Rally Red w/Red interior, L69 427/400hp, 4-spd manual transmission.
Did we mention that we love a great story? Well, just in case we didn’t here’s one we think everyone will get a kick out of reading!
As told by the original owner, a Mr. Pete Taylor . . .
I bought this ’67 Rally Red L68 Coupe from Riverside Chevrolet in Jacksonville, FL in the late summer of ’67. I was a Navy fighter pilot who had just returned from Viet Nam. And this was my “get back from Viet-Nam alive” car. I had been flying missions over North Viet Nam and was lucky enough to survived the catastrophic USS Forrestal fire at sea in July of ’67.
So, I went to Riverside Chevrolet to buy a L79 (327/350hp) Convertible. But, a slick-talking salesman has a special deal out back he wanted me to see. There was a 400hp big block Coupe with everything on it except power brakes. Supposedly, it was s special order car that had been refused. The Sticker price was $6,500, as I remember, but the salesman said he would let it go for $5000! I had owned a ’64 300hp Convertible, but sold it to a schoolteacher for $2,500, before I left for Nam. Because I didn’t know if I was coming back. I went for the deal since it had cost me about $2,500 net. Little did I know what a deal I had purchased! It actually took me 40 years to figure it out!
But there were some problems. The dealership couldn’t get the car to run correctly. I remember going to the back lot to start it up. It took a few cranks to get it going. And when I shut off the ignition, it kept running! It had transistor ignition that never did operate properly (more on that later). The dealership worked its magic somehow, and a week later, I took delivery. Wow! What a car! A young, single Navy lieutenant junior grade aviator with all those horses under the hood, that genuine leather smell on the inside . . . and air conditioning! What a “chick magnet”!
I was living in a singles apartment complex with outdoor parking. And of course, the car was a target for thieves. In the first three years I owned it, it was stolen three times!! According to the experts, when the car was hotwired, it burned out the T.I. coil and the car was dead at that point. I would find it a few blocks away, replace the coil and was ready to Rock and Roll again. The police even caught one guy in the act, but didn’t see him actually in the car, so they wouldn’t prosecute. I figured my .357 Smith & Wesson might “prosecute”, but I thought the better of that.
My plans were to buy a new Corvette every three years. But when I looked at the ’70 model, I didn’t like the C3 body style at all. So, I kept the ’67. What a great decision . . . for all the wrong reasons! But in hindsight, it sure worked out later on.
I got married in ’71 in Jacksonville and the ’67 was used on our honeymoon. It was a resort motel on the other side of town because I had to leave on a six-month aircraft carrier deployment two days later.
I bought a house in ’72 where the Vette was garaged for the first time and the year my first son was born. He went to the hospital pre-birth in the Corvette and came home four days later in it. One side note: It was July and hot as Hades when I took my wife to the hospital. And as with most big block motors, if I got stuck at a light or a traffic jam with the a/c on, the car would overheat. So off went the a/c!
Picture one pregnant woman, sweating like a horse, not in the best of moods to begin with, and me with no a/c to solve the overheating issue. My wife had no sense of humor at all. Words came out of that lady’s mouth that I had never heard before or since! Number two son was born in ’76 and again he want to and came home from the hospital in the Vette.
For the next few years, there were problems with the car running rough. At this time, I was no Corvette expert. I loved them, but it was just a car. Some mechanics convinced me that the carburetion was the culprit. All you purists out there can sit down now. So off came the Tri-Power set-up and on went an Edelbrock with a 3bbl Holley. I forget the rating, but I think it was 950 cfm.
I was smart enough to keep the original manifold and carbs. But, only because there wasn’t a market for them at the time they were removed from the engine. And even with the manifold and carb swap, my problems still weren’t solved, as the car still ran rough. In ’80 I removed the T.I. system and installed a straight ignition. That seemed to do the trick! The car ran like a top! Smooth and quick! So, I decided to re-install the 3×2 carb set-up. I was getting smarter!
The car had its first paint job in ’79. An outfit in Jacksonville called Atlantic Corvette did the repaint. By this time, the car had accumulated many stress and seam cracks. All of these were fixed and the original-type Rally Red acrylic lacquer paint was used to paint her up. They the shop did a great job. The looked better than when it came out of the showroom!
Thant same year, I moved to Newport R.I. to attend Naval War College. I found out that big block Coupes to not do well in snow. Especially Red ones! What a roller skate! In ’80 I moved to Beeville, TX. to take command of a squadron. There was no garage at my new place and the Corvette sat out in the hot Texas sun. But, the paint held up well. By this time, minor issues were starting to pop up. Fuel pump, alternator, water pump, fuel tank leak. You know, stuff that happens to an older car. So, I replaced them all . . . and there went the Tank Sticker.
In ’83 there was a move to Virginia Beach, VA. to be Air Boss on the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower. I was at sea most of the next three years. The Vette finally had a garage, but it was running rough again and beginning to smoke a little. At this time, I estimate the car had about 180k miles on her and she was getting tired. She had been my main mode of transportation since ’67, made trips across the country numerous times, hauled kids to the hospital to be born and been peed on by my cat and dog.
I decided to get the engine overhauled. I was at sea, so a friend of mine kept tabs on the effort. Two cylinders were scored, so she was bored out .030. When I got back and picked up the car, I noticed parts were missing. The car ran okay, but not great, like it should have. This business turned out to be a rip-off outfit. The only thing that I lucked out on was that in decking the block, they didn’t touch the pad. All the numbers were still there by sheer unadulterated luck!
I received orders to move to the Pentagon in ’85. I initially commuted from Virginia Beach to D.C. in the Vette, but that got a little expensive, so I bought a small Datsun truck. In ’86 I got tired of running the road and moved the family to D.C. and rented out our house in Virginia Beach. The Vette made the trip with us, of course. I drove her around D.C. quite a bit and had many offers to sell. But I was not selling. She was family!
We moved back to Virginia Beach in ’89 and I retired form the Navy in ’91. The ’67 was in bad shape by then, but I didn’t have the money or expertise to restore her correctly, so she sat in the garage.
Sometime in the early ’00’s, I started going to Corvettes at Carlisle with some friends. With their help, I started learning the value of Corvettes and really got interested in the hobby. John Mazach, Dave Dollarhide, Tom Stewart, and Don LaRue showed me the way. Also, part of our group was Joe Calcagno, whom I liked to call Mr. Corvette. When it was discovered that I had a ’67 400hp Coupe with factory air conditioning and I was the original owner, things started to pop. I was still playing around with restoring it, with the encouragement from the group. I rapidly discovered that restoring an old horse like mine was a very costly undertaking. And I still didn’t have the facilities or the expertise to pull it off. To be continued . . .