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Wild IMSA-Style 1968 Chevrolet Corvette Captures 1970s Style and Performance

From the Archives: Big Banana

Drew Hardin Apr 25, 2016 0 Comment(s)
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Petersen magazines got a lot of mileage (so to speak) out of this widebody Vette in 1976. “It’s big, yellow, goes like the devil and attracts oglers of both sexes and every age group,” wrote Chuck Nerpel in a feature Motor Trend published in the December 1976 issue. This story capped a year in which Car Craft magazine devoted nine issues to the buildup of the “CC Vett,” taking it from an auto theft victim to the “only Corvette of its kind in the world.”

1968 Chevrolet Corvette Front Side View 2/16

The car belonged to CC publisher Steve Green, who spent years sketching and planning the dream machine he wanted to build. Once his ideas gelled, he sought a subject car and found what Nerpel described as “a stripped 1968 Vette that had found its way into a small junkyard as the result of a car theft insurance settlement.”

There wasn’t much to the wreck, apparently, but that was fine with Green, as he would completely rebuild the car. He was fortunate that the Vette came with a heavy-duty suspension, as that gave Dick Guldstrand a solid starting point to “work his magic” on the chassis. Along with heavy-duty shocks and a rear camber kit, the suspension required “special tuning to handle the extra-wide Firestone Parnelli Jones G50x15 front tires on 8-1/2-in. rims and N50x15 rear tires on 10-in. rims.”

1968 Chevrolet Corvette Front View 3/16
1968 Chevrolet Corvette Rear View 4/16

The wide rear meats also posed a challenge when it came time to mount the IMSA-style fenders. “New Chevy IMSA wheel coverings were cast of fiberglass; then, with lots of grinding, cutting and fitting, they were blended into the body shell. The end result was a very smooth-looking treatment combining both function and distinctive styling without that added-on look,” wrote Nerpel.

1968 Chevrolet Corvette Rear View 5/16
1968 Chevrolet Corvette Engine Bay 6/16

The bulging hood covered a 350ci V-8 that was modified “to achieve the best performance possible and still have an engine flexible enough to drive comfortably in traffic or on the highway,” said Nerpel. After trying out a variety of induction systems, Green settled on an Edelbrock Torker intake manifold topped by a Carter Thermoquad 9800 carburetor, “which seems to be just the right combination. On a recent 1,200-mile vacation trip, cruising at near-legal speeds, Steve logged 15.5 to 16 mpg, not bad for a 3,600-lb roadster that does a 100-mph quarter mile in 14 sec.”

1968 Chevrolet Corvette Front Three Quarters 7/16
1968 Chevrolet Corvette Interior Seats 8/16

Inside, Green rode in Scheel bucket seats fitted with Simpson competition belts. Stewart-Warner gauges replaced all the stock instruments, while tunes (we wonder if Green was into K.C. and the Sunshine Band, or more of a Steve Miller guy) played through a Blaupunkt AM/FM/cassette system. A radar detector was mounted near the windshield; there’s an early mobile phone tucked between the seats; and, this being the 1970s, there’s a CB radio in there, too. Given the value of all these onboard electronics, Green invested in a “very sophisticated” alarm system that had its own power supply and was “hooked to a transmitter that signals a small beeper unit Steve carries with him whenever the car is left unattended.”

The Big Banana was an attention-grabber for sure, “truly a one-of-a-kind Corvette,” as Nerpel put it. Even in car-crazy Los Angeles, during the height of the bell-bottoms-and-polyester era, it would stand out wherever Green took it.

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