Back in the late '60s, it was determined that there were more possible build combinations of Chevrolets than there were molecules in the known universe. That determination (by researchers with too much time on their hands) was based on the number of passenger car lines in Chevy's lineup then (six), multiplied by the number of body styles in each line, and the number of factory options, interior combinations, and exterior color choices available. All that might help explain some Corvettes' original equipment-especially where a lot of convenience features appear on a car that's also equipped with a high-performance powertrain.
Such is the case with Greg Horton's L71-equipped '68 Corvette. "This car is loaded with stuff," he says from his Troy, Missouri, home. "Somebody ordered this car. There is no doubt in my mind that this guy in California (The first owner-Ed.) had to have ordered this car." That could be, or maybe that first owner bought a loaded example directly from the showroom floor.
As it is, Greg says there are some unusual options-unusual on a Shark built with the L71 435-horsepower 427 and an M-21 four-speed. "It has Speed Minder, which is pretty rare on these cars," he says. "It's got F41 suspension, A31 power windows, J50 power brakes, N36 red stripe tires, and P01 bright-metal wheel covers. The car has power steering on it, which looks to be factory. The pump's been changed, but it looks to be factory." Also factory: the spare tire, which Greg determined to be the original, once he pulled it from its mountings.
Greg says he found this C3 at a dealer that specializes in high-performance cars, but not necessarily Corvettes. "I bought it from a dealer in Oklahoma, who was more into Chevelles, Camaros, Mopars, and vintage-muscle stuff," he says of the dealer who'd scored this '68 from a collector in Arizona. Even though the dealer wasn't a Corvette specialist, Greg found plenty to document the car's history-all the way back to its build and delivery dates. "This car was originally delivered in Hawthorne, California, on January 5, 1968," he says. "The car's body build date was December 28, 1967. The engine was assembled at Tonawanda on December 12, 1967."
Greg-a Corvette collector who has a number of other high-output Vettes in his collection (all in red and/or black)-says that when he found it, he wasn't specifically looking for a first-year Shark with an L71. "I'd been looking for big-block Vettes, and I ran across this car," he says. "I called this guy, and he faxed me a bunch of stuff on this car-he wasn't a big Vette guy, so he didn't know much about it, though he did have a lot of information and he checked a lot of stuff on it."
One big item that was unchecked: the three-Holley-two-barrel carburetors and the linkage that topped the Tonawanda-built 427. "I remember that the biggest thing he complained about was how hard it was to get it to run right because of the tri-power," Greg recalls. "He couldn't get it to stage right-he said. 'I'm having a hell of a time getting this to run.'" The solution: Bring the Shark to some master mechanics with experience troubleshooting multiple-carburetor systems. "I took it to a couple buddies of mine that are old-school mechanics, who can make anything purr," says Greg. "It didn't take much at all-it was a matter of rebuilding the carbs, but a couple of other things were not exactly right. We took care of that problem, got 'em tuned a little bit better, and it now runs like a top."
Or, more precisely, it runs the way a '68 Corvette with about 32,000 original miles should run. What's it like to drive? Greg compares it with another Mark IV V8-equipped Vette in his collection, a '66 L72. "The difference is, on fast acceleration, it's not as quick in response as a single-four-barrel car, but it has that ability to keep going, and I don't know if you want to get where it ends. It keeps pulling as long as you have your foot in it. As long as you're willing to stay there, it'll keep on pulling."