Friday, June 13, 2008

Farewell to "RED"...

1987 Red Corvette

There was a time in my life that offered a far more naive Mel. It was before I realized what the color "RED" could do to a person. Being a bit color blind, along with a percentage of my gender, color was not of the utmost importance to me. I always knew that "GREEN" was the worst color for anything not having to do with nature, but aside from that, I thought all colors were created equally, until I tried a few "REDS". I recalled delving into the Corvette market in my younger years. I learned that they held their value a lot more than the average automobile, simply because of the amorous lovers of sports cars, along with the passion for "RED". At one point I bought a Silver and Gray Corvette, that I loved because it was low mileage and that "chip" that they added to them to give them a little more horsepower. This Vette SCREAMED down the road. I kept it for probably a year and eventually tried selling it. No luck. Everyone I showed it to had "a few more to look at". (Death to the car salesman). A friend suggested I paint it "RED" and I replied, why. The more I thought about it, it would seem like a different car to me and might give it new strength in the sales market. I went ahead and tried it, knowing full well that changing colors on a car is a big "no no".

It came out beautiful, although the expense of the paint job made me think I might have priced it out of the market. I liked it so much that I decided to keep it a little while longer. Another year later, there was no doubt in my mind that I was stuck with this car. I seldom drove it as I got older and was about to turn 50. I decided to try my luck on it one more time and placed an ad. My price was so high that I didn't think I had a chance in hell of ever selling it. The very first phone call I got was from a man named Ralph. Along with several questions about the car, he asked why was I selling it. I thought for a moment and answered, "because I'm getting too old for it". Ralph inquired how old I was and I replied, 50. He said, that's not too old, I'm 54! I told Ralph that he was too old too! We both laughed. Ralph made an appointment to come out and see the car.

When Ralph showed up for his appointment, he was a nice enough guy. He was an engineer for Allied Radio and they were in the process of being eaten up by Honeywell I believe and his life was turned all upside down. Not only was his job being compromised, but his wife of many years announce that she was leaving him and leaving their 17 year old son with him, as well. So now Ralph was unemployed, abandoned, aging and reaching out. I couldn't have ordered a more ideal buyer!!!

We went out to the garage and looked at old "RED". As she sat there in her glory, I noticed a gleam start to shine in Ralph's eye.. He asked all of the right questions and all of the answers were good. It was a one owner, owned by an older Scottsdale gentleman, had all of the service records, a clean accident history. I told Ralph that it used to be silver and I painted it "RED" and he remarked, nice job. He asked if we could take it for a ride and told him of course, that's what this is all about. As Ralph climbed into the driver's seat, somehow he didn't look 54 anymore, more like a 45 year old Ralph. He cautiously pulled out into the road and took off, going slowly and methodically. Ralph was starting to show the "pride of ownership" that I had hoped for.

Being my neighborhood, Ralph asked where he could take it to best let him get a feel for the car. Since Greenway Road had just been paved and restriped, I suggested it. Greenway almost looked like a race track in the area that we were in. It had banks and curves and ideal for a test drive, plus I knew a secret about old "RED". "RED" was quick. She moved right along. When you would "get on it" in first gear and let wind out, when it shifted into second, due to the torch of the engine, it would give a little "chirp" from the rear tires and it would slide a little to the left, making you think you were losing control of the car, but would always regain it's control. When I first discovered this, I felt a little bit of adrenalin escape into my bloodstream, along with a little bit of pee into my pants!

I suggested to Ralph that he "get on it" once and Ralph looked over and said, you don't mind? I said, I know you want to. Ralph pulled over and started from a stop and only "RED" and I knew what was to come. As "RED" got ready to shift into second, I made it a point to watch Ralph's face. It went from responsible, to terror, to delight. I knew that "RED" was going home with Ralph.

When we got back to my house, we were both still sitting in the car. Ralph looked over at me and said, "How much are you asking for it, $11,000? I nodded, yes. Immediately Ralph asked, would you take $10,000? I think all I did was raise one eye brow and without my saying a word, Ralph just said, why would you, I'll just take it. We both burst out laughing.

Ralph paid me and left with "RED". He left his Jeep at my house overnight and came back the next day with an overjoyed 17 year old son with him to drive the Jeep. I watched out the window as the argument took place and the kid eventually got into "RED" and took off. I felt a sense of loss as I watched "RED" drive away, but the $11,000 seemed to comfort me.


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