Working at a dealership, it's no wonder that a salesman friend of mine felt compelled to bagder me about my 1998 Dodge Grand Caravan. It became a routine salute for him to ask when I was going to get a different car, and for me to reply, "when you find me a six speed I can work on in the driveway." This went on for several months, until we crossed paths on a cigarette break and he was just smiling at me. To set the scene -and I kid you not- there was a rainbow and "sweet emotion" blaring over the loudspeaker.

He began with his typical "when are you getting rid of the van," but -before I could answer- he whipped out his cell and showed me this; a garage kept, 20,000 mile Corvette with a 6 speed gearbox, full leather interior, and Bilstein variable ride control suspension. Little did he know that the C4 Corvette was my childhood dream car.

After one frantic call to the bank, I was approved for the purchase without so much as a test drive. My advantage was, that I got what the dealership paid for it, and that, though it would've been competitively priced and quick to leave the lot, it was sent off for a new stereo. I was only able to take it for a drive after I'd signed the requisite paperwork, and it was nothing like I'd expected.

It was challenging to drive, had poor visibility, and the handicap I thought I'd gained from not driving a manual for years, had little to do with me. Starting off around a corner, I shifted from first to...I shifted from first, I SHIFTED FROM fourth? Oh there's second.

1 to 4, ladies and gentlemen. The absolutely most idiotic yet ingenious scam GM ever invented to pass emissions. It turns out that I was not so out of practice as I had thought. There is an actual mechanism on the gearbox that makes it impossible to shift from first into second in certain conditions. I remain, and will forever remain uncertain as to what these conditions are. That is because, all I had to do was pull out the clip.

I really could go off about how I was forced to shift into fourth doing 10 miles an hour up a very steep hill on a daily basis leaving the drive, but thankfully that was an issue which took two months to complain about and three minutes to resolve.

My dad, after driving it, said quote, "I never need to drive that again." I find that to be a fair assessment, especially considering that I had not disabled the 1 to 4 feature before he had driven it. I will, however say, that he looked rather propper and duly respectable inside of it. All of its faults aside, it is undoubtedly attractive and enjoyable to drive (but only when you're used to it).

The security guard at work says it looks like a spaceship.

Whether you care for the C4 Corvette is of little concern. I do know that I've been blown kisses from female motorists which I probably would not have received in my clapped out minivan. Is it worth what I paid? Every cent...and dollar...and...

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