The Black 1997 Franklin Mint Corvette


I've seen many comments and speculations regarding the 1997 Black Corvette, but I've never seen anyone share a story that was like what I experienced.  So with the exception of knowing the exact production numbers, I would like to think my story helps to explain what actually happened.


In the late 1990's I was on the preferred collector list for Franklin Mint Corvettes.  We had  a local Franklin Mint store downtown where I always bought the newest Corvettes, and clearly set the expectation with the manager that I would buy every new Corvette without fail.  One night I received a call from Franklin Mint directly.  Not the store, but the manufacturer, based on being on that list.


      Red vs. Black?


The caller stated Franklin Mint was taking a poll from preferred collectors about a new 1997 Corvette, which was being tooled to celebrate the release of the new C5 Corvette.  They were collecting votes on the two color choices of red vs. black.  While on the phone with her I walked over to my display case and took a quick note of how many red vs. black FM Corvettes I had, and real-time voted for red.


The caller registered my vote and asked if I would like to pre-order a red one.  I said, "sure", and she put me on the list.  I then asked "what happens the winner is black"?  She said, "well...would you like to pre-order a black one too?  That way you're covered, and we will just cancel the order for the color that is not chosen".  That sounded fine to me, so I also ordered the black one and forgot all about it.


Months later a Franklin Mint Corvette arrived in the mail.  It was black.  I checked out the car and thought it was very cool and the first C5 Franklin Mint I've ever seen.  I assumed the winning vote was black.


Several weeks after that I received a second Franklin Mint box in the mail.  This time it was a red 1997 Corvette?  I was puzzled.  And at first thought my original Franklin Mint telephone call must have been some elaborate scheme to trick people into ordering two of the same car, in different colors.  But as I joined ebay in 1998 and started to put the pieces together, it was clear that one car was a production run and the other was special.  But for a long time I was not sure which was which.


Since then it became clear that the black one was special.  Later I learned that "IF you were on the list.  IF you got the call, and IF you preordered the Black one", Franklin Mint did it's best to ship you a special black one.  Wow.  It was dumb luck, but a very cool story.  Also I would add that some of the black cars were shipped with red paperwork.  And if you got paperwork featuring a red 1997 Corvette, it's simply because they were trying to get the black ones shipped and used red paperwork to make it happen.  But some did indeed get brochures featuring the black car.


For the record?  I got the black paperwork with mine.


All Content Copyright 2007 Bruce Jeschke, JetsVettes

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