MOM THREW OUT MY ’63 CORVETTE

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Tomorrow is Mother’s Day so that is the day we all conjure up fond memories of Mom—unless she tossed out your favorite toy.

Cue the flashback to Christmas 1963.

Jerry Sutherland

I was like any kid back in ‘63 because I woke up at the crack of 4 am and headed downstairs to check out what Santa had left—even with my sketchy good behavior record–I knew I had a shot at something pretty cool. 4 am was pretty early, so my parents threw a flag on the play and sent me back to bed.

I waited another two hours and hit the basement—they called them rumpus rooms back then—now they call them rec rooms. It was a good haul that year. Not surprisingly, there was a big automotive theme to the Santa stuff, including a toy gas station–but the big deal was a remote control, split-window 1963 Corvette.

The 2nd gen Vette was brand new in ’63 so this miniature version rocked my kid world. It made every other car that year look like something Fred Flintstone would drive. This was a pretty basic remote-control toy because it was attached to the car via a set of wires. There were two basic functions—forward and reverse, plus it had working headlights and a horn.

A kid today would probably see this primitive toy in a different light—he’d be intrigued in the same way he’d be intrigued by a full-size ’63 Corvette, but it would never replace his Xbox. It wouldn’t even replace his phone–but back in 1963, the real Vette and the toy Vette were cutting-edge technology to a kid who was born decades before genuine hi-tech took over society.   

I did what every kid did with toys back in 1963—I wore the batteries down so fast the car wouldn’t move by mid-afternoon. No amount of pleading would convince my folks to find a battery store on Christmas Day—even if it was possible to find any stores open on Christmas Day 1963. I solved the problem by pirating some batteries from my dad’s flashlight—I’m pretty sure he wondered why his D-cells only lasted a few minutes.

My brother Jim got a cool remote-control car that Christmas too—it was a 1963 Cadillac convertible with all the functions of the toy Corvette, plus it had working steering. The Corvette would thump it in a straight-line run, but Jim could avoid a massive crash into a wall—it was a pretty good trade-off.  

Toys are like anything else in a kid’s world. They get a nano-second of attention, but the first time they don’t work is a make-or-break point in their survival. The remote-control units use thread-sized wires to power the cars and we were rough and tumble kids, so they broke.

That’s when the toy Vette hit the closet and that’s also where Mom entered into the plot. I wasn’t a bright kid, so—several months later I noticed the Corvette disappeared.

Mom got pretty vague, and I never associated her with the disappearance, but years later I found out she purged stuff that she considered past its due date. My beloved little toy Vette never had a chance.

I saw the same toy listed on an online auction a few weeks ago. The guy was nearly giving it away because it had no battery cover, and it was missing its box. Those things didn’t matter to me because mine wasn’t mint, and I broke the battery cover on it too.

The little Vette arrived last week, and it was in decent shape—plus everything worked except one headlight. I have to admit—it didn’t rock my world like it did back in Christmas 1963 but it’s still pretty cool. PS—old toys are like old cars—the horn and the headlight quit working.     

My Mom passed away back in 1989, but if she was still around, she’d never get anywhere near this one because now I know why the last one disappeared. Happy Mother’s Day.               

Jerry Sutherland

By: Jerry Sutherland

Jerry Sutherland is a veteran automotive writer with a primary focus on the collector car hobby. His work has been published in many outlets and publications, including the National Post, Calgary Herald, Edmonton Journal, Ottawa Citizen, Montreal Gazette, Saskatoon StarPhoenix, Regina Leader-Post,  Vancouver Sun and The Truth About Cars. He is also a regular contributor to Auto Roundup Publications.

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