Photos by John Gunnell
In the April 25th issue of Old Cars there was a story about the Kammback Corvette. I immediately did a double take as I was putting an eyeball on the final layout before it left for press. Was that a sorcerer flanked by airbrushed demons on the hood that I saw? Emblazoned across the front valance was “Sorcerer II” in its trippy ‘70s glory. As my eyes made their way across the page I noticed that not only did this ‘Vette have a freaked-out paint job, it also was a wagon! Or, as I saw it, an amalgamation of fiberglass and wagon badassness.
I know what you’re probably thinking: Why is this guy writing a blog about this garish monstrosity? He must be a little off to be writing about a wagon Corvette with a sorcerer airbrushed on the hood? I get it, and I can appreciate that sentiment (it wouldn’t be the first time I have been accused of being a “little off”). For those of you in the “for the love of God burn that thing” camp, I apologize. For those of you who are still with me, I applaud your willingness to go along for the ride. This ‘Vette is perfect in every way in my opinion. Let me explain why.
I was born in 1972. When this car was created, I was more than likely only a twinkle in the eye and a bottle of Boones wine away from entering this world. Nevertheless, I remember my days as a child of the ‘70s with fondness. Even though this Corvette rolled off the line in 1968, this custom job “Vette was like me, a child of the early 1970s.
Oh the 1970s. The van culture was in full swing and flower power was letting its freak flag fly. The sight of wizards and outlandish paint jobs was tantalizing to my impressionable mind. Even the Big 3 eventually let their hair down and gave us Phoenix, Cobras, and strobe graphics on their sheet metal. Hell, it fit in nicely with the fantasy/glam pop culture of the day. This was the same world that brought us Ziggy Stardust and TV’s cinematic masterpiece “Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park.” In todays’ terms all this appears cartoonish and dated. To a kid growing up in the ‘70s it was the epitome of awesomeness.
This ‘Vette was the embodiment of coolness of its day. It was like looking at a rolling Molly Hatchet album cover with side pipes blaring out their cacophony for the unsuspecting world to hear. It made no apologies, and was in your face. To own a car of this caliber you would have had to wear the obligatory white T-shirt two sizes too small with a ratty pair of cut-off jean shorts that were way too short, even for the day, to accentuate the look. You would have been so cool that you couldn’t be bothered with people knowing who you were so polarized aviator glasses were a must. Did I mention there would have had to be lots and lots of body hair everywhere? To pull the whole persona off you would also have needed a bitchin’ feathered hairdo and at least one gold chain. You would have scored extra points if you had a half-chewed toothpick or match stick hanging from your bottom lip. Your eight-track would have been blaring said Molly Hatchet or possibly even a bit of something off of Edgar Winter’s “They Only Come Out at Night.” This car was not disco in any way! To have the confidence and look to drive the “Sorcerer II” you would have had to be THE MAN!
To me the ‘Vette conjures up the perfect storm of 1970s nostalgia. A time that perhaps is not as deserving of my candy-coated sentiments. The ‘70s had their fair share of problems, but time seems to gloss over the negatives and idealizes the positives. Such is the case of the Kaamback Corvette. Looking at it today, some people might feel a tad bit of nausea inching its way upwards to the back of their throat with the over-the-top graphics and perceived fiberglassed blasphemy. They are missing the whole draw of this car. The car is more of a shout out to a simpler time without cellphones, social media, computers and the daily barrage of horrifying news sandwiched between the mundane ramblings of the mindless celebrity flavor of the day. This was a time when daily life wasn’t thrust upon us at a maddening pace. Our news still came from newspapers, magazines and the nightly anchors from our three broadcast stations. Life was easier to consume, and we were able to take time to breathe and actually talk with people face to face. We needed less “stuff” to live the good life. Our waiting with baited breath for the newest upgrade to our electronic baubles wouldn’t take place for another 25 years or so.
The Kaamback Corvette is a representation of the heart and soul of the ‘70s. It serves as a time capsule of coolness and swagger. Would I drive this ‘Vette around town today? I absolutely would, and with no apologies. The odd looks and subtle jokes would be well worth the trip down memory lane. Crank the windows down and blast some Uriah Heep and tap into the ‘70s power of the “Sorcerer!”