Sunday, May 24, 2015
University of Dayton Student "Auto" Biography -- Brett Gross and his "Big Red" Silverado
My “Big Red Vette”
“Hey Brett, come look at what I just drove home,” was a common phrase I heard as my Dad arrived home for his lunch breaks growing up. My father, the general manager of the local Chevrolet dealership is always bringing home cool new cars that came through the dealership, whether it be Chevrolet’s newest vehicle or some cool trade in. The dealership, which is owned by my godfather, Rolland Purifoy, has always for as long as I can remember, been the top Corvette dealership in the state of Colorado, so whenever I heard that phrase from my father, I always hoped to see some cool new Vette sitting in the driveway. I had grown up around the Corvette, and always dreamed about having one of my own, and once I turned 16, my heart was set on getting one.
As you can imagine, my Mom was not thrilled of the idea of her speed obsessed son owning a rear wheel drive, high powered muscle car, especially in a state where four-wheel drive is basically a must. So other options were explored. I looked at a lot of cars, but was only ever interested it the “dangerous” ones. After about a month of searching, my top three cars were a slick black 1968 Impala SS, a blue 1969 Camaro SS with the added “bonus” of pink flames, and a yellow 1989 Porsche 911. My Dad was with all for them but again, Mom was not very pleased. So sadly, I was relegated for a time to the family’s 2001 Cadillac STS, the “old man’s” vehicle that was continuously plagued with electrical problems that prevented the car from starting, which was about twice a week. I searched and searched for about five months, but this automotive enthusiast could not find anything that pleased the folks.
Then December rolled around. Christmas was fast approaching and so was the heavy Colorado snow. My Dad, being in the car business, had his own small collection of vehicles. At the time it was a 1977 Porsche 911 Carrera 3.0, two Cadillac STS’s, two Cadillac Eldorado’s from the 90’s, and one car, or truck rather, that sat in storage for about 5 years, a truck I had somehow almost forgotten about. Well, this big red truck was one of those cars my Dad brought home one day from work, and when I saw it I thought it was the coolest thing I had ever seen. It was 2003 when my Dad pulled up in a slightly used Chevrolet Silverado SS of the same year. He brought my Mom and I to look at it. I thought it was the coolest truck in the world. It was red, my favorite color, had a clean look, sat lower than most trucks, and when the engine revved up, sounded like a beast letting out a low, rumbling growl. Three days in a row he brought the truck home, spent some time cleaning it up, and then after a few days absence, I came home from school and found it in the garage. My Dad bought it. It was ours.
For about a year my Mom drove the Silverado, taking me to school and soccer practice in it. It was always a great talking point with my friends, bragging to them that “Yeah, that’s my Mom’s truck,” definitely not your normal soccer mom car. But like all good things, there is something that always can spoil the fun. In this case, the economy tanked. Gas prices rose and well, a truck that gets 17mpg and only runs on 91 octane or higher can be a bit of a wallet breaker. So with that, and my Dad not yet willing to sell the truck, it went into storage. And there it sat, and sat, and sat, only to be brought out for the occasional major snowstorm or run to bring over the Christmas decorations from storage. So on a snowy week before Christmas in 2009, my Dad and I hopped into his white Eldorado and drove to the storage unit, swapped the Caddy with the SS, loaded up the decorations and headed home. After Christmas had passed, I expected the usual. Load up the truck, pull it into storage, unpack the truck, hook it up to the trickle charger and leave it there till next Christmas. Well, as we finished unloading the decorations, my Dad decided take the truck home. Slightly confused as to why we were not pulling out the Eldorado I got back in the truck and we started to head home.
During the drive back I asked my Dad why he didn’t get his Eldorado out. He told me that he thought it best to drive the truck around a few more days, saying it was not good for it to be sitting all that time in the storage unit. “Okay” I thought, “sounds reasonable.” We pulled into the garage and my Dad popped the hood and said to me, “Hey Brett, can you check the oil really fast?” Easy enough, I grabbed a rag, popped the hood and checked the oil. “All good,” I yelled to my Dad as I closed the hood. And what happened next is something forever burned into my memory. As soon as I looked up, I saw a set of keys being tossed at me. I caught them, looking at my Dad confused, not sure what he wanted me do with them. Just as I was about to ask, he looked at me and said, “Brett, she is all yours.” “Wait, hold on, are you serious?” is what came out of my mouth. “Mom and I talked and think you should have her. She is all yours now,” was my Dad’s response. I could not believe it, the coolest truck I had ever seen, the truck I sadly almost forgot about, was given to me. My Dad walked back inside the house and all I could do was stand there, shocked that my parents trusted me with such a beautiful machine. I could not believe it, she was mine.
Since that day, “Big Red” has not left my side. I have learned a lot driving her, working on her, and taking care of her though all years and the distances traveled from Denver to Dayton. I always dreamed of a Corvette, but I can honestly say that she is better than any Corvette I could own. I always joke that the Silverado is my “Vette with a bed,” one, because it is obviously a truck, and two, we have been known to keep up with and smoke a few Corvettes that have tried to mess with us on the highway. But the coolest thing about my truck is the lessons I have learned in it and the experiences I have had in it. That 383hp machine has saved me a time or two, from a careless semi-truck driver that almost flattened us to methodically pushing our way through blizzards in the Rocky Mountains. In any other little car without all-wheel drive, or the “get up and go” that she has I would have surely been in a wreck or stranded in the cold. But the way I learned to drive and my trust in Big Red has kept me from a visit to the junk yard, the hospital, and possibly far worse. She has stayed reliable, kept me, my friends, and my family safe and has given me many great memories to cherish.
Without realizing it, the truck was the vehicle of my dreams. It was right there in front of me for a long time, maybe slightly out of view at times, but it was there. So I guess what I am trying to get at is the bigger picture. We have all heard that sometimes, the things you are looking for most are right there in front of you. Whether it be in problem solving, business, relationships, or in this case, the simple desire for a fast, cool, first car; a lot of the things you really want or need are right in front of your nose. Life is funny in that way, and I have found that this has been a reoccurring theme in mine. Whenever I have faced a struggle, been angry, sad, or confused, I have found that the answer is usually right in front of me. So in just the simple instance of my first car, I learned a valuable lesson, to look at what I already have, what has already been given to me, because nine times out of ten, it is exactly what you have been searching for all along] .