Lou Notaro was a highly impressionable 5-year-old when his uncle Guy brought home a shiny, silver-skinned 1969 Corvette. With its red gut, big round gauges and its growling factory side pipes, the beautiful plastic Chevy roadster quickly engaged the young car aficionado in-training, and just wouldn’t let him look away. Even at that age, Lou knew someday he had to have one of these beautiful cars to call his own; and from that moment on it became his goal to score a Corvette when he was old enough to drive.
Because he could still count his age on only one hand, he had to wait a dozen years before that Corvette-infused dream became a reality. When he finally received his learners permit at age 16, Lou’s parents surprised him with a 1980 Corvette of his own. Talk about a sweet gift! And it goes without saying that Lou cherished the Corvette, and showed his parents that they didn’t waste their money. He took exceptional care of the ride, keeping it out of the elements and treating it with kid gloves. He owned that car until 1988, when he and his wife, Lisa, started their family and a more practical car was needed.
But it didn’t take long for the thought of owning another Corvette to come lurking back. Four years later, a 1992 convertible made its way into Lou’s driveway. That one would only stay two short years, as a second daughter was now welcomed to the family. Once again his passion would be put on hold as he tended to family and business matters. For the next 10 years a parade of Vettes would make space in Lou’s garage. In 1996, Lou purchased a brand-new Corvette coupe, which was succeeded by a 1998, as he wanted the newly released convertible, which was the first Corvette drop-top with a trunk! Then a 2001 Torch Red six-speed followed. A super-clean 1980 Vette made its way into the garage next, alongside the 2001, which was then traded for a new 2005 convertible with power top.
In 2008, Lou got a hankerin’ for a C2 big-block car. He researched the model years and did his homework thoroughly. Knowing the constant upkeep a 40-year-old car would need, and having a full house with three young daughters at home, he decided against pulling the trigger on a vintage ride at that time. But deep down inside he knew that one day a mid-year ride would be his. So instead, at the request of his wife, he snatched up a new Z06 in Jetstream Blue. It was a mesmerizing site to behold to say the least, as Lou still has this beauty to this day.
In 2010, Lou snatched up the new Grand Sport offering, which was traded in 2013 for a 427 convertible with the Z06 engine and body. But with a milestone birthday just ahead, Lou wanted to make one wish come true before hitting the half-century mark; he wanted a C2 big-block ride. So with the months winding down, he went on a search to find the car of his dreams. He got the go ahead from Lisa and the search was on to find a needy C2 big-block coupe to call his own!
Lou reached out to several of his friends involved in the car hobby. Soon, information popped up on an original, highly optioned 427/400hp Tri-power coupe blessed with factory air and side pipes. To top it off, the car was the highly sought after Rally Red and black gut combo, finished off with a black stinger. With a numbers-matching drivetrain it was a no brainer that Lou should check it out. However, there was a catch.
Unfortunately, the car had been disassembled in an ill-fated restoration attempt. It’s always a process when dealing with cars have been taken down and stored in boxes. But Lou was still interested in the project Chevy anyway, and was ready to take a look.
The story goes that the car was purchased in 1985 by an eccentric collector who was a big-time muscle car guru. He stored the sickly Corvette in an old chicken coop on his farm, which, unfortunately, put the car into further disrepair. Sadly, the owner passed at a young age and the family sold off the cars. It was purchased in 2005 by a Mr. Joe Costa who brought it to a restoration facility where the car was documented and torn down. The rebuilding process commenced, but—in a sad coincidence—once again, the current owner passed away before the car was completed. The car was then put up for sale by his widow.
Fellow Corvette enthusiast Bill Durr Jr. gave Lou the contact for Starlight Restorations out of Egg Harbor, New Jersey. Proprietor Doug Ims was more than happy to give his opinion on the project car so he headed out to the homestead where the Corvette was located to meet up with Lou and Lou’s good friend and fellow Vette connoisseur Andy Cannizzo. What they found was a car far from being finished. Lou was able to purchase the partially restored car from the widow. The carcass was brought back to Starlight, with Lou’s pickup carrying the many boxes of parts for the 1967 back to his house for organization. Lou and Andy searched through the myriad of parts and made notes of what was missing and needed to be obtained. His wife thought he had finally lost his mind!
You hear of horror stories involving car restorations, but Lou’s mind was quickly put at ease after talking to Doug. And his reputation preceded him, as he’s known in the ranks as a top restorer and an easy guy to get along with. So Doug got the go-ahead from Lou and started the restoration in May 2014. While the work ensued, Lou continued to scope out the web and swap meets, trying to score as many N.O.S. parts as possible. Throughout the 13-month journey Doug and Lou met up at a halfway point on the Garden State Parkway and exchanged boxes of newly found and reclaimed parts.
Pat Laudisi, a master mechanic at Starlight who worked for Chevrolet in the ’60s, reassembled the chassis for the build. The frame was cleaned up and deburred, even the stamping flaws on the edge of suspension components were cleaned up and smoothed out. An F41 special handling suspension kit, which was an option in ’67, was installed as well for better grip. While that was going on, the body was mediablasted and the bodywork ensued. After the ’glass body was made laser straight, four coats of Sikkens Rally Red base were laid out and blocked flat. Another coat of color was then added before four coats of clear were finally laid on its flanks.
The original numbers-matching 427 was bored 0.030 over to clean up the cylinder walls. Pat helped source out parts for the build and turned the wrenches on the engine bay. It was then rebuilt to totally stock form, and pushed the dynamometer to the healthy tune of 415 hp at the crank. A transistor ignition was installed for more reliability. This particular ride had power steering and power disc brakes right from the factory, as well as A/C. Very few of these 427/400hp coupes came with the cool-air option!
After nearly 1,700 hours of labor, and help from scores of good friends, this beauty was finished. In its first show straight from the restoration facility, this Corvette was a total show-stopper. It’s won a variety of awards for its over-the-top restoration and continues to be a crowd pleaser. Lou would like to thank all the people who made this dream a reality. This car is a testament to all the hard work that went into bringing this car back to life … and it shows in the details.