1967 Chevrolet Corvette - Hood Winked

Mark Kittrell's '67 Proves That Looks Can Be Deceiving-Even In A Factory-Correct Corvette

Dustin Dwyer Feb 9, 2011 0 Comment(s)
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The year 1967 was a wild time for Corvettes. Originally intended to be the first year of production for the new shark design, 1967 instead turned out to be the final year of the Sting Rays, with what many have called the "cleanest" design for any of the C2 offerings. While the lines on the '67 may have been cleaner, the production of them included plenty of events that were anything but.

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A few of these oddball occurrences in the '67 production year have become notorious among Corvette enthusiasts. Perhaps the best-known Corvette story from '67 was the ultra-low-production L88 engine, with those flagrantly misleading stats put forward by GM to keep street racers from taking it home. But '67 also saw the elimination of the knock-off wheel option and the passenger hand-hold above the glovebox, which were both memorable in their own way.

One of the firsts for the '67 model, however, was the availability of three different hood types, depending on the engine. The small-block hoods remained similar to '66 hoods; but for the 427 and L88 engines, GM added an aggressive-looking scoop, which set the more powerful Sting Rays apart. According to Noland Adams in The Complete Corvette Restoration & Technical Guide, Vol. 2, requests began pouring in for 327s to be optioned with the big-block hood. All of these requests were turned down, but a select few 327s did make it off the assembly line with the big-block hood. They just weren't ordered that way.

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Mark A. Kittrell of Lakeland, Florida, owns one of these hybrid-bodied rarities and, if you look closely, you might be able to notice what sets these "factory wrong" C2s apart from the imposters. Adams says that, in the factory-made big-block hoods, there is "no sign of the lower hood support mount on the right inner front panel" and no "mounting plate provisions on the right side." For replacement hoods, there is a metal plate riveted behind a depressed area on the right side of the hood that is noticeable.

So how did the big-block hoods make it onto the 327ci-engined Corvettes in the first place? According to Adams, in either late February or early March, a worker accidentally dropped "a screwdriver-like tool" into the small-block hood mold, ruining the mold and halting production. At first, it seemed as if Corvette production would have to be stopped altogether until the costly mold could be replaced. When the people in charge realized they had enough of a big-block hood inventory to keep the Corvettes rolling off the line, however, they simply decided to put the big-block hoods, which were more popular anyway, onto the small-blocks. These hoods were also distinguishable by the fact that there was no emblem or stripe added to the bulge as there was on other big-block hoods.

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Within three to five days, the problem was solved and the hood crossover ended. Although we were unable to find exact numbers on how many 327ci '67s were produced with the big-block hood, we can estimate there were no more than 540. Based on Adams' claim that the factory averaged six Corvettes per hour, frequently ran nine hours per shift, and had two-shift days, it's possible that 108 Corvettes could have been made in a day. This would make 540 for the five-day period.

Keep in mind, though, that this is the high estimate. The factory may have fixed the problem in less than five days, and with the switch in hoods, production was almost certainly slowed down from the average rate.

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When Mark first sought out this sleek mid-year, he wasn't looking for anything rare; he just wanted something with a little more boost than his previous car: a 250hp '63. As he tells it, "I wanted a red '67 with P/S, P/B, four-speed, and side exhaust." He got all that, plus factory air, headrests, AM/FM radio, and speed warning (a slight oddity in its own right) in this beauty, which he bought from a Georgia collector. According to Mark, the rare Sting Ray is a "weekend warrior" and he gets plenty of thumbs-up whenever he takes it out, even from those who don't know the history behind it.

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