Cold day. Hot car.

Test-drove a Corvette this afternoon… We took a day off at the shop and there I am at the car lot, having a set of keys dropped into my palm. Idle hands are the devil’s playground, they say – and, as proof – I miss one lunch hour carrying plates and I’m behind the wheel and firing up a 350 cubic inch V-8.

The salesman was a nice gentleman who was filling in over the holiday weekend. He asked me if my interest in the car was one of those mid-life things, and of course I had to correct him.

“Late life thing,” I pointed out.

Turning the key, I had to suppress a grin when the engine fired. The ‘Vette certainly had that muscle car throaty growl.

“Take it out,” said the salesman. “Drive it like you own it.”

So I did.

corvette1986

As my buddy-since-school-days Mark will attest, that doesn’t mean I spun the tires as I whipped onto 71st Street. (He told me once that I drove ‘like the oldest 18-year-old’ he had ever seen. I figured if I wore the tires from spinning them, I’d be the one paying for the replacements.)

My bucket-list thing (which is what I figure it is) is to have a car that will snap my head back when I punch the accelerator. I’m not trying to give myself whiplash and I’m not feeling the need to break speed limits. It’s a little hard to understand and even harder to explain.

Sort of like wanting to have the artistic talent to paint a ceiling mural, but having no desire to climb a scaffold to spend a month on my back dabbing with a brush. Sort of.

The car eased out onto 71st, which was jammed with traffic in both directions. I punched it and – sure enough – I merged into the flow with ease. No head snapping though. Automatic transmission. Cold, cold, day. The salesman had said the car had been parked, unstarted, for several days.

I dropped the shift lever from Overdrive to third-gear and goosed it a little, to a better response.

Decided not to take it out on the expressway, although he suggested I go air it out. I’ve still got that overriding caution. Don’t want to smack into something in a borrowed car. More probably – don’t want something smacking into me in a borrowed car.

It’s hard to keep emotions tamped down, once that car-bug bites. After I backed it into its space at the lot and took the keys inside, he quickly pointed out that the year was ending and the owner would like to have it out of the year-end inventory.

Good deal on it, he said. Today.

Well, I wasn’t going to pull the trigger after a single test drive. There was a time I might have (admitting here that I have been known to be impulsive).

This is the era of Google and the internet. Car forums. Parts listings. Comparative pricing. A lot of things to be learned from researching at the computer.

None as fun as taking the Corvette out for a drive.