Richard Chappell, a retired employee of the Atlanta Wire Works who lives with his wife in Senoia, recently did something he had never done before: He bought a new Chevrolet Corvette.
Chappell, who admits he has been a “Corvette lover” for at least the last 40 years, decided after owning three Corvettes that he had purchased “used” that he wanted to have a new one that had never been owned by anyone. So, he went to Cronic Chevrolet in Griffin and started talking about the kind of features he wanted on his new Corvette.
“We got everything we could get on it,” Richard laughs. “It’s called the Corvette Grand Sport Coupe and it is only the second time they have made this model. It has special insignias and stitching on the headrests, as well as more power than I will ever need under the hood.”
The vehicle comes standard with a 430 horsepower LS3 V8 engine and six piston front brakes. It has special wheels and body work, with flared fenders. The vehicle is also equipped with the optional Heritage package. Like almost all GM vehicles, it comes with the comprehensive OnStar in-vehicle security, communications, and diagnostic system and is equipped to receive the XM satellite radio system.
And, once Chappell and his wife, Doris, drove their new tomato red Corvette back from Bowling Green Assembly Plant — where every Corvette is now made — they came back to Cronic to further individualize their vehicle with Genuine Corvette Accessories. Those accessories are designed to enhance the appearance and extend the functionality of the car.
Chappell said he had first gone to another dealership last Fall when he and his wife decided to get a new Corvette. “But, we could not agree on a price, so we went to Cronic Chevrolet in Griffin where I had once purchased an S-10 pickup. The people at Cronic,” he said, “could not have been nicer … they helped me with the entire purchase process.
“I sat down at the computer with Doug Starr, the sales manager there, and we built the car we wanted,” Chappell recalls. “Then we agreed on the price, put in the order, and waited for the assembly plant to contact us to tell us to come pick it up.”
That call came in early January and the Chappells went to get their car. At the plant, they received a personal tour and saw firsthand how the Corvettes were made. After watching the manufacturing process, they toured the adjacent National Corvette Museum and they were given a photo album of the “birth” of their Corvette.
The first 300 Corvettes were handmade in Flint Michigan in the 1953 model year, before production was moved to St. Louis.
General Motors purchased a Chrysler plant that had made air conditioning units in Bowling Green, Kentucky, and completely remodeled it, doubling the size of the previous facility. The first Corvettes rolled off the line in June 1981 and every one of the luxury sports cars has been made there since. The plant was gutted and completely redesigned for the fifth generation of Corvettes in 1996. It employs some 400 United Automobile workers production technicians who assemble these vehicles on a four-day, ten-hour shift production schedule. The plant is located on I-65 at Exit 28.
Reflecting on the personal tour he and his wife took of the facility, Chappell noted that it was “completely high-tech” and made extensive use of robotics. He called his tour “very interesting” and said, “I could have watched for hours.”
“If I am every up there again, I will certainly go back,” Chappell said. “It is well worth the trip.”
Chappell said the facility makes 80 cars an hour and, “I understand they are now going on overtime due to the demand.”
Cronic Chevrolet was founded by the late J.A. Cronic in 1975. It is a full-service dealership and provides warranty service work for all GM vehicles. The dealership also sells and services Nissans. In 1996, Mr. Cronic and his daughter, Wanda, opened a second dealership, Cronic Buick GMC Chrysler Jeep, and she was named the dealer there. Upon Mr. Cronic’s death in 2003, Mrs. Howell became the dealer at Cronic Chevrolet and Cronic Nissan as well.
Cronic Chevrolet is located at 2676 North Expressway and the telephone number is 770-228-1326. Cronic Buick GMC Chrysler Jeep is located across the street at 2515 North Expressway and the telephone number is 770-227-4271. Cronic Nissan is located at 2624 North Expressway and the telephone number is 678-967-2277. The web address for all three dealerships is www.croniccars.com.