By Donald Wittkowski
A simple sticky note, tucked away in a drawer and thought to be forgotten, got Clyde Sutton his dream car.
About 10 years ago, Sutton was driving past a Hammonton body shop and spotted a meticulously restored 1962 Corvette convertible resplendent in a Roman red color scheme.
He offered to buy the car, but the body shop owner wasn’t interested in selling. Undeterred, Sutton handed him a note with his name and phone number scrawled on it and told the owner to call him if he ever changed his mind.
“I never thought he would save the note, but he kept it in a drawer. He called me eight years later and said, ‘You’re not going to believe me, but I’m ready to sell,’’’ Sutton recalled.
On Sunday, Sutton and his wife, Sharon, showed off the striking car during Ocean City’s annual Corvette Show. Sutton’s convertible was among about 425 Corvettes, from all eras, lining the Boardwalk in an awesome display of America’s supercar.
Now in its 27th year, the event is organized by a club called Boardwalk Corvettes of Atlantic City. Although the club’s name says Atlantic City, it is Ocean City’s Boardwalk that provides the picturesque beachfront setting for the show.
“The Boardwalk draws everybody. A typical Corvette show at a dealership would draw only a hundred people,” said Jeremy Agasar, president of the Boardwalk Corvettes.
Agasar estimated that thousands of car lovers are attracted to the show, including some who spend an entire weekend at the Jersey Shore to attend the event. It is considered one of the top five Corvette shows in the country, organizers said.
The show also benefited from sunny skies and temperatures in the low 70s Sunday. Onlookers marveled over the collection of modern-day Vettes as well as some historic models dating back to the early 1950s, when Chevrolet introduced the car to the public.
The 63-year-old Sutton, who lives in Millville, said his car is part of the C1 Class that represented the first generation of Corvettes manufactured from 1953 to 1962. He declined to disclose how much he paid for it, but his specialty license plate suggests the purchase price wasn’t cheap.
It says, “OUR401K,” a reference to the 401(k) retirement fund.
“That tells the whole story,” Sharon Sutton said, laughing.
One admirer of Sutton’s car was Patrick Daly, of Ocean City, who has been on a long quest to find a 1962 Corvette for his friend, Tony Venezia, who lives in Prescott, Ariz. In 1979, Venezia sold a 1962 Corvette he once owned and, with Daly’s help, has been looking to find another one ever since.
“We’re in search of the Holy Grail. This is the first ’62 I’ve seen in years,” Daly told Clyde Sutton.
Sutton, however, had no interest in selling his car. He politely directed Daly to another 1962 Corvette that was in the show.
Corvette owners are known for having a fierce loyalty to the brand. Ingrid and Frank Nestore, for instance, have owned seven Vettes over the years, including a 1965 model. On Sunday, the married couple from Broomall, Pa., had their 2017 black Corvette convertible on display on the Boardwalk.
Explaining her affinity for Corvettes, the 67-year-old Ingrid Nestore said the car combines superb handling and performance with gorgeous looks.
“When you step on the gas, you really go. It’s like flying. It really hugs the road,” she said.
Nestore called the Corvette the “American dream car.” Glancing down the Boardwalk, she seemed awestruck to be in the company of so many other Vettes.
“If you look around, it’s like ‘Wow!’’’ she exclaimed.