In the Rearview Mirror: Helping friends and family

July 30, 2020

Hagerty Drivers Club Magazine
The Service Department

I have the honor of owning a 1915 Ford Model T that was delivered new to its first owner in Traverse City, Michigan. It is still painted in the traditional black, still has its brass radiator and crank start. Then there are the quirky Model T controls: the hand throttle, the high/low and reverse pedals, the trembler coils. I love mentally preparing to operate this car. Just think: This is its 105th year.

Whenever I drive the Ford—with its top speed of 27 mph—I think less about its intrinsic qualities as a car and more about what it has been through since 1915: World War I, the Spanish flu and countless other epidemics, the Great Depression, World War II, the Korean War, dozens of recessions and crises, and so much more.

I am sure that during the lifetimes of the Model T and its owners, some of the challenges in the world seemed insurmountable. And yet, here it is, and here we are. The car has survived, and so have we.

Resilience in life is important. So are friends. If this crisis has made us realize one thing, it’s how much we miss and need our friends in the collector vehicle world.
Hagerty has been doing a few cool things to keep our friends close.  First, to help small repair, paint, and body shops weather the storm, we created a “Restore the Roar” program to give $5000 grants to as many as we could—over 100 as of this writing.

Next, since so many big car events have been canceled, we’ve launched a series of self-driving tours on the Rallista app, which is free to download. Look for the Hagerty Touring Series section. New routes are be- ing added weekly. We also launched a new series, the Weekly Dose of Cars, full of fun activities for car people young and old to enjoy while we are sheltering at home.

As we were pivoting this spring to better serve the collective Hagerty family, we also had an opportunity to make some magic happen for one very special Corvette fan in Tacoma, Washington: a 70-year-old terminally ill man named Larry Lee who has loved Vettes since the day he bought his first back in 1976. Larry was on the very long waiting list to get the new mid-engine Corvette C8. “Can you help me move up the list?” he asked Hagerty Media’s Jack Baruth. Our team jumped on the phone with General Motors. Yup, they said, they were happy to help. A Corvette dealer from Connecticut and transportation company Reliable Carriers quickly offered their assistance as well.

The story doesn’t end there, though. On delivery day, there was a surprise in Larry’s driveway along with the C8. The good folks at LeMay, America’s Car Museum—a spiritual home for vintage cars in the Pacific Northwest—brought a 1976 Corvette, just like the one Larry had back in the day.

Larry, of course, was overjoyed. The ’76 Vette brought back a ton of great memories for him. The new one, in Long Beach Red, has been a lot of fun to drive in the here and now, which is all any of us really has, right? Thank you, Larry, for letting us fulfill your dream, and for the reminder about what this is all about. In the end, we are just stewards and caretakers of the cars we love—and of each other.

Now, what’s that starting procedure, again, for the Model T?

Onward and upward.