I have a new stealth vehicle (ha)

By Steve Estes

At long last I am travelling around incognito.

For the last 13 years I have driven a bright red Jeep Wrangler of some kind. People I didn’t know would know me by that vehicle.

And that was OK. I never lost my ride in the parking lot, although occasionally there were some mix ups in getting into the right red Jeep.

I never was in stealth mode during a heavy rain. Almost everyone could see that fiery red vehicle bearing down on them.

And I felt safe in that unibody steel frame.

Jeeps have served me well over the years. My first Wrangler was a 1979 TJ with no toys, barely a radio and a half top that got me wet when it rained.

My first Jeep vehicle was a Commanche pick up truck. I worked late one evening and came home to flip on the tube and watch a little late-night comedy to wind down from a stressful day.

On the TV was an ad for the Commanche. I’ll never forget the ad. It was a video of a black truck with fog lights and a rear roll bar coming over the hill on a foggy night with lights blazing.

I told myself that I was going to buy that truck. The next day I headed to the car lot, traded off the little Ford I was driving that was pretty much useless even for a small pick up and came home with a new Commanche.

From there I went to another Commanche truck and then back in time to the old Wrangler. Every one of those vehicles had the old straight 6-cylinder motor with excessive torque and lousy gas mileage. But with the right traction, I could slap those things into bulldog gear and pull down a house.

From the old Jeep to the red Wrangler, to the next red Wrangler. I never put less than 100,000 miles on any of them, and they all ran impeccably the day I traded them off, just like this last one.

But my lovely wife has been saying since we adopted our grandson that we need a four-door vehicle. Finally, when the current Wrangler hit 230,000 miles I decided that she might be right.

So we took the Jeep down to the car lot. I had every intention of trading it for another Wrangler with four doors. And then I discovered what I thought was the unthinkable. Jeep had stopped using the straight six.

I was devastated. I couldn’t think of functioning in a Wrangler without a straight six. It seemed blasphemous.

So I did the unthinkable again, I allowed myself to be talked into a Jeep SUV. It’s still Jeep technology, but it’s not the same.

So let me set the stage a little.

When Holly and I met, I was told by most of my family that I was going through my mid-life crisis. I was too young for that, and smart enough to know a really good thing when I found it.

A week after we brought the Jeep home, my lovely wife said we needed to put her Camaro on the market. I thought she was thinking of putting me back in an older Wrangler with a straight six.

Boy was I wrong.

After a few days of secretive phone calls, she tells me that it’s time to put me back in a vehicle that “would rock my world.”

I thought she meant another Jeep. I was OK with that.

But that’s not what she had in mind.

I love her for so many reasons.

We came to work last Monday and she disappeared to the bank. Then she had me travel to a house here on Big Pine and when I saw what was in the driveway, I broke out in tears.

There, sitting pristine and pretty, was a bright yellow vehicle the likes of which I had thought I would never own.

Sleek. Sporty. Sexy. And loaded with power.

There, right before my eyes, eyes which couldn’t believe what they were seeing, was a bright yellow 1977 Corvette Coupe.

And she told me it was mine. I almost fainted.

I drove all manner of muscle car when I was young, but never a ‘Vette. I have raced Dodge, AMC, and Chevrolet cars on some of the fastest dirt tracks and straightest strips in the Midwest. But never in a ‘Vette.

And with a sheepish smile, my lovely wife turned to me, and harkening back to our early days together says….

“For your real mid-life crisis, you didn’t get a red Corvette. You got a red head. And now the red head has gotten you the ‘Vette.”

Have I said that I love her for so many reasons?

So when you see a loud, sleek, bright yellow ‘Vette tooling through town, I will be traveling incognito with a grin that won’t stop and an accelerator foot just itching to tromp on the pedal.

But I won’t. I promise.

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