Sometimes true love comes in a 1965 Rally Red Corvette | VailDaily.com

Sometimes true love comes in a 1965 Rally Red Corvette

Despite accruing a small vintage car collection, Clark Kirby, of Arlington, Texas, never owned a Corvette, and never considered owning one, until his father passed away in July 2008.

"One of the fondest memories I have of my father was when I was in high school, and he let me drive his Corvette Sting Ray to special occasions like proms, so when he passed away, I was looking for something physical to help me remember my father better than just memories," Kirby said.

"It was nice of him to let me drive that car when I couldn't even afford the insurance for a car like that, so I have special fond memories of my dad allowing me to drive his car. I thought it was very nice of him to do that."

Without the vehicle identification number, Kirby didn't have a way to hunt down the original car that his dad owned, so he went with the next best thing — a rally red 1965 Corvette Sting Ray coupe that he purchased from classic Corvette expert Terry Michaelis. From the moment it rolled off the transporter from Napoleon, Ohio, in November 2008, Kirby was smitten.

"It had been repainted some years before and it was really beautiful. The red exterior and the red interior makes it really look showy, is the best word I can use," Kirby said. "Probably 90 percent of Corvettes of that era had a black interior."

The car had come off the Chevrolet assembly line mid-run in 1965, and the original owner had checked every box imaginable when ordering it from the factory, from the striking red interior to the 365 horsepower racing engine to factory air conditioning. Kirby said the combination of the racing engine with the clunky features of the air unit, among a slew of other options on the car, make it very rare, one of maybe five of its kind.

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Of course, the allure of a muscle car such as the Corvette, particularly an early-generation C1 or C2 model, isn't necessarily the showy bits, but the thrum of the engine.

"I fell in love with the looks of it first, and then I got the keys from the transport driver and started the car up and heard the solid lifters of the racing engine," Kirby said. "The sound of that engine through its side pipes was just wonderful; it sounded like America. I fell in love with listening to it."

The marque, or featured model of car, for this year's Vail Automotive Classic is the Chevy Corvette, and Clark's is one of a few dozen that will be on display at the Wheels & Wings Festival at the Vail Valley Jet Center today, and at the Vail Village Car Show on Sunday.

The cars will span multiple generations, from the 1960s to the present, but for Kirby, the flashy styling and the lunk-lunk sound of the engine in his '65 Sting Ray can't be beat.

"I wanted something that was more than just a vintage Corvette," he said. "I wanted something that's really special."

If you go …

What: Vail Automotive Classic Wheels & Wings Festival.

When: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 10.

Where: Vail Valley Jet Center, 871 Cooley Mesa Road, Gypsum.

Cost: General admission is $20 for adults and $5 for children, or $40 for a family pack good for two adults and three children; VIP is $100 for adults and $60 for children, and all children 5 and younger are free.

More information: Visit http://www.vailautomotiveclassic.com for details and to purchase advance tickets.

If you go …

What: Vail Village Car Show.

When: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11.

Where: Vail Village.

Cost: Free.

More information: The public is invited to participate in voting for the People’s Choice award of the show. Learn more at http://www.vailautomotiveclassic.com.