The Corvette generations will be out in force Sunday at the American Airpower Museum in East Farmingdale — and not just the generations of men and women who have owned, restored and thrilled to the sound of the classic American sports car’s burbling exhaust.
Models spanning 65 years of Corvette body-style “generations” — from the C1 introduced in 1953 to the current C7 generation first rolled out in 2014 — will be sparkling amid the museum’s array of World War II, Vietnam and Korean War warbirds.
Visitors can take photos with brightly shined Fiberglas convertibles — some souped-up, others restored to classic condition. You can chat with owners about what it’s like to own a ’vette, and vote for “People’s Choice” trophy winners.
Bringing the kids along? Members of the younger generation might be invited to get behind the wheel of a two-seater, provided they don’t leave fingerprints.
“People say that Corvette people are snobby, but that’s not the case at all,” says Thomas Donato, 59, of Bellmore, a real estate appraiser and a member of the 350-member Long Island Corvette Owners Association. “I personally let kids sit in my car, as long as they’re not eating ice cream.”
Donato and other owners say that the car icon’s all-American appeal is behind the Chevrolet Corvette’s continuing popularity.
“It’s America’s first and only sports car,” says Lloyd Rosen, 49, of Bethpage, an attorney and LICOA’s newsletter editor. “At one point everyone wanted to own [one] or date someone with a Corvette.”
Donato says the original Corvettes were intended to capture the imagination of the postwar generation. “All the guys coming home from the service were used to driving English cars and sports cars, and General Motors saw a desire to have an American sports car,” Donato says.
Corvettes went on to become an American symbol and the favorite ride of The Right Stuff era astronauts. Tom Hanks drove one in “Apollo 13,” and they’ve also inspired movie homages, such as Mark Hamill’s “Corvette Summer” (1978) and Corvette Barbie’s jaunt in a pink C5 model in “Toy Story 3” (2010).
The LICOA’s monthly meetings are the first Wednesday of every month at the Bellmore Public Library.
Here’s a guide to Corvette generations you might see at the show, from the early days through today.
C1 Among the rarest models expected: Alan Blay’s C1 from 1953, the year the Corvette was introduced.
“It was the 75th Corvette built out of 300,” Blay, 68, of Bellmore, who owns an insurance business, says of his restored C1. “It’s a full restoration with a white exterior, a red interior and a black convertible top,” Blay says. The vehicle also is equipped with unusual features such as removable windows and a signal-seeking radio.
C2 The second generation saw the debut of the Sting Ray body, known for its split back window: A bar runs down the middle of the coupe’s rear window, Rosen says.
“That’s when it became known for big horsepower,” Rosen adds of the generation produced from 1963 to 1967. Donato will be showing off his 1963 C2.
C3 Manufactured from 1968 through 1982, the C3 marked a major change from earlier models, with a distinctive curved “Coke-bottle” body style.
C4 No 1983 Corvettes were sold to the public. The model year was skipped in preparation for the 1984 Corvette. That launched the C4 generation, which lasted through 1996.
C5-C7 Most of the vehicles you’ll see at the show will be recent models, including the C5 (1997-2004), the C6 (2005-2013) and C7s, says Rosen. He’s bringing his 2011 C6.
Vettes and Jets
WHEN | WHERE 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 1 (rain date Oct. 7), American Airpower Museum, 1230 New Highway, East Farmingdale
INFO 516-605-5147, licoa.org
ADMISSION $10 ($5 ages 4-12); $25 show car registration
MORE CORVETTE CLUBS
In addition to LICOA, Corvette enthusiasts have formed several clubs that are open to both owners and people who just want to talk sports cars.
The National Corvette Restorers Society
The LI Metro Chapter hosts two meets annually, one in the spring and one in the fall, at which Corvettes are judged for their originality. The next meet is 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 1, at Exotic Classics dealership, 100 Gordon Dr., Syosset.
The Corvette Society
Meets the first Tuesday of each month at 8 p.m., Levittown Hall, 201 Levittown Pkwy., Hicksville.
INFO Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Long Island Vettes
Meets the first Thursday of the month at 7:30 p.m., Bethpage Public Library, 47 Powell Ave., Bethpage
INFO 516-724-0719, longislandvettes.org