Copyright ©2009 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

From NPR News, it's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

And I'm Melissa Block.

As General Motors begins to restructure under bankruptcy, the company is expressing what it calls 100 percent confidence in its Corvette line.

GM says it will continue to make the iconic sports car, but as NPR's Tovia Smith reports, many Corvette drivers are deeply troubled by the state of the company that makes their beloved macho cars.

TOVIA SMITH: Ask a Corvette driver about the GM bankruptcy, and you might actually make a grown man shed a tear or two.

Mr. TERRI PARTRIDGE (President, South Shore Corvette Club): It hurts, you know? I hate to see it happen.

SMITH: Terri Partridge is president of Massachusetts' South Shore Corvette Club.

Unidentified Man: Ladies and gentlemen, once again, welcome to Cruise Night here at Monponsett Inn.

SMITH: A group of guys joined together by their passion and lust for their Vette.

Mr. STEVE BOYAJIAN(ph): I fell in love years ago, basically as a kid, and when you get older, you finally say, you know, before I die, I want to own a Corvette.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SMITH: Steve Boyajian is the kind of customer who made GM the giant it once was, selling sports cars and dreams to drivers 17 or 70, like Terri Partridge.

Mr. PARTRIDGE: It's the feeling you get when you're driving it. You just, you never get old driving this thing.

(Soundbite of laughter)

And that's mine, HOT 1.

SMITH: HOT 1.

Mr. PARTRIDGE: HOT 1.

SMITH: With the flames on it.

Mr. PARTRIDGE: With the flames on it.

SMITH: These are guys with way more invested in their cars than the sticker price.

John Zofchak(ph) says he suped up his Vette with a custom paint job, vertical-lift doors…

Mr. JOHN ZOFCHAK: You know, transmission work, body work, brake work, shock work, suspension work. And I always do a little customizing to the car, so I'm a part of the car as well.

SMITH: Who wouldn't want to see themselves in the iconic American hot rod? To guys like Boyajian, the Corvette was always the epitome of pride and power.

Mr. BOYAJIAN: No question about it, it all comes from power. That's right. When you step on that thing, that thing can respond, smoke the tires and shoot out of that hole. Oh, yeah, that's definitely something.

(Soundbite of revving engine)

SMITH: Across the lot, Zofchak shows off his sleek, yellow, 638-horsepower ZR1.

Mr. ZOFCHAK: And this car is so powerful it requires my girlfriend to wear a sports bra.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SMITH: No wonder so many of these guys are having a hard time seeing the once-dominant GM, the maker of their ultimate American muscle car, now on its knees.

Mr. BOYAJIAN: We can't let General Motors go. That's letting America go if you let General Motors go. I mean, it's a way of life.

SMITH: Again, Boyajian and Paul Lesogor(ph).

Mr. PAUL LESOGOR: It's an American icon, General Motors. It's, like, unbelievable to think that, you know, we'd lose them. Forget about it. It's crazy.

SMITH: Most folks here believe that GM will recover, but what saves the company might also spoil its appeal to folks like Zofchak.

Mr. ZOFCHAK: You know, I certainly think that, you know, you're going to see a lot more smaller cars, more efficient cars being built. Is it what people want? No, but it's what they're going to be able to afford. That's the bottom line, you know?

SMITH: But then, people aren't going to have the same relationship with their car.

Mr. ZOFCHAK: Absolutely not. It's going to be - a car is going to be nothing more than a piece of transportation, and maybe that's all it should be. Who knows?

SMITH: It all leaves members of this Corvette club wondering what kind of car clubs their kids will join. As one put it, GM might become more like the Japanese. But 30 years from now, he says, who's going to want to collect Toyota Scions?

Tovia Smith, NPR News.

Copyright © 2009 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.