California Kissed: 1969 Chevy Corvette

1969-Corvette

When I bought my M3, I really didn’t think too much about it being from San Diego. At that point, I just needed the car and shipping it seemed like a logistical nightmare. But, the price was right and it appeared to be an honest car from an honest seller (and it was!) But having just agreed to purchase yet another vehicle from California, I can now say I’m a believer in buying cars this way for as long as I live in the snowy state of Rhode Island. The reason is – especially on older cars, which I happen to like – everything has rusted to bits in these parts. Well, Jim S. spotted this ’69 Corvette here on eBay in Long Island, an original California car, that has somehow survived intact despite years of outdoor storage.

327-v8

That’s the real beauty of a West Coast car. They just seem to wear better, most likely due to rarely encountering the corrosive salt spread on roads in places where winter is a very long season. My M3 doesn’t have a lick of rust starting anywhere, and it’s nice to know I will likely never have to deal with rust repair for as long as I own the car. Leading up to this latest acquisition of mine, I inspected one car in person and had two other individuals send photos of their vehicles for consideration. The common strand between them? A little rust, more rust, and a LOT more rust. Adding up the cost of bodywork in addition to basic mechanical refurbishment just killed any excitement I had for a new project, and I knew it had to be avoided on any purchase I made. California cars can make rust a non-issue, fortunately, taking at least one wild card off the table.

trashed-interior

This Corvette has been parked outside for the last 15 years, and thankfully hasn’t conceded to the elements. It’s a bit of a head-scratcher that this Vette made the drive across the country and then got kicked outside into the elements. Personally, if I had made that kind of a journey in a special car like a ’69 Corvette, I’d be sure I had a warm garage space waiting for it at the destination address! If nothing else, I’d want to keep that California-bodywork shimmering for years to come, avoiding the fate of so many cars that have met their end at the hands of the tin worm. At the very least I would have fixed that rear window to preserve the interior, which by the seller’s description sounds completely trashed.

worth-restoring

“I’m guessing the California climate saved this car from the dreaded chassis rot” are the seller’s words in the listing. About that he is dead-on, as almost every picture reveals clean fender edges, sills and floorboards. However, I’m sure rust is already beginning to form as we speak, no thanks to being parked on top of wet leaves and snow for the last several years (complete with a torn soft top window – that poor interior!) This car’s time is now in order to save it from certain rusty death, and I hope someone doesn’t just use it as a parts car. It’s survived this many years exposed to crummy northeastern weather – it deserves a second chance! What do you think – is it worth restoring or simply for parts pillaging?

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Comments

  1. MH

    That’s one of my dream cars. To bad it’s in very rough shape. I know someone will save it.

  2. Joh

    if frame isn’t rusted up bad, and I believe 69s are noted for that, u might have something

    • dj

      Joh, you’re correct but it’s not limited to the 69. I’d say 63-82 is probably better for rusty frames.

  3. Scott Allison

    I hate idiots that leave a Corvette unprotected!

    The biggest issue is going to be the birdcage. Left out in the elements for so long, Need to pull the kickpanels and check the #1, 2, 3, and 4 body mounts. Most issues occur in the windshield frame which rusts internally due to water penetration. It’s costly to replace, and even if your a welding wizard, it’s a real pain to replace.

    The frame is showing areas of deep rust (last picture especially). Most of the undercoating has kept the frame in OK condition, but will need stripping and attention with a grinder.
    The bushings are shot, and the rear half-shafts look in poor condition too. The support over the gas tank looks to be severely pitted.

    This Vette will need to be lifted off the frame to get to all the rust issues, but as long as the birdcage is clean, it’s something that can be restored.

    • dj

      Don’t forget the rear trailing arms for a total rebuild. You know they’ve never been done or the bearings packed. Count on new spindles and bearings. I’ve still got my tools from when I rebuilt these at the dealership. There’s not that many folks now that can or will do them.
      Those pics of the frame should warn a few folks that this is no paint, interior flip it car.

  4. Dutch 1960

    Southern California is dry, you don’t get the rust. But it is hot and sunny, so the interiors fry. Northern California has hot and dry areas, and also cooler and wet, so all bets are off. Of course, each car is different, with it’s own history, which may be a true and correct one or not. But if you are looking for low or no rust, Southern California is a good place to shop. If you want a pristine interior on a car that was not garaged all it’s life, fuhgeddaboudit.

  5. krash

    yikes….what a shame….
    ….. the poor thing would have been better off it it had been left in Sunny CA.

  6. Steve

    Love the ’69 Vette. One day I’ll have one, just have to sell 2 of the 3 I already have. And of course the fender lips, sill and floors look good… fiberglass doesn’t rust.

  7. Dolphin Member

    The ’69 with the 350/300 engine has the least value of any of the convertibles for that year, $22-$47K in excellent condition (SCM Guide). It might have been in CA at one time, but that was 28 years ago, so most of its life has been in NY. The seller thinks that one use for the car would be to “use parts for an existing project”. He may be right.

  8. Rollo Grande

    What a waste.

    BTW spending 2/3 of its life in New York (OUTSIDE!!) makes this an east coast car. The California provenance is long gone.

    • Jeff Lavery Staff

      Fair point. I bet the car wishes it were still in California as well!

  9. Joe Howell

    Sad :( Had a 68 ragtop 327/350/4spd 40 years ago.

  10. The Chucker

    “Winter project”…and then some. Nice ‘vettes of this vintage and drive train combination can be had for $25-30K. At $5,300 with 5 days to go, someone must see something I don’t. Now if this were a matching # big block car w/4-speed, much different scenario.

  11. rancho bella

    All this reminds me of the saying “the older I am the better I was”. As one of the lads here mentioned. The birdcage will be in question. If that is the case………..stick a fork in it.

  12. John A

    Everywhere I see metal I also see rust…. Even with the low miles you lose that when you change out the speedometer! To fix this it would have to be a keeper because you would be upside down to sell it.

  13. John A

    I have been doing some checking and this “OWNER” didn’t know the engine size of this car? But he has a long list of car parts and vehicles that he has sold over the past few years. This sounds like a “FLIP”! Hate these people.

  14. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    This is going to be a very scary, expensive project. Considering this is the most basic, common, ’69, it just isn’t worth it.
    For perspective, I sold my ’70 350/300, all numbers matching, build sheet supplied, convertible this past summer for $21K, in 100 times better condition than this. And, ’70 convertibles are much more rare than ’69s.

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