June 14, 2014 at 5:24 pm

Passionate Corvette owners gather downtown to show off and talk cars

Detroit— Don Dale got his first Corvette when he was 16 years old. It was a 1968 Corvette with 427 horsepower under the hood.

“My dad said, ‘did you have a fun time driving it home?’ I said, yeah and he said, ‘well, you’re going to have a fun time driving it back then,” said the Shelby Township resident. “I had it one day.”

Dale, 57, never lost that desire to have a Corvette, but it took him until nine years ago to get one that he could actually keep. Three years ago, he traded that vehicle for a 2006 Sunset Metallic Orange model, one of only 288 made in that color.

“It’s all about performance,” he said of what attracted him to the powerhouse vehicle.

Around 100 Corvette owners gathered behind the General Motors building in downtown Detroit Saturday to show off their cars and talk shop. Corvette-obsessed organizer of the event Larry Courtney said the goal was to bring together the “family” of Corvette owners in the area.

“It’s just such a passion. It’s such a good group of people,” said the Warren resident who, along with his wife Verna — a Corvette enthusiast herself — owns a 1999 model that is painted like an American flag. They take the car on roadtrips all across the country. “It’s like a family and it doesn’t matter if you’ve got the brand new C7 of any other car in this lot.”

Courtney first held the gathering last year in honor of the Corvette’s 50th birthday. He originally didn’t plan to host it again until people starting asking when it would be held. General Motors got on board, providing a Corvette Racing tent where enthusiasts could check out the Le Mans race on TV and marvel over two special luxury editions of the2015 Stingray muscle car, inspired by the East and West coasts.

“We can have a lot of fun with this car,” said Courtney. “There’s tons of stuff you can do with it.”

On Saturday, James Hall chose to let his car do all the talking. He sat in a foldable beach chair alongside his 2014 velocity yellow Corvette C7 with sparkling “carbon flesh” racing stripes.

He got the car the day after Christmas and hadn’t taken it out until April 5 because of the harsh winter. He’s already put 800 miles on it.

“It’s just America’s sportscar,” said the West Bloomfield resident. “As a kid I always said, as soon as I can afford it, I’m going to get one.”

Hall made good on his promise and has had several Corvettes since then. He was 27 when he got his first one in 1967 and tackled a car payment that was $113 a month.

“I was thinking, how in the hell am I going to pay for this,” he said.

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A 1965 Corvette drives past a parked Corvette during the 'Corvettes in the D' car show. / Steve Perez / The Detroit News
Several C7 Corvettes are parked together, Saturday June 14, 2014, during ... (Steve Perez / The Detroit News)
Anthony Murray of Grosse Pointe Park wipes down his 2000 Corvette ... (Steve Perez / The Detroit News)