Monumental Weekend ... and it's not Christmas yet!



This weekend took away some of the punchlines of a post I have already written for the February blog. You may recall that at that time of year, when business is a little slow and the opportunities to drive somewhere are limited, I write about the makeup of our garage with an often times whimsical look at what we might upgrade to at some point in the year. What made this upcoming post rather unique was how I spent time praising our virtuous decision not to buy a car during all of 2020. How, with travel bans being enforced for most of the year, 2020 turned out to be a time to pause, to look around and to take stock of what might transpire as we move deeper into year 2021.

Well, we almost made it! But who knew that living next door to the owner of the biggest Chevrolet dealership in Ft Collins would make the perfect pitch for us to end our new car buying hold-out. With less than a month to go, we handed over the credit card and there it was! Confirmation of a transaction that would eventually lead to the delivery of a new car by Chevrolet! Steve Dellenbach of Dellenbach Cadillac, Dellenbach Chevrolet and oh yes, Dellenbach Sabaru proved not only to be a good neighbor, but ensured that we enjoyed the smoothest car acquisition we have ever pursued in our lives so yes, if you are in the area make sure you stop by to see Steve or his son, Jordan.

For car enthusiasts, having a first name of Jordan reminds us of Wayne Taylor Racing where Jordan and his brother Ricky were top performers in the Daytona Prototype (DPi) class driving a Cadillac prototype. To my friends and colleagues outside of the US, yes Cadillac has a very successful and high profile LeMans class car that well, looks nothing like a Cadillac we can buy and yet, retains trim such as lights front and back that make it an unmistakable Cadillac. That’s not the end of the story or of the significance of the name Jordan. There was drama if not consternation during the offseason earlier in the year when Jordan of the Taylor family switched from Cadillac to join the Chevrolet works team driving their latest generation Corvette C8-R.

However, it was Jordan of the Dellenbach family that was involved in convincing us to go ahead and acquire a new Corvette C8-Z51 for ourselves. Note the word, acquire. Don’t hold your breath just yet, although a couple of “Oooohs” and “Ahhhs” wouldn’t go astray. Hard to say if our Jordan left family Cadillac for Corvette but for US$500 you can configure your desired car and submit a request to your dealer to sort out where you might stand in his line of allotments of cars. Expected wait time? Oh, say, anywhere between 15 and 18 months, by the looks of things. For most Americans, such a wait time is unheard of but when the Corvette C8 was announced, first day orders popped so strongly that the first year of production and then the second year were all sold out. Looks like we will be in line for a 2022 model!

Tradition holds that you should always turn up in your ragged jeans, unshaven and acting as casual as can be. It’s never cool to turn up in a supercar or a high performance wildly-lifted off-road 4 X 4. On the other hand, we had blown that opportunity long ago as Steve sees our driveway jewelry every week. Simply opening the garage doors seems to signal a friendly visit and of course, should Steve have a question or two about what we are driving, Margo cringes as I truly cannot help myself as I describe the finer points of this or that car. Arriving then in the BMW i8 Roadster raised nary an eyebrow.

It was during one of those very friendly driveway afternoon cocktail sessions – you know, where we all gather at one place, bringing with us folding chairs beer and wine and a couple of plates of nibblies – when Steve came on over to chat. Almost as an afterthought, when I asked about the timing of the availability for the more track-focused Corvette C8 Z06, Steve asked if Margo and I had seen the latest Corvette as yet. When we responded no we hadn’t it didn’t immediately trigger a response from Steve but a couple of weeks later he said that he believed one would be arriving over the next few days and would we like to be informed?

If the image of the Ferrari at the top of this post with the heading Buckle-Up caught your eye then that was the intent. Not so much the rally through the Redwoods but rather, for what Ferrari still represents. For as long as I can remember, Margo and I have talked about buying a Ferrari or Lamborghini. Actually, for almost as long as we have been married. We have both been behind the wheel of Lamborghini Gallardo’s but as close to a Ferrari that we have come to is with the purchase of our Maserati GT-S back at the start of the previous decade. It came with an engine shared with the then Ferrari California. However, this reference to Ferrari and Lamborghini isn’t by accident as when we first saw the new Corvette, we thought we were looking at a Ferrari. More like a Ferrari 458, the last model of the rear-engine V8 Ferraris that looked nice. To think that here in the US, an earlier model - the Ferrari 430 – is now within the realm of affordability.

Placed behind brass stanchions linked with velvet ropes befitting of a special concept car you would come across at a car show, the Dellenbach family was rightfully proud of the Corvette that they had on display. A white C8 Z51 with the 2LT interior option and with red painted brake calipers and red seat belts. Looked gorgeous to the point that it took our breath away! Had the Chevrolet division of GM truly built this car for everyman? As much as car magazines had written about the potential upside from moving the engine to a place behind the driver for as long as I have been reading car magazines, the arrival of such a Corvette had never before come to fruition.

We were both very surprised when Jordan pulled aside the ropes and opened up the car. There it was, touchable, and here we were climbing aboard. What a cockpit! What an interior! What a quality product from Chevrolet – nothing skimped here when it came to finishes and having owned three previous Corvettes across two generations, there really wasn’t anything comparable that we previously experienced. To think we traded one Corvette in for the Maserati simply because we wanted a vehicle with a “nice interior.” Well, here you have it; Corvette delivered. As we swapped turns behind the wheel and yes, the passenger seat as well, you could almost see the smile growing on Jordan’s face. Obviously, his dad Steve had found a live one and the bait looked awfully tempting.

But not yet! As we drove away from the dealership there were considerable conversations taking place all the way home. It wasn’t a time that we could say was what traditionally we called a monumental weekend, but we could see a timeline developing. It was back in 2018 that we began culling our car fleet from four road cars, an SUV, a track-focused car with trailer and the Motorhome. Our collection of three motorcycles had long been gone. Even so, we knew that the four cars we now have didn’t represent what we truly wanted to take into the twenties decade.

The BMW i8 Roadster we drove to the dealership was a supercar alright, but mostly in name only as delightful as the exterior was, its drivetrain was less than thrilling. As for the “hammer”, our M4 Competition, well, it was being replaced in the BMW product line but the new model left a lot to be desired. We just didn’t like it! A few days later Steve asked if we would like to drive the Corvette C8 sitting on the showroom floor and of course, we jumped at the opportunity.


Nervous as you might imagine (as evident in the photo above) we made our way back to Dellenbach the following weekend and there was the Corvette, all ready and waiting for us to take on the road. “Where would it be OK to go,” we asked. “Anywhere you care to take it,” came the response! “You should drive up to and around Horsetooth Reservoir; that should give you a better sense as to how this latest Corvette performs in traffic and as the road opens up!” Horsetooth Reservoir is a recreational area just to the west of Ft Collins but it includes a climb up and over an outcrop of the Rockies’ front ranges. Perfect, we thought! Of course, nothing could hide how truly nervous we were as we got behind the wheel. At least we had the opportunity to remove our masks once inside. 

As for those earlier references to Ferrari 458s and Lamborghini Gallardos, the first thing that struck us was the view of the road. It wasn’t all that obvious sitting in the vehicle while it was on the showroom floor, but once out on the road, the vista provided reminded us both of our times behind the wheel of the Gallardo. What you see ahead of you is well, nothing. The road opens up to you so that you can see everything and as for the v-shaped peaks topping the front wheel arches, they provided excellent site lines as we approached the twists and turns we encountered on the drive to and from the reservoir.

As for performance, the Dellenbachs weren’t kidding – this Vette gets up and moves unlike any previous Vette or for that matter a Ferrari or Lamborghini. GM have rolled out the essential game changer that so many journalists have said that this Corvette would prove to be. With each passing mile we began noting that all-important metrics, “smiles per miles,” and we weren’t disappointed as vehicle occupants as well as cyclists and pedestrians all wanted to take a second look and in so doing, flashed the biggest smiles we have seen in a very long time. 

The Corvette we were driving allowed us to take in all the optional features that now come with this latest generation of Corvettes. In the past we have had Corvettes that were track focused  as well as convertibles and coupes. As with nearly all Corvette Coupes, we experienced living with a sports car that had a removable top and when removed, how much space it took up in the trunk. This particular option didn’t excite us all that much as we like to drive and already we were talking about how far we planned to drive a future Corvette, and for how long. Did we mention that this iteration of the Corvette comes with a forward placed “frunk” – a second trunk that’s up front!

Upon returning the Corvette we simply walked up to Jordan to tell him, it’s done! Count us in as we want to get on that list as quickly as we could. We were not quite done though as in my excitement I never returned the car’s key to Jordan! We had stopped to get some stuff at Whole Foods down the road when I realized what had happened. We called Jordan and brought him the key as soon as we were done shopping. Oops … Just as well as Dellenbach’s dealership takes time to clean and disinfect cars as they pass from one client to another.

Returning home we went onto the GM web site where you could configure Corvettes and it took us from Saturday afternoon to mid-morning Monday before we settled on a version of this latest generation Corvette that we both liked. Walking into Dellenbach just before lunchtime Monday meant we could chat with both Steve and Jordan and as we had taken the printout from the GM web site with us, it took all of a minute or two to close the deal. You may have read about the markups some dealerships are turning to with sales of the Corvette – amounts ranging from US$10,000 to as much as US$25,000 – well even with as tight a supply as exists, Steve and Jordan emphasized that there would be no additional marketing markup: ! What you see on the GM site is what you will pay. They explained that they did not think it was the right thing to do when selling cars is all about building long term relationships!

Well now, what do you think of it? We ordered a hardtop convertible is the color Ceramic Matrix Gray (CMG) Metallic – a kind of pearl white that has traces of silver and blue that change with the lighting. We have a neighbor who purchased a similar colored seventh generation Corvette Grand Sport in the same color and we absolutely adored how it looked. We added the 3LT trim to the Z51 package but kept the wheels standard even as we chose to color the brake calipers and the seatbelts in red to better match the two tone interior color scheme. For those who want to delve deeper into the options, we opted for the GT2 seats (and not the competition seats) and the nicer, sueded, microfiber wrapped, steering wheel. We even dug deeper into the options list and added the front-lift with memory that lifts the front end 2” to avoid front splitter “curb rash!” And with memory, we only have to press the button once and it will remember that our driveway rises quite significantly from the curb.

All we have to do now is to be patient. In the Holen-Buckle family that isn’t our strong suit and we have never had to wait for a car to be delivered before. Then again, we are always up for new experiences. As a distraction and to celebrate the almost perfect weather we are currently experiencing it was an easy decision to make to head back up the canyon, this time in our own car, to Estes Park. A short lunch was in order and even with the restrictions we all deal with every day, there was still room on the outside patio to enjoy a small adult beverage while eating a sandwich. The culling of our group of four cars now takes on a sense of urgency as we weigh the pros and cons of each of them, but as to what stays will be for a post at another time. For now, it’s cheers from us as we head into the holiday season where Margo and I wish you the best of health as we look forward to seeing as many of you as we can in 2021.






Comments

Scott Vitale said…
Hmmmm. I may need to visit CO and meet your neighbor!

Nice choice, BTW. Thanks for sharing!
Richard said…
You should be seeing plenty of them on the road out your way - CA is a hot spot for spotting hot Vettes!

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