It was supposed to be a straightforward “car guy” profile when I met with Jim Hefley on Friday. He has always been a good tipster for me to find other car enthusiasts to profile, and I wanted to take him up on an offer he’d made to go for a ride in his Corvette.
He enjoyed taking people on their first ride in a Corvette, he said, and I’d never been in one. Friday morning before work, Hefley called me. He wanted to change the arrangement for the story. He wanted me to drive his Corvette.
I told him we would see about that. I met up with him, and we talked about Corvettes in general.
“They are really a fun car to own,” Hefley said.
He sees keeping a Corvette in tiptop shape as a sort of preservation of automotive history, as well as a reward that he couldn’t give himself in high school and college, when it was his dream car.
“You can have a bad day at work, put the top down, put on some Beach Boys, and your blood pressure can come down real quick,” Hefley said. “I bought them for the pure joy of driving them.”
I don’t doubt for a second that it’s pure joy for him. If you ever get him talking about cars, it’s clear he has a passion for them.
He said he enjoys working on his cars, especially after being behind a desk all day at work. Car enthusiasts often give each other good-natured ribbings about their taste in cars — Ford vs. Chevrolet, etc. — but there’s a camaraderie, too, Hefley said.
With the interview done, it was time to go for the ride and get some pictures. He wanted me to drive at first, but I told him I wanted to get pictures and get a sense of his Corvette before taking the wheel.
I suspect I was closer to the ground in the passenger seat than I am in my office chair. We went on a loop out to Canada, and when we turned onto U.S. 56, the acceleration was plenty to put me back in that low-to-the-ground seat.
At Canada, Hefley pulled over and told me it was my turn to drive. I had what I needed for the feature, so I said OK. Even keeping it at the speed limit was an experience.
I could feel the horsepower, and all those horses wanted to go faster than 55 mph. I felt like I was reining the car in — not a feeling I’ve ever had with my Lumina, or the Neon or Catalina before that.