Mary Carol Plott’s Corvette Personal Passion Story
by Scott Teeters as republished from Vette Vues – You can enjoy Part 1 of the story (John Meyerhoff’’s story), HERE.
Dateline: 8.11.15 – Last month we told you about Lake Placid, Florida Corvette couple John Meyerhoff and Mary Carol Plott and their stable of driver Corvettes. Before the C7 Corvette came out, John had one of each generation Corvette! Between John and Mary Carol they have nine Corvettes (five are John’s and four are Mary Carol’s), but not all nine are in Florida. John also has a place in upstate New York.
When it comes to performance cars and Corvettes, what is usually the case is that when a couple gets together, at first, it’s the guy that’s the “car guy.” Yes, there are exceptions, but “generally speaking” performance cars are a guy-thing. For most gals, it takes a while to warm up to machines. But that’s not Mary Carol. The car bug got a hold of her back in 1965 and never let go.
In late 1965 Mary Carol took delivery of a new 1966 427/390 Super Sport Impala Convertible with the then-new, 3-speed Turbo-Hydramatic transmission. Super Sport Impalas were well-appointed, handsome full-size cars, and with the 427 and drop-top, it was a beauty, and a beast. The L36 Mark IV 427 had a single four-barrel carb, hydraulic lifters, 10.25:1 compression and was rated at 390-horsepower and 470 lb/ft. While on paper the L36 looked “down” 35-hp from the solid-lifter Corvette version, it was a genuine torque-monster.
So, what’s a pretty young lady living in Northfield, Ohio going to do with all the horsepower and torque, go cruising? No way! Mary Carol went drag racing at her local drag strip, Thompson Drag Raceway. “I made sure the car had a really good tune-up, borrowed a set of slicks, and for two years was undefeated in Stock Eliminator class. I really loved drag racing that car!”
Around the same time, Mary Carol was going to college to learn accounting. These were the pre-computer days when accounting and bookkeeping was done on paper with an adding machine. Mary Carol took a part-time job at a local Sears Store that turned out to be life-changing decision, as she spent her entire working career with Sears. Looking for adventure, Mary Carol took an accounting job with Sears in California. In the ‘60s, California was THE place to be.
After settling into her new life, one day she happened upon what was for her, a stunningly beautiful car. At a local Chevrolet dealer, she feasted her eyes upon a Goodwood Green 1967 427 Corvette Roadster, with a 4-speed, side-pipes, and aluminum wheels. That was IT! She traded in her ’66 427 Impala convertible, thus beginning her love affair with Corvettes. Unfortunately, this was the time when Corvettes were the car most likely to be stolen, with insurance companies taking massive advantage of the situation. One day Mary Carol came out of the office at the end of the day and her Corvette was gone.
The job at the Sears office in California lasted until 1970 when Mary Carol was transferred back to Ohio and along from her belongings; she brought back her the itch for another Corvette. Mary Carol’s father worked as a salesman at a local Chevrolet dealership and helped her out with her itching problem. In 1971 she took delivery of a War Bonnet Yellow (available only in ’71 and ’72) 350/270 Corvette convertible. The base-engine roadster was nicely appointed with a 4-speed transmission, power steering, power brakes, air conditioning, and AM/FM radio. While the car isn’t a high-winding LT-1 or a stump-puller big-block 454, it was a very nice daily driver.
And drive, she did. While Mary Carol did not know it, Zora Arkus-Duntov wanted “his customers” to ENJOY their Corvette. As a daily driver, Mary Carol did just that and by 1975 when she married her husband, David Plott, the car was beginning to show signs of use. Fortunately for Mary Carol and her Corvette, David was a car guy and started what turned out to be a long restoration project that took eight years, with the help from John Drahos of Corvette Conspiracy, in Cleveland, Ohio. In the mean time, she and David had other nice cars and trucks as daily drivers, but when Corvettes are in your blood, there’s always that Vette itch-thing.
By 1982 it was too much, with her ’71 in various stages of restoration, Mary Carol had to have another Corvette. So in 1982 she bought a Silver Metallic 1981 Coupe with a Charcoal interior and an automatic transmission. There were no engine options in 1981, just the base 350/190, but by then all of the basic creature comforts were standard on a Corvette. The previous owner installed a shift kit in the Turbo-Hydramatic transmission, so it took Mary Carol a little while to get used to the car’s hard shifts. Small-block Chevy engines respond nicely to headers, so she had a set of Headman Headers installed, along with a 1969 factory side-pipe setup with the chrome covers.
Many lament that the later C3 Corvettes don’t have the stout horsepower numbers of the earlier C3 cars. While this is indeed true, Mary Carol’s says that with the headers, side-pipes and sharp tune on her ’81, it drives and performs on par with her 350/270 ’71 Corvette. “I’m talking just my driving experience with both cars, but then again I don’t race them, so they both feel like the same Corvette, they just look a little different. It kept me going while my ’71 was being worked on.” The final step in the ‘71’s restoration was the paint, laid on in 1987 by local car painter, Ed Rothtel of “Cruising Solution” in Cleveland, Ohio. Twenty-eight years later, Mary Carol’s ’71 Corvette is still wearing Ed Rothtel’s paint job!
Meanwhile, Mary Carol’s career at Sears was blooming nicely. When computers entered the business world Mary Carol went to the Institute of Computer Management in Cleveland, Ohio for mainframe computer programming. Sears was an excellent company for moving up in the business. With another degree on her resume she became a computer programmer and eventually manager of several Sears stores. At one stage of her career she was working in the magnificent Sears Tower in Chicago. “That was totally overwhelming. We were used to small Ohio towns and Chicago was total culture shock. The traffic and the roads, the congestion, and speed of things, was almost too much. It really wasn’t for us.”
But Sears was a very good company to work for and Mary Carol was able to transfer to the Sears Distribution Center in Columbus, Ohio. Then by the mid-‘80s personal computers were beginning to catch on in retail outlets and Mary Carol managed two, stand-alone Sears computer stores selling IBM and Apple Computers. But sometimes, business models don’t always mesh with new technology and the Sears computer retail stores didn’t work out. By the early ‘90s Sears offered Mary Carol an early retirement package she couldn’t refuse.
Retirement can often times open up new opportunities. After living all their lives in northeast Ohio, it was time to move to a warmer climate. Lake Placid, Florida seemed to meet their needs for sun and fun. Mary Carol did the scouting work and when she found the right house, she called David and told him, “Get rid of the snow shovel! I found the right place!” Lake Placid is truly a small town situated in the middle of miles and miles of orange groves, farms, cattle ranches, and lots of lakes. Think “Mayberry” and you’re close. So in 1997 Mary Carol and David left Ohio and never looked back.
In 2002 tragedy struck when Mary Carol’s husband David died from a sudden heart attack after 27 years of marriage. David was car guy and along with Mary Carol’s ’71 and ’81 Corvette, they had a speed boat with 427/400 Corvette engine. In 2004 Mary Carol bought a Torch Red 2001 Z06. Aside from the car’s track capability, one of the things Mary Carol thought was cool about the car was that it came with a DVD that explained everything one would need to know to race their Z06. While she’s not a racer, it’s neat knowing what the car is capable of doing. The car is completely stock except for a aftermarket hood liner, emblazoned with the Z06 logo, and a few dress-up engine covers. She keeps the car so meticulously tidy, that with the gorgeous red and black interior; her Z06 has won more than its share of car show awards and trophies.
Two months after purchasing the ’01 Z06, and opportunity came along to recapture a ’67 Corvette. The car was a super-clean Marina Blue 327 Coupe with factory side-pipes, aluminum wheels, and a 700R 4-speed automatic transmission. Mary Carol still had the 427/400 big-block engine that was in David’s speed boat. So, she had the engine rebuilt and returned to auto specs, added a 3×2 carb setup, aluminum square-port heads, and Headman headers. The engine work was done by Mary Carol’s Oakwood, Ohio engine friend, Danny Stanton and has been dynoed at 470-hp at the crank. Ed Rothtel, owner of Cruising Solutions, in Cleveland, Ohio (same guy that painted her ’71 Corvette), repainted the ’67 Coupe. The body was block sanded and found to be in excellent condition needing no repairs. All that was needed was an aftermarket big-block Stinger hood. While the car’s interior was in pretty good shape, it needed some refreshing work that was performed at an interior shop in Titusville, Florida.
The completed project is stunning and is probably a better car than Mary Carol’s original ’67 427 Corvette. The big-block engine sounds fantastic, delivers ground-pounding horsepower and torque, and is not over-stressed. And with the 700R 4-speed automatic and it’s tall, overdrive 4th gear, when Mary Carol and John take the car on trips, the big-block Vette can get 20-mpg. That was unheard of back in the olden days of Sunoco 260!
Mary Carol Plott and John Meyerhoff certainly have fulfilled Duntov’s wishes. While they don’t race their high performance Corvettes, they’re living the Corvette lifestyle. They are active members of the Corvettes of Buffalo and the Corvette Cruisers of Highlands County, in Florida. They’re members of every major Corvette association, and subscribe to all the Corvette magazines, as well as participate in Corvette caravans when they can. They have travelled cross country the entire length of Rt 66 in Mary Carol’s 67 and the entire length of the Great River Road from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico in John’s 66!
When you go into the living room of Mary Carol’s beautiful Lake Placid home, you can tell that “Corvette people” live there. It’s a rare thing when a couple has such a balanced passion for Corvettes. And it’s indeed a happy thing to see. – Scott
Read Part 1 of the “John Meyerhoff and Mary Carol Plott’s Corvette Love Affair” HERE.
PS – The above article first appeared in the August 2015 issue of Vette Vues Magazine – The Corvette Enthusiasts Magazine. Subscribe today, HERE.
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