Guy Larsen knows his Corvettes. He has to, as a division director for judges at the Bloomington Gold show every year in Illinois.
"I oversee the judges for the C4, C5, C6 cars," he explained. "But I also talk to the owners, and make sure they're having fun and understand the scoring."
His attention to detail started at a young age. His dad was a big fan of the sports cars of the day, but his mom didn't want him to spend money on them. Instead, he'd bring home car brochures, and Guy would pour over the details.
"I'd memorize all the models, and I loved the Corvette."
One day, his uncle drove up in a C1 car, and Guy was hooked.
"This was the early 1960s, when people had one car per family. Few people had an extra sports car, but my uncle did," he recalled. "My brother and I piled into the passenger seat and went for a ride. That made a big impression on me."
But it wasn't until after college that Guy got his hands behind the wheel of his own Vette. He purchased a 1974 car from a friend, and his Corvette collection began in earnest.
"There was nothing special about 1974s, and this car wasn't perfect at all," he said. "But your first Corvette is a big deal."
A year later he had the chance to upgrade. He got rid of the '74, and bought out the lease of a '77 from someone who couldn't keep up with the payments. Less than five years out of college, and he owned a practically brand-new Corvette.
Thirty years later, he's got five cars in his garage:
- 1971 LS6 that went through a total frame-off restoration. Larsen says only about 180 cars were produced with the LS6 engine, less than 1 percent of the 21,801-unit production run for that year. Of those, only about 70 are still in existence, making this his rarest and most prized Vette in his collection. The car's been received the NCRS's Duntov Award of Excelllence, Triple Crown Award, Triple Diamond Award.
- 1972 Survivor car. "It has every piece of paperwork since it came out of the factory." He's yet to enter it into the Bloomington Survivor show, but has plans for 2010.
- 1989 Corvette Challenge car: One of the 50 Vettes produced over two years that could be converted into stock racing cars.
- 1996 Grand Sport model
- 1997 Z06
Based on his collection, Larsen straddles the line between old and new.
"The old ones have the nostalgia. You take them to a show and person after person comes up and tells you, 'I had one just like this,'" Larsen explained. "The new ones, though, are technical and engineering masterpieces. The Z06 is a bargain of a car, and a thrill to drive."