Chevrolet Corvette owners club meets the mid-engined C8

On this gorgeous sunny Sunday morning, we’re joined by a large group of enthusiastic members of the Las Vegas Corvettes Association. Last month, I got in touch with club president Benita Klaizner and asked her if she could get together a group of owners to have a butcher’s at the C8 and tell me what they thought of it.

In the interests of science and for my own enjoyment, I asked Benita if she could manage an example of each Corvette from the formative C1 onwards. Benita is a girl who gets things done, and sure enough we have seven generations of Corvette here, plus a bright yellow C8 brought by the man from Chevrolet. “Is it okay if other members come along?” Benita had asked me. “Of course,” I’d answered. “The more the better.” And what a fantastic collection of cars we’ve ended up with here.

I know from experience that the original Corvette isn’t particularly dynamic on the road. It would have been unwise back in the day to take on a Porsche or Jaguar in one, but there’s no doubting the fact that Dan Crochet’s 1958 model is one of the most stylish sports cars ever made.

“I had a 1981 Corvette after I left college but bought this one 22 years ago,” says Dan. “I wanted a C2, but my wife loves C1s and twisted my arm. The ’58 is the only year that the car had this washboard bonnet and chrome boot straps. Critics at the time said the car was gaudy but, once I realised how special it was, I had to have one.

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“It’s powered by a 283-cubic-inch [4.6-litre] engine with twin fourbarrel carburettors and pushes out 245bhp. The car was restored in 1990, and I take it out at least once a month for a drive up into the mountains.”

Dan is interested in the C8, but it’s pretty obvious that nothing could take the place of his ’58.

Like most of the club members here, Slim Stephens has a long history of Corvette ownership. “I’ve owned this 1965 C2 Convertible for a couple of years,” he explains, “but I worked on it for 10 years when it was with its previous owner. It’s got a 327 [5.4-litre] engine with a new cam, a high-rise manifold that I’m about to swap for a Holley EFI system and a four-speed gearbox. I had a big-block ’64 coupé in the ’60s and then bought a new C3 in 1973.”

Like several of the members, Slim is concerned that the C8 won’t be as practical as his car, due to its lack of luggage space. Actually, as Chevrolet dealers will no doubt demonstrate to potential owners, you can transfer a C7’s full luggage load straight into the C8’s front and rear boots.

Originally from Canada, Benita Klaizner is a long-time Corvette owner. She’s married to Jim, who slipped the bounds of communist Czechoslovakia in 1972, and the couple own this 2013 C6 Grand Sport 60th Anniversary Convertible as well as a 2015 C7 Stingray that lives at their house in the Czech Republic. They’re currently having a 1972 C3 restored as well. “We’ve already ordered a C8,” says Benita, “and I can’t wait for it to arrive. Each Corvette that we’ve owned has been better than the last. I love the style of the new car, and I’m sure that it’s going to be a car to be reckoned with.”

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