Malaise Era Corvette Begins Long Journey To Czech Republic


In a vivid demonstration of how this here internet thing has made the world shrink, BobAsh (our Czech Tatra 603 road-testin' friend) has arranged with me and Señor Loverman to inspect, buy, and deliver an East Bay 1981 Corvette to a shipping container bound from the Port of Los Angeles for the Land of Kafka. The Loverman's role was to handle the "buy and deliver" part, an adventure he covered in his usual style at his current place of employment. But before that Late Malaise machine could head south, it had to be inspected by yours truly; make the jump for the story and more photos.

The car was located in Fremont, which is about 30 miles from the Island That Time Forgot, and I wanted to hit the Pick Your Part in nearby Milpitas anyway, so I agreed to go over and take a look at the Corvette BobAsh (and a shadowy consortium of Czech Trilateral Commission operatives) had picked out on Craiglist. Once I'd placed my patented Malaisemobile Seal of Approval™ on the car, Lieberman was to lurch leap into action, picking up the cash wired by the Czechs' Nigerian bagmen and blowing every dime on poker and 7-diamond prostitutes catching the next plane up from SoCal.

The first thing I noticed about the car (after spotting the '88 and '73 Vettes parked nearby) was the amazingly Malaise blue metalflake paint job, like something from Foghat's drum set, circa 1978. The owner was pleasant enough and definitely knew his Corvettes, but I knew I had to be thorough or spend the rest of my days looking over my shoulder for a hit squad straight outta Prague. The car had sat for 10 years prior to the current owner getting it in running condition, which meant all manner of strange problems could show themselves. So I took photos of all the flaws I could find (the photos in these galleries are the very ones I sent to BobAsh) and checked all the stuff I knew (from bitter experience) that GM tended to screw up in the Late Malaise period. Leaky T-tops? Check (though there's not much point in checking those, given that GM T-tops would find a way to leak water if you parked the car on the face of the Moon). Funky electrical system? Oh yes; no heater/AC function whatsoever, no turn signals, flaky headlights. Bubbling paint? Check. But it started, drove, turned, and stopped, the interior was pretty decent for the price, and- aside from the paint job- it was pretty much original. Yes, even the dreaded Computer Q-Jet was still there and in working order. I wrote up my report and sent it off, breathing a sigh of relief as the responsibility passed from my shoulders to those of Lieberman.