Sometimes Corvette ownership starts out when you weren’t really looking for one to begin with. Such was the case for Frank and Deborah Whaley of Roanoke, Virginia.
The couple’s youngest son was about to start college and needed a car. Frank began shopping around, looking at a 35-year-old Mercedes and a couple of sports cars that he thought might be nice. “Deborah said one day, ‘why is the kid getting a sports car? Why doesn’t he get the family sedan, and I get a sports car?’ So, we started looking for her instead.”
That’s when Deborah had the idea to investigate Corvette as a potential purchase. “Well, I’d been racing Corvettes for years in my Toyota Supra, so I said, ‘let’s go look.’” The couple stumbled upon an ad for a 1985 Corvette with 25,000 miles. At the time, it was 11 years old and Frank thought surely, they left out a digit on the mileage.
“The car ended up being only five minutes away from us and still on its original tires. It was a show car,” said Frank. “The owner immediately asked us ‘how did you find the ad?’ His wife was making him sell it because his model train set that should have been in the garage was taking up space in the living room. It literally took two months to pry the car off him.”
Nicknamed ‘BB’ for Black Beauty, the car served as Deborah’s daily driver for a long time with the couple putting about 50,000 miles on it. “About 18,000 of the miles are from Corvette Caravans and other Corvette road trips,” said Frank. “We tell people all the time that if you have to go on a Corvette trip with someone, it needs to be someone you like because there’s only room for one toothbrush.” Frank laughed.
The car represented model year 1985 for the 100th Birthday of General Motors display and was an alternate for the Historic Motorama. “We’ve always treated it as a historic car. It is a terrific example of a 1985 with fairly low miles and is almost all original,” added Frank. “We felt it should be at the Museum where it can be seen by more than just the 1984 driving in front of us, and the 1986 driving behind us.”
Of course, with another Corvette in their stable, having more space in their garage for their next Corvette purchase was also a solid reason for the donation. “This is not our only Corvette, but it is the one we don’t drive much anymore.”
As Lifetime Members of the Museum since 1997, the couple had talked for years about making the donation. “To be able to own the car and drive it, and then be able to hand it off to the Museum – I feel extremely privileged to be able to do that,” said Frank. “The Museum is a terrific place. Some of the people we’ve met on caravans have been friends ever since. We come back every year to see people.”
Thank you to Frank and Deborah Whaley for their generosity. We can’t wait to see which Corvette you drive on the 2019 Caravan!