We all get our chance at short-lived fame, or so the saying goes. For Gaby Bouchard of LaSalle, Quebec, his '64 Corvette has brought him more pleasure-and notoriety-than he ever imagined. The unique Saddle Tan coupe has achieved near star status in Canada as the centerpiece of a 10-minute segment on the Auto Mag Plus television program, a feature vehicle in Canadian Classic magazine, and the coveting looks of his local car club friends. But the restoration of the beautiful coupe took time, money, and plenty of winter project planning to complete. The result is a Corvette "truly restored to my taste," says Gaby, who, despite the high-quality restoration, drives the coupe as often as possible including regular treks from Quebec to Corvettes at Carlisle in Pennsylvania.
A fan of Corvettes since the age of 7, Gaby set his sights on owning one as the pinnacle of car heaven. His dream was slightly delayed with the purchase of a 426ci Hemi-powered 'Cuda, but he still longed for a Corvette. In October 1992, he purchased this coupe with the help of Serge Gauthier, president of the local Corvette club. Its most unique feature is the automatic transmission, a required component for Gaby who wanted his wife, Terry, to also drive this beautiful car. A rare option that year, only 2,480 cars were equipped with automatic transmissions.
The coupe has become a labor of love for Gaby who has gone through and restored many of the car's features, including the Saddle Tan paint in 1993, a year after taking ownership. At the time of purchase, the Corvette was painted black, and Gaby was uncertain whether to repaint it black again or go with the original Saddle Tan as designated by the trim tag. The choice of going original turned out to be a good one.
The progression of the Corvette from "nothing extraordinary" to "amazing" took a number of years and a methodical plan to turn the car into a showstopper. Originally a California-delivered Corvette, the second owner purchased it from the original owner (a doctor who bought it for his son) and drove it north to Quebec. The car was clearly well traveled and required considerable cleanup and general restoration. Despite the hard work, Gaby prides himself on creating the ultimate driver and, when the weather allows, he takes to the road for some "fun, fun, fun."
Working mainly during the winter to avoid missing any sunny summer cruise events, Gaby replaced the carpet, revitalized the gauge cluster, and restored the teakwood steering wheel and console. He then worked on the drivetrain, starting with the replacement. The 365hp engine was transplanted from a '65 Corvette. All of the engine parts were cleaned and refreshed, with a new hydraulic camshaft coming from General Motors. For added zap in cold-start situations, Gaby upgraded with an MSD ignition. The engine was rebuilt by Zeke's Performance and the transmission was carefully upgraded with a Matech torque converter and a homemade shift kit. The side pipes are all GM with factory manifolds and mufflers.
Gaby's Corvette is the stuff of dreams. While the fame and adulation from his car club buddies are terrific side benefits, the bonds built working with friends like Normand Turcotte are priceless. The unique Saddle Tan coupe has found a great home in Gaby's garage. Watch for more upgrades soon as the coupe looks for more fame during Corvette cruising season in LaSalle.