Vintage Vette Custom: 1969 Corvette Convertible

In the seventies, custom cars were all the rage.  Hot Rod Magazine was in its prime, George Barris was a legitimate celebrity, and the World of Wheels coming to your town was like having a second Christmas.  Of all the many types of cars that were customized, none were more popular than Corvettes.  While there were a lot of customized solid axles and Stingrays out there, it was the Corvettes that we commonly call C3s that were most popular among the customizers.  Some started with an Eckler’s Corvette body kit, and others went all out.  Some looked great.  Some not so great.  However, you never see these seventies icons much anymore, which makes this write up all the more enjoyable.  Definitely on the wild side, this 1969 Corvette custom build is for sale here on craigslist in Louisville, Kentucky.  While there is a lot of work left to finish on this radical ride, a big block engine goes a long way towards justifying the $9,000 price tag.

The first thing you notice on this Corvette is the condition.  It is hard to tell if it was already customized, and then someone purchased it with the intent to restore it before giving up.  Or, someone started with a rough Corvette and had a vision.  Either way, this one is a long way away from stock.  NCRS purists are probably tearing up at the sight of it.  The wheel wells have been flared, the front end has been converted to a tilting hood, and it has a pretty big spoiler plastered on the back.  I don’t even know how to describe the pipes sprouting out from below the front fender.

It appears that Bondo was the main medium the sculptor used.  Used properly, Bondo is an effective way to hide minor dents and scrapes.  However, plastering it on in thick clumps usually turns out poorly.  The proper way would be to build up the custom areas with fiberglass, and that may be how the flared wheel openings were created.

From certain angles, you can see the look the customizer was going for.  The car was going to resemble a Hot Wheels car, with the usual large wheel and tire set in the rear, and a set of skinny wheels and tires in the front.  The fender pipes would be chromed and would spit out a flame or two when the car is running rich.  A wild grill and front end would be balanced with a tall spoiler to round out the design.  All of this would be topped with a custom paint job in some combination of candy colors, metal flake in the paint, and wild pin striping.  Maybe an airbrushed picture of a half naked lady riding a white tiger or something on the hood would be the icing on the cake.

If the customizer had skills, then the whole thing would look pretty good.  It would look better without the lady and the tiger thing, but that is just my opinion.  Then, the car could be displayed at car shows, and maybe the car would even end up on the World of Wheels tour if they liked it.  What a lot of people don’t understand is that many of these custom cars didn’t have the long term build quality that the custom cars we see on today’s popular TV shows seem to have.  They were cobbled together, and they didn’t stay in show condition long.  The idea was it had to look good from behind the velvet ropes.  I have seen a few of these old show cars a few decades after their prime, and they are a train wreck.  All of them used shag carpeting and/or fur in one way or another.  Can you imagine Chip Foose using fur?

It looks like the customizing stopped at the fiberglass.  The interior in this car is a mess, and the hanging wiring is not a good sign.  The trim code on this Corvette is 420 (no joke), which tells us that the car originally had a saddle colored vinyl interior.  As for exterior color, the 988 paint code tells us that the car was originally burgandy.   I find it odd that the whole interior, even the dash, is black on this car.  A dash is a real pain to change out, not to mention the time needed to swap out the rest of the interior.  Maybe a serial number check would be in order as well.

So, the engine is the real head scratcher here.  It currently has a big block Chevrolet V-8 nestled in the engine bay, and the valve covers look to be identical to the ones legitimate big block Corvettes wore in 1969.  I am pretty sure the decals are add-ons, and the heads look to be aluminum.  The ad doesn’t say that it is a factory big block car, but it says it is equipped with a “427/400.”  I am assuming that the seller means a 427 cubic inch block with 400 horsepower.  Could this be an original big block car?  It makes me wonder if the seller, who has a very nice looking Corvette in the background of a picture above, bought this car to restore and then gave up when he became aware of just how difficult that would be.  Or some other problem cropped up.

The ad states that the brake parts have been rebuilt or replaced, and that the suspension is all new.  It also tells us that the engine has a rebuilt automatic transmission with a new “red neck stall converter.”  I don’t know what that is, but it sounds cool.  The car is drivable, and the price is firm.

So, I really don’t know what to say here.  If it is a legitimate big block car with the original engine in it, the car is selling for far less than the sum of its parts, especially if the frame is in good condition.  It is, or was, a convertible, and you can see how it could be a spectacular show car in the right hands.  Putting it back to stock would likely cost a fortune, but the tilting front end conversion may have destroyed too much to make that possible.  It would be nice to see a new Corvette customization, and this one has been butchered enough to make that a guilt free process for the new owner.  It is just that the big block and the black interior make me question everything.

Can any of you Corvette experts please chime in with your take on this car?

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Comments

  1. whmracer99

    Thing the 427/400 combo references a turbo 400 transmission. I just think this is a train wreck if the exterior is any indication of the customizer’s “skill”. Can’t figure any way this is worth what they’re asking.

    • Rod444

      Pretty sure it’s a 427 with *400 hp* because the 427 came in different configurations and they have wildly different values according to the pricing guides:
      427-390hp V8-L36 add 30% more to car’s price
      427-400hp (3x2V)L68 60% more
      427-435 (3x2V) L71 90% more
      427-L89 (alum heads) 200% more!

  2. Rick

    I dig it. As long as the cage is clean, this is a good starting point to finish the custom angle. Shame it went on what appears to be a late 60’s, early 70’s convertible, but that makes it all the better with the top off and those pipes blasting in your ears. Or not.. might get tiring after a couple minutes. Still..

  3. Steve R

    The wheels aren’t vintage Americans, they are the what’s currently being sold. This style of modification would have more than likely seen dish/slot mags or possibly wire wheels. The Zoomie exhaust is tacky.

    If done right these cars can be pretty cool since they represent a specific point in time, but only if they are done with vintage parts that were actually available at the time of the build. If the build strays cars like this become just another wannabe poseur.

    Steve R

  4. flmikey

    I cringe whenever I see something like this…one word…..re-body…

  5. Chuck

    What a waste of what was once a nice Vette Convertible.

  6. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    I bet his next door neighbor with the blue Stingray will be happy to see it gone.

  7. ronebee

    Super Cool, Tremac 5 speed, roll bar, sidepipes, Fiaa headlights, Ansens and finish the bodywork and you would have a great car. I DIG IT!

  8. Poppapork

    The only way to make this legit would be to build a late 60ties/early 70ties racing tribite corvette (pre-Greenwood). Convertibles with hardtops were used as a basis to hide the roll cage. The flares are all wrong though, trans is wrong too, i dont get skinny front tires with fender flares either. It might be cheaper to get a shell and just trow the ecklers catalog at it then to try rectify this one with 300lbs of cracked bondo on it…

  9. ruxvette

    Jeff, pay attention here…
    Straight axle usually refers to the old “gasser” cars because they had, well, a straight axle under the nose.
    Corvettes, prior to 1963 and independent rear suspension, were referred to as solid axle cars.
    Capische?
    The pipes…they were called “zoomies” back in the day.

  10. AMCFAN

    I always worry when I see that the owner has another of the same car (only nicer) in the background. Makes me think that he took the best parts from this wreck and installed them on his better one.

    I think this was formerly a $2500 find with just enough current owner added bling to make it appeal to someone. Still tons of work left to do. Great eye Steve R exactly where I was going and couldn’t have said it better.

    There are more big block Vettes then GM made. Why? They are worth more. Here is the problem. It may have large fuel lines, the big block resister hiding under the front bodywork. But no documentation from the original owner, No tank sticker you have nothing. Here lays the problem. Tank stickers can (and have) been reproduced. Engine blocks can and have been stamped. Unless you know the car or the seller it is buyer beware.

    If a factory big block it will add little value here. Corvette people are picky and the mods done to this car may appear cool to some the real enthusiasts the restoration will be extensive that only someone very skilled can do. Old school body men are almost a thing of the past. Corvette people won’t buy it for the same reason the owner with two Corvettes is selling it. It is all here if you look at the pictures.

  11. 68 custom

    although it is now gone the 400 Hp could have meant it was originally a 400/427 with 3 holley two barrels and oval port heads. but the intake is gone so does it matter, not really . ditch those cheesy pipes!

  12. Madmatt

    I dig it! In the 70’s there were lots of Vettes customized.
    Some better than others ,but back then, it was”just a vette”
    I really like the tilt front end,as I have always thought that it would be easier to work on,and for just plain coolness!This needs to be finished,
    and parked right next to those so called Vette “purist”at the next
    car show,who will be in agony at seeing such a brute.I think it would be very popular!I also love Hot wheels.!
    Bring on the “candy metal flake”

    • Valentino Plaza

      Hey Madmatt!…just the kinda guy I’ve been looking for..yeah kinda crossed the purist line here in calif…guess I’m considered a lone wolf..worst comment on my 82 vette When you gonna paint that thing said a white haired gentleman ..says he use to have 2 real corvettes.oh well..I was just lost for words but just then here at the 7 eleven store come a young crowd..mostly girls wanting to take pictures.. screaming..yelling at the same time..sitting in it touching it..Man it was insane..2 hrs go by..trying to make my getaway..then a brand new vette pulls in..we’ll the crowd hardly moved..the vette guy didn’t even give me a thumbs up ..just go’s in the store comes out & away he gos didn’t mean to upset anybody. .just trying to bring an old C3 vette back to life ok?..by the way..paint scheme was all done by spray cans by flashlight around 11 pm each night.mobile trailer park didn’t allow any painting of any sort..oh well.hope the pictures come thru.

  13. Kevin Lee

    I like the look of what they were (apparently) going for, which I believe would’ve been a ’70’s funny car or street freak which was big for awhile back then. Needs to be finished that way. I think the world can deal with one less restored ‘Vette. At least it’s not rotting away in someone’s backyard or a wrecking yard.

  14. Don

    I see a money pit, it will cost far more than the value of the car to restore it, not even considering the price of the car. Nothing original in the car, so it will never bring the kind of money that a correct one would, it has two positive features, it’s a big block convertible, that’s all it has. Sad to see, but this is what makes my old Vettes all the more valuable.

  15. S Ryan

    It’s been on Craigslist for at least a year.
    First time I’ve seen it under the $10 ++ number.
    Now I might have to go look at it.

  16. Poncho pusher

    To me its about the taste of the person building it…..if you only know how many times people racked me over the coals for takein a 49 willys wagon shoven a 34 ford front axle pontiac 389 in it with fender dump headers ect…..used every early mid 60s part i could find to make it as “correct” as possible to the era/time frame of the gasser look….and i mean alot of older guys dig the gasser look even tho its a flat fender and not a pre war willys but some people act like im freakin nits for what i did……i just tell em it was a $500 wagon thats it i built what i wanted…..and maybe thats how who ever started this felt…..its only a vette built a million of i want mine to be diffrent……true the build could be a catastrophe or could b a really cool life size “hot wheels”….i dig every thing tilt nose zommies all ove it but needs wide wheels in the rear and a nice boat flake and cany paint job…

  17. Valentino Plaza

    Oh…sorry guys didn’t think my picture went thru so here’s another try ok..82 old vette on a mission…..Search & Destroy …..hahaha .. just kidding guys!

    • Poppapork

      Spray can paintjob came out great! What are the periscopes for? i like it! its crazy in a fun way, not in a retarded way… PS i have a 79 with a grenaded diff sitting for over 3 years now, no funds to repair the right way

      • Valentino Plaza

        Well..Poppapork..I didn’t have the funds to keep up with the big boys either…so I just took the bottom half of a square turkey pot roasting pan…flipped it upside down ..bored 3 big holes..put in some angled copper tubes..screwed it down right on top of the original air housing & kaboom..the more you Rev that engine ..the more outside fresher air ya suck in..& yeah..it works..don’t need much to look kool..just trying to help the forgotten C3s make a come back..know what I mean?

      • BMW4RunninTundra

        Poppapork,
        So, what are you thinking about doing with the C3 with the grenaded rear end? If you are thinking about, finding it a good home, respond back with a way to contact you?

  18. Nrg8

    My son said Lightning McQueen clone…..

    • Valentino Plaza

      Ha ha ha ..yeah..your sons got good eyes….never heard of a lightning Mcqueen..had to go on images to see what that meant..now I can kinda see the paint scheme resemblance. .good catch kiddo!

  19. Mark

    Crush it minus 427

  20. Fritz T.

    Ticky-tacky personified…

  21. Tyler

    Big block 60’s convertible Corvette, it has potential & should be restored. Only problem, is by time you pay the speciality shop that has the means to bring it back, you could have bought an already nicely finished one & been enjoying it. Values will continue to rise on these cars though, so it’s not like you will be upside down in it for more than a few years…

  22. Jeff

    I love this it reminds me of the old Hot Rod magazine cover with the 3 or 4 vets cruising down the road. I miss the customization of the 40’s 50’s 60’s and 70’s

  23. ron bajorek

    i like it!

  24. Madmatt

    Hey Valentino…! I don’t normally like vettes
    past 72,…but I really like what you have done!,
    it looks “period correct” late seventies/early eighties!
    I am sure that it draws a ton babes too!…..ha ha!
    “anyone can own a vette”…..but it takes guts to make
    one stand out in the sea of plainness! Great work,
    I love the interior, like one of my
    “disco dreams”or nightmares! LOL.
    Thanks for sharing! really cool!

    • Valentino Plaza

      Hey Madmatt…..Thanks for the comeback!….&.Yeah…This C3s a trip to drive… especially at night. ..just before sunset…the sun seems to make it glow kinda like a meteor or like the dying burning embers in a barbecue pit …Yeah & it does draw the Babes! ..isn’t that what every guys dream was back in the day day?…Hot Cars..Rockin Roll..& Girls Galore!…Yeah!…but let me tell you Madmatt….speaking about guts….I’ve learn it takes a lot of that just to take it for a cruise….it’s a blessing to have a vette like this & yet it’s cursed at the same time. …Seriously! …I crossed that line..for what it’s worth to all the C3 enthusiasts ..I’m your genuine guinea pig on this subject…I’ve never talked & met so many people in my life that from the heart show Appreciation for your efforts..pat you on your back with a hundred thumbs up..especially with the kids & then there’s those that condemn you!..Like out of the crowd comes a serious voice…”When you plan to paint this thing young man”?…yup ..a purist I guess…says I was making a mockery of the corvette world..getting it all dolled up like that was ridiculous…Huh!… I was lost for words & then there’s the time I let 2 gorgeous babes sit in there.. then refused to get out & said they would start breaking things if I didn’t take them for a cruise & they were serious..shouldn’t have been cruising around so late I guess…maybe because being 67 years old..looking like 29 & still having long brown hair down to my waist & still playing guitar in a Rock & Soul Band has a lot to do with what’s going on…People say I should act my age ha ha ha …but I’ve always wanted a C3 since I was 18..So….Food for Thought Guys..Appreciate the fact you even have a C3…there really a special breed…& Cruise, em while your still young & Think Three Times before crossing that Line!..Hear Me!

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