A courtship and enduring marriage revolve around Chevy’s sleek roadster
Did a yellow 1965 Corvette lead to the marriage — now running past 40 years — of Jim and Denise Cowart? Maybe not, but a Corvette never hurts in affairs of the heart.
In 1972, Denise’s VW bug was stalled in high water on 23rd Street in Galveston.
Her father called a young man he knew at an Exxon station, and Jim Cowart arrived in the yellow Corvette that rainy day.
He rescued Denise and the bug and a courtship ensued, which included tooling around Galveston in that yellow ’65.
The couple wed in 1973, and, as with their courtship, their early married years revolved around Corvettes.
The newlywed islanders owned a pair of ’60s-era Corvettes — a roadster and a coupe. They helped found the Lone Star Vettes car club, which drew members from among other young couples with a bug for Chevy’s sleek sports cars.
“It was just a group of young couples who liked to hang around and drive Corvettes,” Denise Cowart said. “We did car shows and fundraisers; it was a lot of fun.”
The car club was to be short-lived, however, perhaps inevitably.
“The kids started to come, and the Vettes all went,” Jim Cowart said.
The Cowarts, who now live in Santa Fe, didn’t give up on classic American cars because they had children, however, they just moved on to those with back seats — ’55 and ’56 Bel Airs, for example.
Also inevitably, their children grew up, moved out and the Cowarts found themselves able to get back into the Corvette game. That return was just as romantic as those initial dating drives.
“I bought this car in 2003,” Jim Cowart said, gesturing toward a Ermine White 1964 Corvette Stingray roadster. “I gave it to Denise for a 30th anniversary present.”
The well-preserved ’64 Stingray came with Chevy’s luxury package — power steering and brakes and air-conditioning — which had just been introduced in 1963, according to Hemmings Motor News.
The ’63-’64 models marked a substantial evolution in the Corvette’s styling and performance, especially in the addition of independent rear suspension. Improvements in those years moved the Corvette into the ranks of bona fide sports cars and may have saved the model from being canceled, according to Hemmings.
The year models offered three optional V8 engines, all 327 cubic inches, with horsepower ranging from 250 in the base model to 360 for the top-shelf fuel-injected version. Fuel injection added a whopping $430 to the price.
The Cowarts’ ’64, which probably sold new for just less than $4,000, left the factory with a 300 horsepower 327, blue paint and a white leather interior, all since replaced.
It’s now sporting a 1990-vintage 350 cubic inch V8 pickup truck motor with cylinders bored .030 over stock and outfitted with a roller camshaft with more lift than Chevy gave the original. The cam adds a nice lope to the V8 rumble piped through stock mufflers.
Jim Cowart calculates the 350 is probably pushing 360 horsepower; it’s mated to an automatic transmission and pushing a curb weight of less than 3,100 pounds.
While the Cowarts’ ’64 is a looker, it’s not the show, but the go, they like best about it.
“It’s just a nice car to drive,” Denise Cowart said.