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1967 Chevrolet Corvette Vietnam-Era Family Affair

A War Hero’s Corvette: Keith Litavsky’s son auctions his late father’s Corvette at Mecum Indy

Walt Thurn Jun 6, 2017
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Keith Litavsky served fearlessly in Vietnam. His son Matt recalls his father’s last mission, “It was one that haunted him for the rest of his life. His entire unit, including his commanding officer, became engaged into a firefight. Unfortunately, the majority of his unit was lost. His commanding officer was shot so my dad carried him out of the firefight and he survived. Unfortunately, his commanding officer was killed in a helicopter crash.”

His father received two Purple Hearts for bravery under fire for his heroic actions in combat. During his tour of duty, Keith dreamed of buying a new Corvette when he was discharged from the military. He sent every paycheck home in order to save enough to purchase his Corvette. When he returned, he picked up his new 1967 Corvette at Jack Douglass Chevrolet in Hinsdale, Illinois, on December 23, 1966.

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The original St. Louis factory paint is blemish free and shines from the loving care it has seen for 50 years.

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From any angle this body style has remained a favorite of automotive designers from around the world. It was to be replaced with the rebodied C3 generation Corvette. Development problems delayed its introduction until 1968 and the Sting Ray continued through 1967.

This was no ordinary Corvette; Keith loaded his Marina Blue coupe with the following:
427/435 L71 Tri-power engine
M21 close-ratio transmission
4.11 Positraction
F41 special suspension
Power windows
Tinted glass
Tilt/telescopic column
Speed warning
AM/FM radio

Keith treated his new Corvette like a newborn baby. He never drove it in the rain or parked it in the sun to prevent the paint from fading. He used a damp, soft cloth to clean the always-clean car. When he parked his Corvette in the garage he raised it on four carpeted jacks to remove the pressure from the tires and the springs. He kept meticulous records of his maintenance and logged how he used his Corvette. His logs included each time he started the Vette, how it ran and how many rpm the engine turned. He bought a second vehicle and instructed his wife and five children to not tell anyone about his Corvette. He was fearful that it would be stolen, which was common in that era.

Keith led a productive life until he contracted cancer. During his time in Vietnam he and his unit came into contact with the chemical Agent Orange, a known carcinogen. He died in 1993.

After his dad’s passing his son Matt trailered the Corvette to his home and put it on a lift in his climate controlled garage. He continued to maintain the Corvette the same way that his dad did to preserve his memory. Matt saved all the paperwork that was ever associated with this 8,533 original-mile survivor Corvette. This year he made a tough decision to part with this special Corvette. He believes the Corvette needs a new home, but admits that he and his family will miss this piece of his father’s legacy. Even when it’s gone, Matt’s memories of his dad and the Marina Blue Corvette will live on forever.

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Backup lights were moved from the two inside taillight positions to a single area above the license plate holder. It gave the car a much cleaner look.

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A total of 3,754 L71 engines were delivered to Corvette owners in 1967. In 1966, the highest horsepower available was the 427ci/425hp engine (L72) with one four-barrel carburetor. The L71 and L68 were the first Corvette engines to be equipped with 3x2 barrel carburetors.

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This L71 engine was built at the Tonawanda engine plant in Buffalo, New York. The 427ci/435hp big-block gained a lot of respect from the street kings around America for its blazing performance.

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Looking through the back window, the Sting Ray instrument panel provides the driver with a clear look at speed and engine speed. This design was a hit with Corvette owners.

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The odometer shows 8,533 miles and this car’s Bright Blue interior is original and unrestored. It’s a 50-year time capsule to show what a new Corvette interior looked like in 1967.

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The console-operated parking brake was new on the Sting Ray in 1967. It replaced the underdash pull handle and provided more underdash legroom for the driver.

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The M21 four-speed transmission came with this beefy shift lever. It included a reverse lockout T-handle under the shift knob that had to be lifted to shift into reverse.

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Keith Litavsky purchased his Marina Blue coupe from Jack Douglass Chevrolet on December 23, 1966.

Photography by David Newhardt, Courtesy of Mecum Auctions

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