Andrew Samour was born in 1965, so the first Corvettes he remembers seeing as a young child were early Sharks. Just like it did with many car enthusiasts in that era, the striking design of Chevy’s third-generation Corvette inspired lust in Samour’s heart. “The C3s were the first cars I really thought were cool when I was a kid,” he explains. “So even though I had a mid-year I still wanted a Shark, preferably one with chrome bumpers.”
For several years beginning in the early 2000s Samour kept his eyes open for a nice ’69 or ’70. By then, prices for big-blocks were already quite a bit higher than what he’d need to pay for a comparable small-block, so he focused on getting a high-quality small-block. He regularly looked at Internet auction sites and traditional print publications, ranging from national enthusiast titles to his local Long Island newspaper. One day in 2006 an offering on eBay caught his attention for several reasons. For starters, the car listed was Riverside Gold, a striking and somewhat unusual color. Also, it still retained its original L46 350/350 engine, had several nice options in addition to the engine, and by sheer coincidence was located only a few minutes away from his house.
“The car was intriguing,” he recalls. “And even though I wasn’t originally looking for a convertible, I was interested because of the color, the way the car was equipped, and its overall originality and condition.” Samour called the seller, who readily agreed to bring it over for an inspection.
Samour is an air traffic controller, which can obviously be stressful at times. To help alleviate the stress he enjoys doing restoration work in his spare time. In fact, he enjoys it so much that he operates a small, part-time restoration business called A and M Corvettes, so he was able to easily determine what the Riverside Gold’s strong points and weak areas were. “The paint and exterior trim were in excellent condition but it needed some mechanical work and detailing. The paint and interior color were correct, the drivetrain was all numbers-matching, and the price was reasonable, so I bought it.”
Samour immediately did some cleaning and minor detail work under the hood and inside the car. On the mechanical front, all he initially did was a major tune-up. After that he drove his new acquisition pretty regularly for about two years. It ran reasonably well, but Samour knew the Vette was on borrowed time. The odometer indicated that the car had gone over 100,000 miles and the original engine was using a little bit of oil, so he decided to pull it out for a rebuild. “I did all of the engine work myself,” he recounts. “But it was a sympathetic rebuild using as many of the car’s original parts as possible. I prefer to restore my cars to original, stock condition, and used the NCRS judging guidelines as a reference for part numbers, date codes, paint colors, and finishes.”
After completing the engine rebuild and concurrent engine compartment detailing, Samour drove the car for another couple of years. It ran like a new 1969 Corvette, but there were still a few things on his to-do list. “I store two of my cars on lifts to make room for additional cars in my shop,” he explains. “So the ’69 was often raised up on a lift where I could easily see the frame and undercarriage. There was a lot of surface rust, grease, and chipped paint finishes under the car, which I did not like to see, so I decided to do a front-to-rear restoration underneath.”
As almost always happens, the underside restoration project expanded considerably after Samour got going. He disassembled almost every part of the suspension and steering, stripped every bit of rust, dirt, grease, and other contaminants off the frame and all components, and refinished everything to show-quality standards. Anything that was worn out got rebuilt or replaced with correct new parts. And while he was underneath the car, Samour went the extra distance and completely cleaned the underside of the fiberglass floor, making it appear just like new again. He also stripped and refinished everything attached to the bottom of the body, including splash shields and heat shields.
Though we don’t normally consider a C3’s hideaway headlights to be part of the chassis, their inner workings are clearly visible when the car is up on a lift. The headlamps worked correctly, but as you’d expect on a car that’s more than 40 years old, the various parts of the headlamp mechanisms were dirty and visibly worn in areas. This led Samour to disassemble, clean, and rebuild the assemblies, making them look and function as good as they did when the car was brand-new.
In a similar vein, once the exhaust system and spare tire carrier were removed, Samour got a good look at the bottom side of his Corvette’s gas tank. Like most of the other steel parts of the car, it had surface rust and a good coating of grime. In the interest of safety, he decided to replace the original tank with a brand-new, correct reproduction. In keeping with his “do it once, do it right” approach, Samour also installed a new sending unit and new tank mounting “anti-squeak” strips.
“Unfortunately, there was no tank sticker on top of the old gas tank that I removed,” laments Samour. Nearly every St. Louis-built Corvette got a copy of the buildsheet glued to the top of the gas tank beginning with model year 1967, but the sticker can be missing for any number of reasons. In an effort to learn more about the car’s early history, Samour got in touch with the Historic Document Service office of the NCRS and requested a “shipping data report,” which normally reveals the date the car was produced and the name, address, and other information about the original selling dealer. The NCRS did not have this information for Samour’s car, leading to an assumption that it was probably delivered new outside the United States, which in all likelihood means it was first sold in Canada. In the future, he plans to invest some more time and effort into deciphering the car’s origins.
After completing the restoration of the underside and related components, there is nothing left to do except enjoy the car. “It’s a lot of fun to drive,” Samour tells us. “It’s funny that I wasn’t originally looking for a convertible, but now that I have one I almost always drive it with the top down. My wife and I have taken trips out to eastern Long Island to tour the wineries, and have driven to restaurants for a nice lunch, and to the beach on many occasions. In the nice weather I go to as many local car shows and cruise-ins as I can. The car gets a lot of compliments and people really like the unusual gold exterior. And best of all for me, there’s nothing like driving around in an old Corvette convertible that I’ve restored myself!”