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Resurrection of a Big-Block 427 1968 Corvette

Rare Finds: A diamond that had to be polished

Jerry Heasley Aug 16, 2016
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It’s hard to believe, but 1989 is a quarter of a century (plus two years) ago. That’s how long this 1968 big-block Stingray coupe had been gathering debris in a 30x50-foot home garage outside of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

“There was a set of doors on the car. It was sitting on jack stands. Piles of who knows what and black, heavy soot from a furnace or somebody smoking covered the entire beautiful red body,” Bryan Shook said.

Shook found out about the car 10 years earlier when he moved into the neighborhood.

“I’m an attorney, but I’ve got old cars and in my spare time I like to work on them. One day I’m putting scrap metal out by the curb for the recycler and this guy pulls up in this old beat-up pickup truck. He introduces himself as Bud and says he is into old cars, too. He’s a junk dealer on the side and I give him my old panels and whatever I have.”

On another visit, Bud told Shook, now a friend, about an old Stingray in his garage, which is right around the corner. Later, Bryan stops by Bud’s place and gets to see the old Vette.

“He said he had owned a 1960 Corvette when he was younger and it was his dream to have another Corvette. So he bought this big-block Stingray. He also had in there a 1978 Silver Anniversary Corvette that he drove a little bit, but he never drove the big-block.”

Bud bought the 1968 in 1989 and just put it in his garage, awaiting a restoration. It wasn’t going anywhere.

1968 Chevrolet Corvette Front View 2/3

They dragged the 1968 Corvette out of the garage. Then they took the wheels off to free up the frozen brakes.

1968 Chevrolet Corvette 427 Big Block 3/3

Valve covers read “BIG BLOCK.” Shook investigated the numbers and found a match with the VIN, revealing the 427 was stock in this chassis.

That is, until Bud passed away in the summer of 2015. His son Dave inherited the car, but didn’t have the time or money to fulfill his father’s dream and decided to sell.

As bad as the scene might look to the average Joe, Shook has owned old cars all his life and viewed the big-block Vette as “a diamond that had to be polished.”

The 1968 was actually very complete and had not been molested, but appeared to have been “rode hard and put away wet.”

The big question was did this 1968 come from the factory with a big-block? Shook daubed brake cleaner on the engine pad and confirmed numbers matching the last six digits of the VIN and title. On that same pad, the engine suffix code of “IL” revealed a 390-horse 427 with four-speed. Furthermore, the red/red checked out on the trim tag codes. Yes, sir, this was a diamond in the rough.

Shook wasn’t interested in the 1968, but he tipped off his friend Kevin Mackay, the noted restorer and owner of Corvette Repair in Valley Stream, New York.

Mackay never took the time to go look at the car. He did see pictures. He took his friend’s word on what the car was.

“I trust the guy. I knew Bryan knew what he was looking at. I knew the car didn’t run—probably have to give it extensive cleaning, change all the fluids, knurl the brake calipers, stuff like that, get it up and running. But, it is all complete. Bryan said it was a red-on-red 427, 390-horse. I said that’s going to be a nice little driver.”

As of this writing (July 2016), Kevin had not even received the car. But he was very sure the gas tank sticker would be intact because the car had never been apart.

Kevin made Dave an offer. Six months passed before Dave called back to see if the offer was still good. It was.

Most people who find old cars will not reveal the price. Kevin had no problem.

“I paid under 10 grand for it. It was reasonable and I was very comfortable. It had great colors and it is a 427.”



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