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January 28, 2022

The Last Blog, The Last New Car

Some of you may have read that after nearly 30 years I will be retiring as CEO at the end of February, 2022.  It’s been a great run and I can honestly say that I have loved the job and the people that I have worked with.  I don’t really look at the board and staff as co-workers, to me they have been good friends and family.  It will be with a great deal of sadness when I turn off the office lights for the last time.

If you have read any of my blogs, you know that I’m a car guy through and through.  Like many car guys, I have a theme to my interest (or madness).  Some guys like muscle cars or cars of the 50s.  My thing has always been sports cars.  It started when I was 21 years old and spotted a 1973 black MGB in a neighbor’s yard for sale.  That car led to Triumphs, RX7s, Miatas, Corvettes, Datsuns, Healeys, Porsches, etc.

The first car I purchased when I moved to Florida in 1992 was a 1985 Porsche 911 Targa.  It was on the Citrus and Chemical Bank’s repo lot.  I made an offer for $11,111.11, and bought my first Porsche.  Like most of my car purchases, it needed work.  I recovered the dash and top, put on new wheels and tires, fixed some wiring and regrettably sold it for $18,000 to purchase a 1992 Mazda RX7 twin turbo.  I eventually started unkindly referring to the RX7 as my “ticket machine.”

In more recent years I have been fortunate enough to begin collecting and restoring old sports cars and even more recently could afford to occasionally purchase a new car.  Over the past ten years, I have dabbled with a new Mustang Boss 302 and even a Jaguar F-Type.  Ironically, I didn’t really enjoy either car and eventually sold both of them.  Neither had the character or “fun” of driving a classic sports car.

However, I have done it again, but I think this time it will be a keeper and probably my last new car.  About 3 years ago, I got on the list to purchase a new Corvette.  The C8 Corvette is a beautiful car and a relative bargain, with a starting price of around $60k.  After almost a year on the waiting list, I got cold feet and dropped off the list, then I went back on the list only to drop off once again.  It’s a bargain, but still a lot of money.

Earlier in 2021, after I announced my retirement, I decided I needed to plan a retirement gift for myself.  I needed something to look forward to as I approached the end of this chapter in my life.  The obvious answer was a new Corvette, I had lusted after one for years, and now I had the excuse to justify ordering one.

After nine months of being on a waiting list, I got the call in December of 2021 that the dealership was placing my order.  It only took another month for the salesman to call to let me know the car was ready to be picked up.  The timing could not have been more perfect.  I took delivery of the car the day after our awesome board granted me a generous retirement gift.  I love it when a plan comes together!

Signing off,

Kevin Jones