1975 Chevrolet Corvette - Green Machine

Kevin Smith's 14,000-Mile C3 Is One Very Sharp Time Capsule

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It turned out that the chief's son bought the car brand new but, unfortunately, passed away from Hodgkin's disease a few years later. "He and his father were close, and when he passed away, his father kept the Vette in his garage for 20 years. He'd just drive it around the block, pull it back in the garage, and leave it there." That was why, when he went over to look at it, the first thing he noticed was that it still had the original tires on it.

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Kevin also noticed something else about the '75. "The front and rear bumper colors were almost yellow, and they had cracked quite a bit," he recalls. And, after he'd bought the Shark and was driving it himself, he noticed that those covers would crack a little more each time that he drove it. Fortunately, at a Vette show at a dealership on Long Beach Island, he found out how to keep his Vette's color the same from bumper to bumper. "They'd emptied the showroom out and moved all these exotic Corvettes in there. Almost every one of them had custom paint by Rob English. I said, 'Wow, I could never afford something like this-look at the jobs the guy does.'" Fellow show-goers told Kevin that Rob was a nice guy who'd work with him, and Vettes were all he painted. Kevin said he was going to repaint the whole car after replacing the bumper covers, but Rob told him not to. "He was the one who said, 'You'll never find paint like this again. Let me paint the front and back covers, and I'll fade it in and match the colors.'" As you can see, the '75 doesn't look like it's had any paintwork done to it. "I dare you to find the difference," Kevin says of Rob's work. "He really did a fabulous job!"

Items like the belts, hoses, and spark plugs have also been replaced over time, as were the OEM tires. That happened soon after the first time Kevin showed his Shark. "People came up to me and asked, 'How far did you drive to get here?' and I said, 'About 60 miles.' They said, 'You'd better be careful, because these tires dry-rot from the inside, not the outside.'" Kevin may not have taken their concerns seriously at first, but those tires started ballooning outward on his way home. "That was the end of those tires," he says, noting that it was a good thing they didn't blow out. "The Garden State Parkway was the road I had to take for 60 miles, so I would have been going about 60 miles an hour, and there would've been fiberglass all over the road."

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What's this Vette like to drive? "It's like brand new," Kevin says. "It only has, right now, about 14,000 miles on it. The engine, trans, rear end-everything is brand new, completely the way it was."

Though this is his first Vette, it isn't his first performance-oriented Chevy-he's had a 396-powered Camaro, and a full-size '63 that he turned into a muscle car. But he's got something to say to those who don't know Vettes and their history. "People say to me, 'Is it fast?' And all I say to them is, 'It's a Vette!' And I leave it at that." He adds, "In that car, I don't go 60-65 (mph) in it anyway, but I wish I could say that I was pushing 350 (hp) or something. It's hard to believe that a new Impala has more horsepower than me, but I tell people, 'It's a Vette!'"

Kevin considers his C3 to be a real time capsule. "It was the first year of catalytic converters and the emission controls that led us to today, and the first year with electronic ignitions. It seems like that was when technology started to strive forward." And, when it comes to the Corvette, strive forward it did.

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