The Corvette Siren Song

by Marc Friedlander




Odysseus, on his epic voyage, made his crew put wax in their ears, but only theirs. He kept his own ears clear, and had the crew bind him to the mast. The purpose of this arrangment was to allow Odysseus to hear the mythic Song of the Sirens - the irresistable wailing that had lured countless seamen to their deaths on the rocks. With this arrangement, Odysseus would hear the Sirens and live to tell about it. The crew would be unable to hear - and would thus be immune to the song while Odysseus, lashed to the mast, would be unable to affect the course of the ship.

As they approached, Odysseus heard the Sirens singing their song and was irresistably drawn. He commanded his crew to go towards the sound (and to their deaths). They could not hear Odysseus any more than they could the Sirens, and when they were out of the Sirens range, they unwaxed their ears, unlashed Odysseus, and continued their voyage.

If a Corvette were involved, the outcome may have been different. The Corvette has its own Siren Song. It's irresistable.

It must also be said that a Corvette, for all its outstanding abilities, does have several weaknesses.  One is it's no damn good in the snow and another is it clouds your judgment.  Yes, Corvettes cloud people's judgment.  When you are in visual range of a Corvette, you will be irresistably drawn to it, despite any potential danger. It's the Corvette Siren Song.

A recent example
Me: I'm going skiing!  First time in years!  I'm so excited!
Now, let's see.
Should I take my ALL WHEEL DRIVE Honda HR-V up to the ski slope?  A car that delivers excellent traction and handling, even under poor driving conditions?  A sporty SUV that has tons of room for ski equipment, ample power, has high ground clearance for uneven terrain, gets good gas mileage, and is an ideal vehicle to take on a ski trip?

(The Corvette Siren Song sounds)

Nah, I'll take the Vette!




See what I mean about clouded judgment?
We Corvette folks just loathe to drive anything else except our Corvettes.

I could be getting ready to go into battle against heavy artillery.
Now let me see.  Hmmm.  Should I take the M1 Abrams massively heavy tank with the armor plating, the 120mm main gun, the machine guns, and the flame thrower - or should I take the Corvette?

(The Corvette Siren Song sounds)

I'll take the Corvette.  Leave the M1 Abrams.  Only decision is whether to take the top off the Vette and stow it in its cradle in the trunk, or not. Since I'm going into battle, guess I'll leave the top on. After all, you can't be too careful.




So - I took Li'l Red skiing, which turned out to be an hideously bad idea - especially as I have the ALL WHEEL DRIVE HR-V at my disposal.

Bear in mind I live in New Mexico - out in the high desert - I was headed to Sandia Peak ski area - summit at 10,679'.  The weather can change very quickly at that altitude. Rear wheel drive is not great in snow. Corvettes especially are known to be bad in the snow. So I take my Corvette to a ski resort, which is the one kind of place that tries its best to have a lot of snow. Why? It's the Siren Song.

I later came to wish I had taken Harv. It was practically made for ski trips. Wife could not believe it when she got up and went out to see Li'l Red gone, and Harv (our name for the HR-V) sitting there in its parking space.


The Corvette is the finest production car ever made, in my opinion.  It shows its strength on a good, dry, grippy, surface.  Tremendous rear end power coupled with excellent road holding is as close to heaven as you can get in a car.

As long as you stay on good roads that don't have snow on them.

But why would I find snow at a ski resort?




I 40 from Albuquerque to the exit for Sandia Peak was just fine.  No snow, all good road.  The legal limit is 75. Than can give you a lot of wiggle room, in a car that can go at least twice that. A sheer pleasure. Glad I took the Vette (I had the lack of forsight to imagine).

Things were fine, actually, until I left the interstate and started winding and wending my way up the narrow hill to the ski area base.  At that point the road became spotty with snow, which I was mostly able to avoid.  The higher I went the more snow there was on the road. It was a little hairy but I made it up to the parking lot, where there was enough snow that Li'l Red was spinning her rear wheels. I just managed to finesse her into the parking spot that the attendant was indicating. He pointed to the spot while a thought bubble over his head said-oooooooo(what an idiot).

Well I was here now. I knew I might have a spot of trouble leaving, later. Maybe I should have made sure I could move, but what was I going to do if I tried, and got it right out? Go home? For now I just decided to go enjoy the slopes and deal with whatever I had to deal with when the time came.

That time came when I returned some 6 hours later from the slopes. 




Walking back to 'Red, a guy was walking next to me and as we approached, his eyes lit up.

Him: Yours?

Me: Yes it is.

Him: Wow. Gorgeous.  I love the C6.  It's my favorite Corvette.  Um, how is it in the snow?

His question gave me a bit of pause.  In fact, the only experience I have with 'Red in the snow, is the few minutes I spent sliding in the parking lot early in the day.  I've never driven it in the snow at any other time - so I didn't have very much to go by to give an informed answer, now did I?

Me: Terrible.


He was walking with his girlfriend toward his big Suburban.  He was parked across from me.  There was snow all over the place.

Him: Well, I'll give you a push if you need me to.

Me: Hey thanks, but I'm hoping it won't be necessary.

He opens the back hatch of the Suburban, and began loading it up with his skiis.

I start 'Red up.  You know the sound.  I know the sound.  Everybody (who's lived) knows the sound.  The surging growl of a normally aspirated, 6.2L 436hp American Vfreaking8 Corvette engine.

Both he and gf look over from the Suburban.  I rev it up a few times.  Everyone smiles.  They give me the thumbs up. Man I (still) love this car (so far).

I like to warm 'Red up before I put her in gear (6 sp manual, btw).  She's idling.  I have a chance to look down the steep, icy hill I'll have to negotiate, but only if I can manage to get free from this parking space. I can see a short distance down - there are a few cars on the hill now and they are slowly picking their way down like hikers, giving it a lot of respect.

I had a Honda Civic a few cars ago.  This Civic was front wheel drive and it got stuck on an icy parking spot and I couldn't get it out for some time.  I finally got out, but it was stuck good.  And that was a Civic - with front wheel drive.  Now I'm in a Corvette with a notoriously brutish rear end.  I was keeping up my hopes that she would just pull back out of the spot.

Okay, warmed up, seat belt on, emergency brake released, rear view mirror check, side view mirror check, all clear, ready to go. I step on the clutch and push the short-throw gear shift lever into R.

I let out the clutch with my left foot and give the engine a splash of premium with my right.

Nothing happens.




I just thought of something while I was writing this.  It just occurred to me now, that I should have taken off the traction control.  That might have helped - but I didn't think to try it at the time.  All I tried to do was to get the car to move backwards by feathering the clutch up and down while alternately giving it a little gas, all of which was having zero effect.  The big wide tires couldn't get any grip on the surface.

(The Corvette Siren Song sounds)

Guy walks over from the Suburban.  He tells me he's going to try to push me back out of the spot.  He's going to put on his gloves so as not to put hand prints on my car.  Can you imagine?  Guy is going to risk bodily harm to help me, but wouldn't dream of marring the finish on my Corvette.

You see what I mean about the Corvette's magical ability to make people do insane things?

The guy puts on gloves.  Gets in front of 'Red and steps in between me and an old, non-descript car that's parked in the next row.  Guy braces one foot on bumper of old non-descript car.  My driver's window is rolled down so I can hear.

Girlfriend:  BE CAREFUL!

There must be some way to be careful when you're foolishly risking your life to push someone you don't know out of a parking space just because it's a Corvette C6, and the girlfriend was simply telling the guy to find that way. Understandable.

He has one foot on the car's bumper behind him.

He leans forward with both (gloved) hands on the front of my helpless, dead in the water - uh, snow, Corvette. He was hearing the Siren Song loud and clear.

Him:  On three.  ONE...TWO...THREE

He pushes as I give it some juice and let off clutch. 

Nothing.  We try again.  Nothing.  Oh, well, something.  The front bumper of old non-descript car where the guy had his foot braced is a little more bent than it was before.  But 'Red was not going anywhere.  Girlfriend urged more caution.  How was he supposed to be careful? Guy was putting an awful lot of faith in my ability to do the right thing at the right time in the right direction, with a very powerful car on a frictionless surface.  He very literally was risking his ass and I was fully aware of it.  But, I needed to get out, he was trying to help, and I know how to rock a car out of the snow, having been in this predicament many times in the past.

Me: Be careful.




We tried a few more times with the same result. I was thinking it was going to take 2 or 3 people to push me out. I was hoping another poor innocent soul would get within range of the Siren Song and rush in to help, heedless of the danger and effort required, wanting only to run over to the Corvette.

(The Corvette Siren Song sounds)

A young lady, carrying dirt on the end of her snowboard as one would carry chopped liver on a tray, suddenly appeared.  But instead of chopped liver, it was a clump of reddish brown mud on the end of her nice snowboard.

The Siren Song undoubtedly had produced this miracle, known as a "deus ex machina", in Greek drama.

Lady goes to my car's rear. She's laying some dirt down under my wheel to give me traction. She has total faith that I won't suddenly start spinning my wheel. It's the Siren Song. It must be.

Lady: Wait now - my hand is right under your wheel.

Good, at least she said something. But I'm not touching the pedals or the gear shift for anything.

Lady brings a few more loads of dirt on her snowboard.  It was like she was bringing tray after tray of hors d'oeuvres. I was thanking everyone profusely, of course.

Me to Lady (after thanking profusely):  You know something, it's the first time I was ever so grateful to a woman for dishing me the dirt.

She laughed. Luckily. I never know when to crack a joke at a deus ex machina in a desperate situation. Not that much you can find on line about it.

Okay now...dirt is packed under the pusher is in front, tensed for action like an olympic power lifter - his foot once again braced on dented bumper of old non-descript car, leaning forward into Li'l Red, hands on my front bumper.

And one...two...THREEEEEEE.

Clutch, gas, spinning wheels, moving...moving.

Li'l Red scrunches back a few feet - enough to get out of the relative safety of the parking spot, and enabling me to drive out onto the much scarier, far more dangerous, steep and narrow icy hill!!


Hills and other topographic features, as well as forces of nature, are somehow immune to the Corvette's siren song. 

But, luck - now luck is another thing entirely.  Luck smiles on Corvette owners.  It has to - or else how did they ever get a Corvette? See?

I made it down the hill and back to the interstate, and all the way home, stopping (of course) to get Li'l Red washed in Albuquerque - and at the Breaking Bad car wash!




I was lucky that time. I'll never take Li'L Red on a skiing trip again. A mountain biking trip, a white water canoe trip, a fly fishing trip, a whale watching trip - I'll probably take Li'L Red. I'll take her almost anytime I hear the Siren Song.


But never never again on a skiing trip.