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Dayton Auto Show focuses on Corvette

The Dayton Auto Show will rev up Feb. 21-24 at the Dayton Convention Center.

As always, no one can buy a vehicle at the show. But visitors can scout out 2013 and even some 2014 models and educate themselves about possible next purchases.

Dealers and manufacturers hope shows like this one will whet appetites for upcoming models.

“It’s a great one-stop shop for people who are looking for a car because everything is under one roof,” said Marie Gilman, auto show manager for the Ohio Auto Dealers Association.

All the big manufacturers will be represented and a 2014 Chevrolet Silverado is expected to be on hand, Gilman said. Showgoers should also look for increasingly sophisticated examples of digital dashboards and hybrid and electric vehicles, organizers said.

But a big part of this year’s show is the 60th anniversary of the mighty Chevrolet Corvette.

You don’t need to explain to Thom Murph why the Corvette has such staying power. The 72-year-old Harrison Twp. resident says he has owned 12 of them and took delivery of No. 13 — a 60th anniversary edition of the much-loved muscle car — last week from Buds Chevrolet in St. Mary’s.

“The romance of the Corvette is, it’s the thing that the average teenager or young man relates to when it comes to cars,” Murph said.

Murph bought his first ‘Vette in 1961, and he hasn’t fallen out of love. A former semiconductor industry salesman, he even bought his wife a Corvette as a wedding present.

His favorite iteration of the model was the C2-series from 1963 to 1967. Murph calls those versions “probably the best classic Corvette that had the best mechanics and body design.”

Although he quickly added: “For their time. They (the mid-60s models) can’t hold a candle to the new ones when it comes to handling and everything else.”

An executive vice president in the Corvette Troy Club, Murph sees the Corvette as something essential to the American spirit, fighting off what he called “an inferiority complex” that he believes at one time haunted the domestic auto industry.

After all, this was a car that could (and did) beat Japanese and European models at the 24-hour LeMans race, he noted.

“The love of the Corvette was in large part brought about by the fact that that’s the best we have,” Murph said.

He acknowledges that ‘Vettes aren’t cheap. Motor Trend magazine puts the base price for a 2013 Corvette 427 at $76,900, although other models are much less. The 2013 Coupe starts at $49,600, according to Chevrolet.

They aren’t roomy vehicles, and they don’t offer a “million-dollar glove-leather interior,” Murph said.

But he added, “It’s a vehicle that gives you a lot for your money.”

Tom Hendricks, a Corvette specialist at Buds Chevrolet, delivered three Corvettes last Wednesday. He owns four Corvettes himself — his first one being a 1976 model — so he gets the allure.

“We had a huge January and February for Corvettes (sales) so far, which is a little unusual for this time of year,” Hendricks said.

A big reason for the Corvette’s popularity is its staying power, he believes. So many people have had fathers or grandfathers who owned a Corvette, or they knew someone who owned one. That helps carry the romance forward to new generations, he believes.

“The main thing is, it’s been around for 60 years,” Hendricks said.

And while he agrees the Corvette is not a cheap proposition, they can be relatively accessible. Just last week, Hendricks said he sold a pickup truck for $58,000. “It’s just about in that same class,” he said.

The convention center is at Main and Fifth streets in downtown Dayton.

Hours are noon to 9 p.m. Thursday and Friday; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday; and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.

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