers at about 600 horsepower.

    “It gets four miles to the gallon,” Dave Laney says wryly, insisting that figure, unlike his playful claim that he and his wife have “been into Corvettes for 104 years,” is no exaggeration.

    “That’s what I get when I drive it,” he says. And, Dave Laney adds, that he can drive it is part of the reason he likes his Vette Rod: A standard Corvette with parts from 1965 would show discoloration of parts if run long or fast, which would lose it points in a show. His wouldn’t.

    “A lot of people ask about the paint,” Dave Laney says of the car’s rich red appearance. Therein lies a long story, he says, the gist of which is that it’s a custom color that essentially can’t be replicated.

    That leads him to a confession. Yes, he says, the color goes well with the car’s name. But the name wasn’t his first choice. Or second. Or sixth.

    “The other names I wanted were taken,” Dave Laney says. “This was my seventh choice.”

    A big deal

    Vanity plates are a big deal among the hot-rod crowd, he says, and much in demand. For instance, he says, two of the others he’s seen so far at this show are “OURS” and “HOWIFLY.”

    Laney says he got the car after a previous owner, who had never owned a high-powered vehicle, decided he wasn’t adjusting to it very well.

    “It scared him,” Dave Laney says. As for himself, he says, he did autocross and other racing in his younger days and has owned other hot rods on the order of Porsche and Ferrari.

    “I drive the car, and it’s fun,” he says. “This is just a special car.”
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