It’s not every day the owner of a sports car throws you the keys to a vintage Corvette and says, “Take it for a spin.” Which, of course, being the proper houseguest you immediately grab the keys, open the door and turn the ignition. The rest, as they say, is history.
Well, that’s almost the rest of the story, but there is more. Mike Stowe is a longtime hot rodder from the Boyne City, Michigan, (Great Lakes Motor Works) area and among his collection of cars he has a 1977 Corvette with barely over 5,000 miles on the odometer … and that’s a genuine 5,000 original miles. The car, in nearly every way, is as original as the day it drove off the showroom floor. Even the original Goodyear Poly-Steel tires are still there to be seen. This was the era of anemic muscle cars, as well as Corvettes. Horsepower at this time was looked upon with disdain; for this model year the power ranged from 180 to 210 hp … embarrassing for Vette aficionados.
I spotted this Corvette and the low miles intrigued me but what really had me scratching my head was the convertible top. See, it thought Corvette didn’t make a convertible in 1977. Turns out they didn’t!
Well, I had to ask Mike, “What’s up?”
He told me that a company in Toledo, Ohio, was in the custom car business and bought a leftover 1977 Corvette coupe. It was their intention to see if they could remove the coupe body section and install a 1975 rear clip and still have the car strong enough to motor down the road whether the top be up or down. Could they achieve the quality of ride that a new Corvette would have? Having driven the car around town I can attest to the fact that they were successful. The Vette runs down the highway as it was intended whether the top be up or down. The mechanics of the top are just what one would have found on the earlier Corvette. It’s actually pretty slick and performs flawlessly.
Mike has owned this car since 1979 and doesn’t get to drive it much, attesting to the 5,000 miles on the odometer. It has, however, made it to a number of shows, including as acting as the courtesy car for Zora Arkus-Duntov and his wife, Elfi, at the 1982 St. Ignace springtime car show. The Corvette was also used at the 50th Anniversary of the Mackinac Bridge celebration, and while there were convertibles from all years of Corvettes present it was this 1977 that came across the bridge first, four abreast.
Just when you think you have seen it all within the world of Corvettes something like this pops up, giving hope to the dream that someday you will be the recipient of a garage find of something say like one of the engineering cars that represented the 1965 big-block Vettes. Nothing to ostentatious, just an original engineering big-block car!