There are times when politics gets put to one side and all can agree on one thing: a good looking car is a good looking car.
General Motors found the magic formula some decades ago and the Chevrolet Corvette, from the original through to the 1970s and perhaps 1980s, is arguably a damned good looking car. The astronauts certainly had an eye for class and drove Corvettes in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s.
One particular Corvette, a 1967 open-top model in metallic green, complete with pop-up headlights, caught the eye of a father in a showroom, and bought it as a wedding gift to his son.
That son, Joseph Robinette Biden Jr, is the 46th President of the U.S. of A., and he still owns that car. It cost his Dad the then princely sum of $5,600, and was one of the 14,436 convertibles produced that year from a total of 22,940 Corvettes for the 1967 model.
In an interview with car enthusiast Jay Leno, Biden said, like any car enthusiast would, that he “loved speed” and quietly admitted to Leno that he had maxed the 1967 Corvette. Chevrolet said that the car’s maximum velocity was 152mph, and Biden’s words were “I’ve buried this”, meaning he’s hit max-v.
That speed is courtesy of a L79 V8, with 350 ponies from the 327 cubic inch iron lump, driving the rear wheels through a four speed manual. It’s a good enough package to see the Aussie freeway speed limit in around six seconds.
There’s love and tragedy attached to this car. Biden said: “I was getting married in August of '67. My dad didn’t have a lot of money, but he ran the largest Chevrolet dealership in the state for years.
He said to my then, soon-to-be wife, Neilia, why don’t you give me your car (she had a 1965 Tempest and Biden’s then set of wheels was a 1963 Chevy), and I’ll fix them for you for the wedding. So four days later, we go to pick the cars up and there’s 75 people outside the dealership. We pull up, they spread and my Dad said, ‘This is my wedding gift.'"
Tragically his wife and toddler daughter were killed in a collision five years later which also injured his sons.
He’s not had much time in the last decade to have enjoyed it though. During his tenure as Vice President, the Secret Service wouldn’t let him drive, and even after President Obama’s second term concluded, he was stopped by the Secret Service after. And now, as president, he’s transported by “The Beast”, the custom built limo reserved for the nation’s top job.
It seems, too, that his limited time before taking the oath of office in January of 2021 may have been the last time he could fully enjoy the freedom of piloting such a machine on his own, Secret Service regulations stipulate that a President cannot drive themselves on an open road during and after their tenure.
That’s a shame, as the sight of a sunglasses wearing ex-President burning up the miles in a 1967 classic Chevrolet Corvette, grinning like a lottery winner, would have been a sight to see.