Journal: Drivers' Cinema: Corvette Summer

Drivers’ Cinema: Corvette Summer

By Andrew Schneider
January 16, 2014

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.

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Olivia Clark
Olivia Clark(@olivia_clark)
7 months ago

This was surely a masterpiece of the great director and screenwriter of all-time Matthew Robbin’s. I have read some books of Mathew’s at one of my favorite book of him is Grande Prêmio do Cinema Brasileiro for Best Adapted Screenplay this was pretty impressive writing wise and fiction wise too.

Jim Bair
Jim Bair(@5280jb)
8 years ago

Saw this car cruising through the Jack-in-the-Box drive through near the Seattle-Tacoma airport in the summer of ’78 or ’79. In the flesh, it looked very much like a kit car put together by a high school shop class.

Sid Widmer
Sid Widmer(@sid)
8 years ago

Just when my eyes had healed from the trauma there it is again. The most hideous Corvette ever.

Adam Holter
Adam Holter(@aholter90)
8 years ago

Decent flick, nasty car.;) That hood, though…wow. I mean, it’s a solid ’70s car-culture-piece for sure, but thank God a lot of those styling trends haven’t carried on til today.