Punki Crowell’s 1971 Corvette convertible in Ontario orange may have been an impulse buy 43 years ago, but it is still with him today.
He ordered the car in 1970 after finishing a master’s degree and taking a job as a school counselor in Orion, Ill.
“I just got a new job — why not go buy a new car?” he remembers. “Which is stupid! That is what I tell kids not to do in all the years I’ve been counseling.”
Crowell says he paid a touch more than $5,000 for the Corvette new, which seemed like a huge sum at the time, and he has no idea what it is worth now.
“It doesn’t make any difference what I paid for it, and it doesn’t matter what it is worth because probably I would never sell it,” he says.
He had always liked convertibles and, in fact, this was his fourth one. He had previously driven a 1951 Ford convertible, a 1957 Ford convertible and a 1969 Corvette convertible.
Crowell keeps pictures of the earlier convertibles and every other car he has owned during the years, but it is the 1971 Corvette that has stayed with him. He says he has driven the car to escort a queen contestant in virtually every Pancake Day parade since he bought it.
The Corvette has also been a big part of his family’s life. Crowell married his wife, Margie, three years after buying it. (She had bought a new car the same year he did — for only $2,200.)
His wife drives the Corvette sometimes, and his two children have driven it on special occasions. As Crowell wryly remarks, he later learned from comments in his son’s yearbook that it may not have been treated as delicately on those occasions as he would have liked.
Now Crowell has four young grandchildren. They can’t even ride in the car because of stricter seatbelt laws, but Crowell says he hopes someday they will drive it, too.
Crowell does the mechanical work on the car himself. Other than adding side pipes, he says, he has done little to the car that shows. He says the car probably needs some body and interior work, but is afraid if he restores it too much he won’t drive it anymore.
“I’ll just continue to drive it and keep it in good shape,” he says.
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