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1969 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible - Beginner's Luck

Don't You Wish Your First Corvette Was A Numbers-Matching L46?

Kevin Shaw May 1, 2006
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Andy Tullos of Lawrenceville, Georgia, might be new to the league of Corvette owners, but he's no novice when it comes to owning and wrenching on classic American machinery. Andy owns a classic '68 RS Camaro and a '91 Mustang GT, one of the last 5.0L fox-body pony cars. A professional landscaper by trade, Andy was able to sit behind his computer screen and search for a new arrow for his automotive quiver. The accessibility of musclecars, classics, and rare auto parts on the internet has revolutionized the enthusiast marketplace. What used to take years of wild goose chasing and hunting for the car of your dreams can now be done online in the comfort of your own home, which is how Andy discovered this L46 350ci, 350-horse small-block cruiser.

This '69 convertible was built in October 1968 and sold new from Ed Rinke Chevrolet in Centerline, Michigan. Bolted together from the factory with the stout L46 engine option, a close-ratio four-speed manual transmission was mated to it to row the gears as the 3.70 posi boils the 15x8, G-60 Firestone Redlines to inky goop. The car would pass through three different pairs of hands before it would land in Andy's garage (the first time the Corvette would leave Michigan). the Protect-O-Plate was included in the transaction, along with the original tank sticker, and each and every scrap of paper, which would lead a trail all the way back to the original owner-Mr. P. Fitzgerald, who was savvy enough to order the Corvette with lots of performance options.

The previous owner before Andy had begun to conduct his own restoration on the L46. The LeMans Blue paint was reapplied, and the 350 was sent to Wolffies Competition Engines in Baroda, Michigan. There, the engine would be rebuilt and returned to the factory 11:1 compression specs that it left the factory with. Everything imaginable was gone over in the Corvette's engine, including the single four-barrel carburetor. When Andy began to finish what was started, he found that really only the smallest of details needed fine-tuned. His eye for detail helped him in restoring the engine compartment, bringing its original luster back with OEM and reproduced parts, all in an effort to bring the L46 back to nearly perfect condition. Andy also attacked the interior, replacing the carpet and detailing the dash and door panels. The bumpers and external trim were rechromed and straightened, as well.

Andy didn't feel too inclined to modify the Corvette since it came from the factory with so many amenities. Aside from the Turbo-Jet 350 and four-speed, the convertible came with a black soft top, as well as a removable black vinyl hardtop, head restraints, AM/FM push-button radio, tinted glass, audio alarm system, and a bright blue vinyl interior. before Andy took possession of the LeMans Blue drop-top, one of the previous owners had installed period-correct side pipes. Andy has no plans to remove them as he says, "a Corvette is not a Corvette without the side pipes."

When Andy got the Corvette, the only change to the suspension were replacement shocks. Even the clutch assembly was all but stock, with only the clutch itself needing an exchange. Andy's hand in the restoration was really only minor upkeep, replacing minor parts that were easily located and installed. So much so, that all of Andy's work was done in-house and by himself.

Future plans for the Corvette include detailing and rebuilding the four-speed gearbox and suspension. he wants to keep the convertible as close to the factory as he can since it is such a rare optioned car.

Recently the Corvette won the Super Chevy Show in Commerce for the third year in a row, as well as being a finalist in the Dale Earnhardt Legacy Car Show series. The awards and accolades keep coming for this mighty mouse small-block and its new-to-the-Corvette-world owner, Andy, who is loving every minute of it.

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