Wearing a Chevy Bow Tie cap with flames and a white T-shirt with the Corvette name and crossed flags emblazoned across the front, Flip Bost sits quietly, babysitting his Torch Red '69 Corvette beneath the show-car tent on the grounds of the '04 Corvette Expo in Knoxville, Tennessee. It's as if he really doesn't get how stunning his car is or how well he's done at creating this flashy Stingray convertible.
"Sir, is this your car?" we ask."Yes, sir.""We'd like to photograph your convertible for Corvette Fever."
Flip pops out of his chair as if to say, I thought you'd never ask. He thanks us humbly for considering his Corvette out of so many in attendance. But the best surprise was yet to come, as we got a chance to look closely at this amazing car.
As we spoke, Flip's story began to unfold. First, he isn't one to turn over a car to a shop with some vague restoration directions. Flip fondly mentioned his buddies who get together every Tuesday after work for "Bow Tie night" in Statesville, North Carolina. Two years ago, with help from these friends, Flip formulated his strategy for the build.
"I just always wanted a nice Corvette to show," he says. "The car had never been wrecked. It was in great shape when we started. So it was a great car to do. That's why I chose to go ahead and do it."
After driving the convertible for 17 years, Flip knew its history well. Originally, his '69 was a 350ci/350hp-powered car-clearly not a top dog in the engine lineup in the musclecar era. However, the first owner obviously special-ordered this convertible purely for performance. How else do you come up with a side-pipe/four-speed with 4.11 gears and no power-robbing accessory and comfort extras under the hood?
This was a man's Corvette. For Flip, it became a starting point for his dream build. He says, "I wanted to keep the original body lines, but I wanted kind of a modern look. That's what everybody is doing today."
Of course, there's a difference between wanting something and getting it. Modifying a car is primarily about creating the right look. Side pipes obviously enhance the lowered appearance. The brightwork really pops out against the sparkling red paint. Lowering was easy. In front, Flip cut out a coil and a half. In back, he installed longer bolts in the leaf springs.
Flip went all-out under the hood. He chose a 383ci stroker motor from PSA in California. He estimates the powerplant has 470-500 hp, the fruits of installing Edelbrock Performer heads, an Edelbrock Performer intake, a Holley 770 Street Avenger carb, and an MSD ignition.
The Muncie M21 remains, now stirred by a Hurst Competition Plus shifter. The 4.10 gears really deliver the engine torque.
"We took the car and totally stripped it all the way down," Flip says. "We put in all new glass, top, interior, console, seats, everything, then we put a PPG basecoat/clearcoat Torch Red paint job back on."
Torch Red came from the C5 generation. Flip bought an '03 Corvette in the same color, with a matching black cloth top. He says the two look good together.
We wonder which Corvette can get to 60 mph first and which can run the quarter in the lowest elapsed time.
Flip isn't talking.