Monday, July 14, 2014

Show Car Sunday/Monday returns with a dusty Stingray

Alternate side parking rules make sure that the cars parked on the city streets are constantly shuffling around. I saw this beauty last week looking like a museum piece and vowed to come back when I had time to shoot it. By the time I returned it had moved around the corner to the single dustiest, dirtiest block in Williamsburg. This thing is filthy!
Regardless, this red hot vision is a 1968/1969 Chevy Corvette Stingray convertible. This is the first year of a new Corvette design that was so successful that it would continue on up to 1982.
That swooping contours and pronounced fender arches are from a concept car named Mako Shark II from 1964. Corvette bodies are fiberglass, and this is the era before emissions and safety regulations handcuffed the designers, so this car is pure muscle car athlete.  
The power headlights are vacuum operated, so I'm assuming there's a leak or some issue forcing them to leave them manually locked in the up position. 
There are 2 details that suggest this car was built in 1968. The door handle was a unique design where you reach into the hinged chrome trapdoor for a grip and press the lock button to open it. From 1969 on the button no longer existed, and the act of reaching into that chrome trapdoor activated the opening mechanism. The lock remained in the same location but was flush against the door. 
 The second giveaway is that the reverse lights are located below the split rear bumper blades. Starting in '69 they were integrated into the center of the inner 2 taillights.
The only problem with dating this car definitively as a '68 is that there are 2 details that would suggest it must have been built in '69 instead. 
In 1968 the name "Stingray" never appeared on the car even when ordered as such. Here we see the name placed above the 4 "gill" vents on the front fender. Incidentally, those 4 openings didn't have chrome trim in 1968.
The hood bulge with 2 mock hood scoops gives clearance to the larger engines and looks mighty tough at the same time. Those 350 badges are another curiosity though as it seemed to be available in the Corvette starting in '69 (there were multiple versions of both the 327 and 427 listed in '68, but no 350 that I could see). Everything else about this car screams originality, so I'm inclined to believe it's a 350 car from the factory. The blurred vintage of this ride might be simply attributable to it being the late '60s! The new model year might have been eased in over the span of a week or two, and if this car was built on the cusp it might be an amalgamation of the years.
This car was gleaming when I first saw it! Fixing your hair in the reelection would not have been a problem at all.
Literally the only detail I could find that was less than perfect was the missing center cap for the drivers front Rally wheel.
This amazing Astro VENTILATION wording on the window is bragging about the new-for-'68 fresh air system that negated the need for side vent windows on the front doors.
I think the wide rectangular vents on either side of the trunk lid are the intakes for the Astro Ventilation.

The gas cap is located under this door with the crossed racing flag logo on it. The location looks cool (in the center of the trunk) but must be hard on the paint surrounding it! How many times can you fill up without spilling even a drop of fuel?
Peeking inside reveals the wealth of options this beast is filled with. I mean, it's already a convertible AND a Stingray, and here we can see it's a 4-speed manual transmission, has a radio, and a full array of gauges. Between the bottom of the radio and the keystone shape of the console below there is a thin black stripe with 2 gray rectangles, each with 3 black dots. Those dots are lenses connected via fiber optic to the lights so you can tell when one is burned out!
It would be hard to find a car that looks more fun to drive than this one, though my 40th birthday is weeks away, so maybe my midlife crisis sensor is just starting to work? Whatever, this thing is awesome, brutally fast I'm sure, and totally awesome. Did I say this car is awesome?
The Corvette was a great car that really hit it's stride in the '60s, with the model preceding 1968 being tied (in my opinion) with this one for the coolest of all time. By the mid-'70s the bumpers were getting bigger and the engines slower. By the 1983 redesign forget it! It really became a big wedge-shaped slug of a car. While they did eventually find their way back to being a bargain performance car that could keep up with vehicles 4 times their price, this, to me, is the last of the original, no filler, purpose-oriented, badass almost-race cars. Now go find a carwash for Chrissakes!

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