As Phyllis McLoughlin discovered, in order to find Corvettes, you must go where the Corvettes are. For her, years of waiting and wishing followed by a determined search yielded this beautiful end result: a '69 427 Daytona Yellow Corvette convertible.
"I always wanted a Corvette since I was in high school, but was never able to afford one," she says. "Then, after having three kids, it became impractical. Thirty-three years later, and after the kids had moved out, the time was right and I started looking for one."
Phyllis had one thing working in her favor: She knew what she wanted.
"I wanted a 427 four-speed with side exhaust," she says. "We had looked all over Florida, and decided to fly up to the Corvettes at Carlisle [Pennsylvania] show. After three days of walking and looking, I saw this car. It was Sunday, the last day of the show, and I knew right away it was in really good condition and that I wanted it. We negotiated, finally agreed on a price, and gave the owner a deposit."
The McLoughlins had caught the seller just as he was about to leave the show. So the next day, they went to his house to get the car and found it was even better documented and cared for than they'd originally thought.
"We were very surprised to see he saved all of the original parts he had changed, like the exhaust, master cylinder, etc.," Phyllis says. "He also had a vinyl hardtop for it."
In addition, the owner produced the dealer's order sheet and manufacturer's certification of origin. The tank sticker was still in place. He had so many parts, the logistics of getting the car from Pennsylvania to Florida posed a problem.
"Needless to say, it would have been impossible to put everything in the back of the car, plus our luggage, so he agreed to ship everything else down to us," Phillys says. "We dropped off the rental car and headed south. The car ran great, and after 1,400 miles and numerous stops at gas pumps, we made it home."
This all took place in 1997, and two years later, Phyllis and her Corvette would receive two distinctive honors.
"In 1999, we were invited to drive the car in the Orange Bowl parade to represent the '69 model year," she says. "The same year, the car won the Carlisle Award at the Wonderful World of Corvettes show at Disney World."
Daytona Yellow is the car's original color, and this edition of the exterior was applied by Dominic Bruno of Rod and Custom Design in North Ft. Myers, Florida. The paint wasn't in bad shape when Phyllis bought it, but it wasn't as nice as it could be.
Of all this Corvette's original equipment, one piece stands out above the rest: the snarling 427 big-block. It's no L88, but the '69 L36 engine still came with a factory horsepower rating of 390. The L36 and the four-speed manual, close-ratio transmission was a popular combination, but Phyllis' engine sounds even better at the business end of the side-mounted exhaust system. In 1969, 4,355 Corvettes were built with side pipes. "The best thing about this car is the engine and its sound," Phyllis says. "When you step on it, it's not only exciting, but it's music to my ears."
The person who originally ordered this Corvette obviously wanted a car that could go, but the option list is a nice blend of performance, appearance, and comfort components. Besides the L36 and four-speed, options include a Posi-traction rear axle, deluxe wheel covers, a transistor ignition system, leather interior, headrests, and the auxiliary black vinyl hardtop.
That plush leather interior is all original, as is the black carpet. In fact, the whole interior has remained virtually untouched through the years. In addition to the seat covers and carpet, the stock steering wheel is still in place and the AM/FM stereo (a step up from the AM/FM radio) provides the musical accompaniment.
Phyllis and her husband, Jim, use the shark for all kinds of events. They cruise it on sunny days, which are plentiful around their home in Cape Coral, Florida. Mostly, Phyllis drives the car to shows and cruise nights, but she's been known to pull into work or a store parking lot to give the passers-by a thrill.
Jim has plenty of Corvettes on his plate, too, with a '53 fuelie, a '63 convertible, and a C5 in the family collection. To help even the score, he recently purchased for Phyllis a '67 427 coupe, and offered to handle the restoration.
With its sleek shark lines, bright-as-the-sunshine exterior, and its top down soaking up rays, this Corvette is right at home.