The Last Unrestored Triple Black 1969 Corvette L71

From Reader Jonathan H – So it’s kind of a long story but here goes…  I had a Corvette Coupe and I was cleaning the engine compartment one day when I found a metal ID tag on the radiator from a radiator shop in Saginaw Michigan. I called the shop to see if they remembered working on the car and if they knew who the owner was back then. They gave me the owners name and I found his phone number through Google. I called him up to talk to him about the Corvette he used to own and he thought I was calling about another black Corvette, a convertible :). I said what convertible? He said the 435 hp black convertible. Isn’t that the car you are calling on? I said no but I would love to hear about it!

His friend had owned it since the early ’90s and then put it away in climate controlled storage after the gas tank began to leak. It sat there until 2018. I asked him if he would possibly sell the car and he said he wasn’t really interested. So I stayed in touch and months later I called him to check in on the car and surprisingly he said he would be open to selling it.

So I took my son out of school and took my father in law with us to drive up to Michigan to get the car. When I got there it was crazy. The car had layers upon layers of dust on it, the interior was covered with a film of white mold, and there were cobwebs under the hood and on the suspension. It didn’t run so we pushed out into the sunlight and took about an hour to go over the car. Remarkably the car preserved fairly well and was extremely original.

In fact this rare triple black 1969 Convertible still wears some of its original paint, dealer applied factory tough ups, factory original interior, original M-21 Muncie close ratio transmission, original 3:70 Posi-traction rear end, original F-41 suspension and the original numbers matching LR coded engine which has never been out of the car.

It is estimated that less than 900 Tuxedo Black Corvettes were built out of the 38,762 cars that left the St. Louis plant in 1969 due to the poor paint quality on factory black cars. In fact, black was discontinued as a paint color option for the Corvette until the 1977  model year. Making real, original Tuxedo Black cars among the most desirable by Corvette collectors today.

Only 2,722 Corvettes were built with the potent L71 Tri-Power engine option, adding an additional cost of $437 to the sticker price.

When you add the rare L71 435 H.P. Tri-power option, the convertible option, and the Tuxedo Black color option, it is estimated that less than 25 triple black L71 convertibles left the factory in 1969. Which makes this a unique, low production Corvette and one of the only un-restored 1969 black Tri-power convertibles that hasn’t been restored.

A true barn find, this 69 Corvette has been off of the road and in storage for over two decades. Due to a gas leak, the previous owner parked this big block beast in a climate controlled garage until it was found in 2018.

In the fall of 2018, the car was taken to Tim Thorpe, noted 1969 L-88 expert and Bloomington Gold Judge to authenticate the car and get it running again.

The car has just 43k original miles and I have spent a lot of time detailing it and getting back on the road. I am actually amazed at how tight the motor still is and how well it drives.

Future plans are to drive it, show it and share its history with other car enthusiasts (and pass it down to my son someday). What I love most about these old cars is the history. I have been really lucky to have located and spoken to all of the past owners of the car including the original selling dealer who connected me with the original owner. I text and talk regularly with the original owner who ordered the car back in December of 1968. It has been a lot of fun listening to his stories of the car, and look forward to hopefully meeting up with him so he can take it for a spin and open up the three carburetors, just like he did back in ’69……

Let me know if you have any questions. Thanks and have a great New Year!

High 5,
Jonathan

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Comments

  1. DayDreamBeliever Member

    GREAT Story!

    Thanks for sharing, the car looks fantastic.

    67
  2. Skippy

    Great story and great car!

    26
  3. Chris in WNC

    beautiful car with a fantastic backstory……

    21
  4. Beatnik Bedouin

    Ditto from me. Thanks for sharing..!

    17
  5. J Paul Member

    Fantastic story and a gorgeous car…I see BF is doing it’s part to start off the new year on a positive note!

    20
  6. 900L71

    I would love to know trim tag date code…. And Last of VIN… As I have one with a Q16 or December 16th, 1969 code… The last date I have heard is the 18th…. Anyway to get this info.. My car is about 225 from last produced….

  7. TED WALTHER

    Awesome Story!!! A rare one indeed!

    10
  8. Dan Almashy

    Loved that story, lets us know there are still some awesome cars to be found. Thanks.!

    11
  9. Troy Hester

    How much did the restoration cost?

    • T noon

      Says it hasn’t been restored 🤔

  10. Dave

    I was the caretaker for 25 years, never drove it much motorcycles occupy my spare time. Jonathan will get much more enjoyment out of it than I ever did. It went to a better home!

    72
    • gFLIGHTNING

      wow . COol Dave . I love hearing such a simple truthful seeming story about a great Original Car🏁.
      I have a few like that also, but never for that long ~
      Motor ON . 🕊 . gF NM/FL USA

    • 900L71

      Great car… What kind of value would a like this sell for, at least a ball park or range?…r

    • Alan Pace

      Like the story & your ‘caretaker’ reference lol. Reminds me of being one myself from April ’81 till Dec ’99. At 20, I bought my 1st Corvette in ’81, a ’70 conv w/ 350/350 & an M-22. Only option was black deluxe leather int. Had 52k orig miles, prev owned by a Chevy dealer mechanic in FL & made his way back to CT. to reside where when working at Lycoming, heard a friend of a friend selling a Vette in his garage he had since new. So I bought it by trading my ’75 Formula with a full blown drivetrain. (yeah, I was ‘hard’ on cars at 20 then & blew the eng, trans & rear, in one shot!). So traded that plus $2300 for it. Orig owner told me it was a low production year due to GM strike, said was some special road racing model, had the radio delete & no heater core. IDK.
      Driving it, was 8-9mpg if that, as eng was built by him & dyno’d at 437HP, he gave the sheet for. Fill it for $10 Friday at 4pm & refilling by 9pm. That got old. Three weeks later, bought my 1st HD, a ’79 Sporty. Put $2 in gas tank & rode Friday thru Sunday afternoon before refilling. That took over my weekends! Took the Vette out one day, driving hard in a back curvy road behind my home, shifted in a hard curve, heard a ‘noise’, driving ‘funny’ home, the last mile. Got out, looked at the rear drivers tire on a definite angle. Thought I blew the rear end. Looked in local ‘Bargain News’ free papers for parts, rears were about $500. Out of my price range then. So put in garage where it stayed a few years as I upped the Sporty a year later for a new ’82 HD Sturgis. A friend came by, saw my Marlboro Maroon Vette in the garage & asked why I’m not driving it. Said “I blew the rear”. Said “why you think that”? I said “Look at that tire”. He said ‘Looks like you blew a half shaft’. I said ‘What you mean’? He said “twenty bucks & 20 minutes, your on the road”! Couple days later, bought the parts, 20 min later, I’m on the road! I was SICK! Was 25 & ‘single’ by then realizing blew a few years I could have been out chasing tail & enjoying it! Still didn’t drive it much as was hooked on fact I didn’t have to drive around the ‘bar’ 8x looking for a parking spot to keep an eye on it. Never a prob w/ the bike. So early 90’s, married, 2 sons later, decided to move to ID Dec. ’99. Sold it w/o the new Michelins G60’s all around & true spoke wire wheels, the thick ones, for $7k. The guy that bought it said “I’m going to fully restore it, if ever want it back, I’ll sell it for whats in it”. Yeah. Sure. I had moved 19 yrs ago New Yrs Eve a day ago, but heard it was ‘showroom new’ a couple years later. Never called back there to inquire if can still get it for what he had in it. Doubtful as NOT in writing,lol! Didn’t think i’d ‘need’ it out here, but boy sure wish I brought it as the mountain roads here would have been a blast to explore with the top down :-( Lesson learned, if you have a classic, don’t unload it if getting married, need a furnace, kids in picture, moving, WHAT EVER! Let the ones in charge of …..your estate, do THAT!!!

  11. RUSSELL Warren LAVIGNE

    Dave, assume car.. In the article it says it was ordered December 69… But it had to be and early 69 car due to actuator being large for wiper door.
    Note: I believe I own the very last one produced and it is a survivor…thx.. I know he will enjoy the car…

  12. Survivor69 Member

    I haven’t restored it just cleaned it up and performed necessary maintenance on it. Dave, thanks for all your help with the history of the car. When you are down this way stop on by and we will take it out for a drive!!

  13. PDXBryan

    Wow, now that is a world class barn find! What makes it truly first rate is that it was found by someone who loves it, not a flipper.

    26
  14. Terry Simank

    Absolutely Wow !! So glad your keeping up with original owner, living it and not going to Barrett Jackson… My 71 is in awe also ! 🇨🇻🇨🇱

  15. Michael

    Awesome car. It’s nice to know someone found such an original barn find and kept it rather than flip it for big bucks!

    15
  16. Chuck D

    I would love to find one like that or a 67 Chevelle SS to keep. Not interested in flipping.

  17. Ray

    Great story !!!

  18. 433jeff

    Uhhh i have corvette envy again.

    10
  19. Pat L Member

    That’s great that you could let go of it Dave and let someone else enjoy it. Some people will just let a vehicle deteriorate to a rusty hulk and leave it to their heirs to dispose of.

    14
  20. Neil

    Wow that “original” factory applied paint looks pretty amazing for 1971, especially when i hear GM canceled black as a option color. I have a very hard time believeing any part of this “story”.
    Oh yeah I would never drive my big block corvette again if it had a gas tank leak.
    I mean oh my god, dear lordy lord could anyone on the planet figure out to repair a leak in a triple black highly optioned corvette?
    Any one that believes this story please contact me. I Have the only triple black convertible Don Yenko 1970 Super Bird.
    Yes Yenko was thinking of getting into the mopar business and i have the 1 and only prototype he prepared for them. Sadly the gas cap didn’t fit after he was done so the car was rejected. But it was kept in my grandfathers heated storage facility and regularly checked by Carol Shelby with consulting by Richard Petty and Ferdinand Porsche. 😉

    • canadainmarkseh Member

      If you don’t buy into the story that’s fine, but why do you have to be a dick about it.

      66
      • leiniedude leiniedude Member

        LOL, With you to canadainmarkseh! Have a great new year!

        15
      • Neil Leaving

        But this is America, and it’s my right to say what I want. I got my license 1989.
        I think you are confusing meto be a dick with something else.
        I like to Read and learn about actual real barn finds. Real barn finds and fakes are a 2 easy to be bothered with.
        The ad to sell the car said there where “layeres upon layers of dust” okay think a car set who
        ever long and was not moved.
        Thats 1 layer? Right. Look at the seats, real 1969😉i should learn to read guy. No way a 57 year old drivers seat has not developed a split saem or just crushed flat foam.
        I like to read about cars, and if I spot something is to good to be true i complained.
        I won’t comment again as the multiple negative comments just show me up as nobody

    • Randall Donathan

      It’s an L-71 Not 1971. Read it again or have someone read it for you.

      13
    • Richard F

      Seriously?! Hey Neil, I’d love to see your 70 Super Bird…maybe you can show it to me sometime when you’re off from your local paper and pizza delivery route and your mom gives you permission to get dressed and leave her basement before noon? Who knows, you might even save up enough one day to quit playing/fantasizing video games and buy a collector car of your own…like a Prius?

      “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt.” Never a more fitting quote for a more deserving fool.

      33
    • CrazyGeorge CrazyGeorge Member

      How much ? You guys never quote a price… It’s always ” make me an offer ” ..
      Well I can’t make you an offer unless I know what your willing to take… So how much ? Unless you want me to contact my solicitor !
      It sounds nice though.. Do you have all the original stickers ? You say it’s a
      “YENKO” but did you install his hi-rise lifters ?

    • Dallas

      Waiting for the proof Neil.

    • Survivor69 Member

      Neil,
      You are entitled to your opinion whether it is based on actual facts or not. BTW you referenced in “the ad for sale” it had layers of dirt. The truth is the car isn’t for sale and was never listed.There is no ulterior motive on my end because I am not trying to flip it. I know a number of the barn find stories here come from ebay but this was just a story about my car that BF wanted to publish. Thanks!

  21. RUSSELL

    Neil, it is a 69 not a 71… Yes they stopped making black after 69 until 77 except for a few SPC cars. That is what makes these cars rare…r

  22. Survivor69 Member

    Neil,

    Not sure why you don’t believe any part of the story? I am also not sure the purpose of your comments? The truth is sometimes stuff happens and cars sit. Dave who had the car before me raced cars back in the day and got into motorcycles instead. I am just glad that when he parked it he put it in a place where it didn’t deteriorate. I have photos and video of the car from where I bought it and it’s condition. Old pictures from previous owners as well as paperwork. I also have pictures and video of the corvette shop getting it running. If you want to, just post your email I am more than happy to send them to you. Thanks!

    14
    • 900L71

      Jonathan, I wouldn’t mind see a few more photos… I also have a real 69 triple blk 435 vette.. And a real 68 Tuxedo Black vert vette with med blue interior. So you could say I am a fan…. Here is an email address that I don’t use much and don’t mind making public …. Thx
      Russell.lavigne@gmail.com

  23. Dave

    Hey Neil I believe since I owned it. Don’t believe, no problem but I know who I bought it from in 93 and who Jonathan bought it from and Jonothan has all my documentation.The story is true and it’s an original ( 1969 not 1971 since there were no L71 in 71.) L71

    13
  24. ccrvtt

    That last photo of the car all cleaned up nearly took my breath away. Absolutely beautiful.

    And Neil – not funny…

    19
    • leiniedude leiniedude Member

      With ya ccrvtt. Happy New Year, Mike.

  25. Survivor69 Member

    ccrvtt, thanks! The paint is by no means perfect but it cleaned up nicely. After all it’s old lacquer paint.

    Also, Neil, it’s a 1969 L71 corvette not a 71. The L71 was a GM RPO code for the 427, 435 HP engine with the 3×2 Holley carb setup.

  26. Survivor69 Member

    Here is a pic from 93 when Dave owned it.

    17
  27. Paul J Luiso

    Love it and I don’t even LIKE Vetts that were built after the ’50’s!

  28. Ron H

    Neil, are your eyes green?

    Congrats on a great find, Jonathan. Ron

  29. Angrymike

    The tri-power engine was 400 hp and had the L-68 code. I had one in my Chevelle. The L-71 was a single 4 barrel carb and I think was rated at 435 in the 69 Vette. Someone correct me if I’m wrong !

  30. RUSSELL Warren LAVIGNE

    AngryMike, they did make a 400hp tripower with hydraulic lifters, but they also made a L71 that was a 435 hp tri power with solid lifters….r

  31. Steve S

    That is a good story and an amazing car and If I can find the book my grampa has about his mom’s car he and my great uncle got after she died I would like to share that story if I could find that book and knew how to send it in

  32. grant

    …one of the only un-restored 1969 black Tri-power convertibles that hasn’t been restored…
    You don’t say!! Seriously though, this is a breathtakingly beautiful car. Good on you, Dave for preserving it.

  33. RUSSELL Warren LAVIGNE

    Hey Grant, I am following closely… If you look closely in one of the photos you can see an early 69 wiper actuator….r

    • Survivor69 Member

      Russell,
      The longer actuator was used in 1969 early with the vacuum relay on the inner fender, then the relay moved to the back firewall, then lastly the longer actuator was switched out for the pie pan one and used in 70 and beyond. The latest production car seen with the longer actuator was 31,201 but there might be later cars that have them. Thanks!

      • 900L71

        Late 69s also had pie pan actuator. Note: my point was that it not a late build or order Decemeber 69. It could have been ordered December 68. As if it was ordered Dec 69 it would have been really tough to get a 69 and one with long wiper door actuator..Which could be as simple as a misprint one the article. The article also somewhat implied LAST… Which kinda sorta implied a late build.. Again just wording. But important to me because of what I have….thx
        Love the car, love the story…r

    • Survivor69 Member

      Good catch it should sat Dec 68 :)

      • 900L71

        Send me an email an we can share our stories….r

  34. Survivor69 Member

    Angry Mike, So… in 69 you could order the following engine options:
    Small Block 350-300 HP
    Small Block L-46, 350-350 HP
    Big Block L-36, 427-390 HP single carb-Hydraulic lifters
    Big Block L-68, 427-400 HP Tripower carbs-Hydraulic lifters
    Big Block L-71, 427-435 HP Tripower carbs-solid lifters, cast iron heads
    Big Block L-89, 427-435 HP Tripower carbs-solid lifters, aluminum heads
    Big Block L-88, 427-430 HP Single carb-solid lifters, aluminum heads
    Big Block Z-L1 427-430 HP Single carb-solid lifters, aluminum heads and aluminum block

    • Angrymike

      I never knew that, thanks fren. I always thought the only tri-power was the L-68 !

  35. Survivor69 Member

    Here were the 1969 Corvette production options and totals:

  36. Robert Mitchell

    I bought this 1971 Big Block in 1973 with 14,000 miles on it for $4,600. Drove it to 50,000 miles and sold it for $4,500, thinking I did pretty good, only losing $100. Sometimes, having kids means the Corvette has to go. Shucks.

    14
    • Survivor69 Member

      Robert, that is a really cool picture, thanks for sharing!

  37. Comet

    Beautiful!

    • Survivor69 Member

      Comet, Thanks!

  38. Skid

    Everyone kneel before King Neil!

    Great article Jonathan.

  39. Larry

    Being Dave’s brother, I can verify the house in the background, the car and the story.

  40. Wrong Way Member

    Now you have my attention! LOL, maybe go down just 4 more years! Please!

  41. stillrunners

    Who has L Brocchini on their Protect -O-Plate ? He ordered a triple black drop top also – about the only color Vette he ever had. Here’s my aunt with their first Vette….

    • leiniedude leiniedude Member

      I see a red car and I want it painted black. In my best Mick Jagger voice. Both great photos stillrunners. Thanks, Mike.

    • Survivor69 Member

      stillrunners, love the black red combo. Do you have pics of the black 69 by chance? Love to see them….

      • stillrunners

        Funny….he said he never really took pictures – but my aunt is in most of the ones he did take. I’m in Texas and didn’t go out much to Sacramento to much so I found out a lot on my visits in the 1990’s My mom was his older sister that my dad met in 1945 when he got out of WWII. Always heard a little about him being or having hot rods but just never knew how much My Aunt Betty was the one that said ‘ show him the pictures”….it was like wow…still have a lot of slides to go thru so I’ll see.

  42. Survivor69 Member

    Cool pic, thanks for sharing!

  43. stillrunners

    It shared the driveway with their El Camino……

  44. stillrunners

    I have the vin of his 427 convert on a plastic owners card……he sold it in 1975 or 1976 in Cali…….

  45. Neil

    Wow, all to who are annoyed at my post about this original vette. I am so sorry.
    My eyes are ice blue, no green with envy of said car. While a big block vette is probably a hoot to drive here lies the problem. If it’s real and this write up on it is real, it’s just shameless bragging on oh look how cool i am, but as the new owner will admit he probably can’t tell a left hand threads from right. Cars like these were used by the people that owned them by saving every cent they owned to buy thier dream.
    Any man with a job and a good work ethic could have been a proud owner of this car back in 1969, little reference to the person that caught my 1971 typo.
    I like B.F. as it finds great starting points for someone or a father and son team to bond over the build.
    So to the guy who wants me to give up my pizza delivery job and news paper route i award u the biggest snob award to something stuck where the sun dont shine.
    Send me your personal email I’ll send you pictures of my cars and motorcycles.
    By the way i weld new and repair heavy equipment.
    Neil

    • Wrong Way Member

      I know that whomever you are talking about, their pride just got stomped on! Haaaahaaaa! If they needed to be put in their place, you darn sure did it! Soooooo, funny!

    • Survivor69 Member

      Neil,
      Thanks for sharing a pic of your car, cool color. So, I think the reason people responded to your post the way they did is because you chose to take shots at the past owners and myself about the car for no apparently good reason. Even in your latest post you are making assumptions you know nothing about. You don’t know how long I saved up for this car? Or whether it’s a father and son project for me? Or the fact that you assume I don’t know how to turn a wrench and can’t tell my left from my right? The only reason I even sent Jesse from BF the info about the car was to share it with other enthusiasts and hear from other enthusiasts about their cars. In fact I had a great conversation tonight with Russell and got to learn about his cars, super cool! I don’t agree with you that when an owner wants to share pictures of their car and it’s history that it is shameless bragging. The truth is 20 years from now this hobby may very well fall apart if we can’t get the next generation engaged and stick together as fellow muscle car enthusiasts. Just my .02……….

      12
  46. Neil

    Survivor69,
    I am sorry this whole string of fighting got caused by my Rude text. I am a very blue colar welder, i am grateful for the money I earn.
    I have just been “slightly” botherd that the cars i would see in the local juck yard being parted out for nothing on a 455 olds, I got it for $350 oil pan to distributer.
    The life blood of the love old American iron can’t be preserved with prices going the way they are. That was why i sent the sarcastic comments about your car. I hope the claims are real and i don’t care what you paid for it as long as u are happy. Question is media attention good for the classic car industry or not.
    I leave a picture of my 4 year product, other than parts from Germany I Did All the work. Took 4 years but we all are human.

    • Dallas

      Neil

      Thanks for the follow up postings and sharing the pics of your rides.

      While I don’t normally like painted bumpers they really look good on the Ranchero along with the distinctive color.

      The bike looks to be in a class of its own and I am sure you get plenty of positive feedback when out with it.

      As to cars being purchased and not used I , at 62 have to admit have been set outside to ruin due to life , $$$ or just something minor that put them on the back burner for what started out as a week and turned into decades. I just got the driver quality 67 Firebird convertible out of the back field for needing nothing more than a battery terminal replaced. It fired up after a short bottle feed of gas.

      Fortunately this Vette had a nice dry home to be mothballed.

      I am glad he shared his story and took his dialogue as sharing a really neat find as opposed to rubbing his good fortune in the faces of the BF forum.

      Dallas

      BTW… you have a talent I don’t have if you are able to set that rear end up.

  47. Neil

    What’s this too the haters?

  48. Survivor69 Member

    Neil,

    Love the bike, nice work Neil! My grandfather was a welder and loved these old cars. In fact my first car in high school was my grandparents 69 Nova, with a 230 six cylinder. I worked and saved up enough to buy it from my grandma. Unfortunately he passed away right before I was born and never got the chance to meet him. I think that’s where I got the car bug from because no one else in my family has a passion for working on these old cars or restoring them. In regards to is media good for these cars? Well I think so. After all I have met a number of new car enthusiast I would’t have met otherwise if it wasn’t for this article.

    • Neil

      I am hopefully a honest person and want to give a Huge!!!!!!!
      Shout out to “surviver69” and the fact that he with kind folks in his family let him save and work to buy it.
      I made my unwanted comments cause I thought the whole article was a flipper thing to get the big hammer draw.
      So to everyone on Barn Finds i man up and say sorry, I deserve all you threw at me. I hope to have my next project done and I guess let the hate pour down.
      Neil

      • Survivor69 Member

        No worries Neil. Good luck with your next project!

  49. stillrunners

    As a follow up…my uncle discussed the order of the 427 Vette with his wife – one of my Aunt Betty’s – he would tell me….he wanted to order it by checking some boxes off…he did the cost #’s and she said okay – as he already had a buyer for their Sting Ray coupe…so it was a go…

    Sorry for the replies on your find….always some poor sports out there !

  50. Survivor69 Member

    Jesse, thanks for making the changes to the article!

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