Drivers’ Cinema: Corvette Summer
Directed by Matthew Robbins, Corvette Summer (1978) is about an eighteen-year-old car enthusiast named Kenneth (Mark Hamill). Heavily involved in his high-school’s auto body club, he works to create a masterpiece out of a totaled Stingray. The team of students sculpts the body beautifully, accenting the hood and re-spraying the car impressively. The car is inexplicably converted into a right-hand drive American muscle car, which is just strange. Once the ‘Vette is completed, the team heads out to cruise Van Nuys, California, with all the other gear-heads. Observers of ’70s muscle-car culture will love the scene. As the team members take turns driving the car, one of the students ends up having the car stolen when he stops to buy the teacher a soda. And that’s where the story really begins as Kenneth is determined to get the car back, no matter the cost.
The film takes the audience on a chase, searching every conceivable place for the car. The relationships formed along the way are the most entertaining aspect of the film. For example, Kenneth’s encounters with female-lead, prostitute Vanessa (Annie Potts) offer endless back and forth banter as she helps him search for his beloved creation. The film doesn’t feature many other automobiles but one notable inclusion is a 1971 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am.
My favorite part of the movie is the way in which Kenneth talks about the Stingray. There is something about falling in love with a car that only true petrolheads understand. Corvette Summer creates a very believable and relatable character. We know we’d do anything and everything possible to recover our car if it was stolen (knock on wood). While it is an object, having invested the time and energy and having created memories with it, the car becomes an irreplaceable part of you. Let us know what you think about it in the comments below.
Click here to pick up the DVD on Amazon.
Click here to check out the vintage Corvette Summer movie posters on eBay.