When it comes to classic cars, there’s nothing better than old-timey looks mixed with modern performance. I mean, there is nothing better than the nostalgia that comes with cruising down a backroad in a sports car from a half-century ago. Wait, so which is it? The debate over whether to leave and classic car stock or modify it is decades old because, let’s face it, there are clearly benefits to both.
For today though, we are siding with George Lange and his stock, L79-powered 1967 Corvette. It’s fun to shoehorn an LS3 into a C2 and throw modern suspension and wheels and tires underneath, but every once in a while it’s best to leave well enough alone and enjoy the thrill of owning and driving a piece of automotive history.
George has owned this ’67 Vette for 26 years now, meaning he’s had plenty of time to become bored with the stocker and start changing things around. But that is not what happened. In fact, when we asked him what his most memorable experience with the car has been his answer was, “Every time I drive it.” George is the perfect example of (at least with this car) not letting yourself go down the rabbit hole of modification because as soon as you start chasing more power, more grip, more modern amenities, it becomes hard to stop. One thing leads to another and before long even a 500-horsepower LS engine can’t quench your thirst. By leaving his Corvette stock, George gets to enjoy every drive just as much as the last.
Back in 1991, George purchased the car from a friend who just a couple years earlier bought it from the original owner. The car lived its whole life as nothing other than a completely stock 1967 Corvette coupe. Even more impressive is how little has been changed or replaced since it left the factory over 50 years ago.
The exterior of the car retains more than just the essence of a stock 1967 Vette because, other than the paint and tires, it is actually all original ’67. The car suffered a little body damage on the passenger side back in 1974, which required some bodywork and a new paintjob. The car was repainted in the factory Marlboro Maroon, a color only 15 percent of Corvettes wore in ’67. George’s car sports the cast-alloy bolt-on rally wheels that were a product of increased safety standards, which forced the Corvette to move away from the knock-off style wheels of years past. His rally wheels are wrapped in modern Goodyear Invicta GL tires measuring 205/75R15 at all four corners because, let’s face it, rubber doesn’t last quite as long as fiberglass and steel. Another standout feature of this C2 are those glorious side pipes, or as Chevrolet referred to them: N14 side mount exhaust system.
What use are side pipes without a decent powerplant to feed them? Under the hood of George’s Corvette lives the original L79 327ci, 350-horsepower small-block. This desirable engine option was on its last legs though, as it would be replaced by the L46 350ci, 350-horse engine just two years later. Atop this gem of an engine sits the original Holley R3814A four-barrel carburetor. While just about every aspect of the engine remains true to the car as it left the factory in ’67, George did upgrade the distributor and ignition system to the optional K66 transistor ignition system along with the N40 power steering option.
Behind the factory optioned L79 sits an M21 close-ratio Muncie transmission that sends power back through the stock 12-bolt rearend with the optional G81 Positraction rear axle and 3.70:1 gears. The car’s factory independent front and rear suspension remains unchanged although George did have all of the suspension components rebuilt to ’67 standards.
To set it apart from prior years, Chevrolet made a few select changes to the interior of Corvettes in 1967. For the first time in the history of the Corvette, the parking brake handle was now located between the seats instead of underneath the instrument panel. Other differences for ’67 included a new seat design and the elimination of the passenger handle on the glovebox.
As for George’s car? Well, all is as it should be. You might not be able to tell just by looking, but everything you can see and touch, except the carpeting, has been in this car since it rolled off the showroom floor way back when. That means the seats, the dash, the gauges and even the woodgrain steering wheel are all original. There are surely Corvettes more highly optioned but George’s still sports a couple of key upgrades over the base offerings, such as the A01 soft ray tinted glass on all windows and the U69 AM-FM radio.
A lot of numbers and codes are involved in the maintenance or restoration of a classic Vette and no one will disagree that those are an important aspect of such a car. But when it comes down to it, all the numbers add up to an experience that no amount of new technology can replicate. And as far as experiences are concerned, it doesn’t get much better than a 1967 Corvette with three pedals at your feet, four speeds in your right hand, and the sound of a Chevrolet V-8 blasting from a pair of side pipes.
Photography by Robert McGaffin