When Matt brought the '67 home to Kansas, his neighbors-including those familiar with his Corvette exploits-heard about it in a big way at about 2 a.m. "When I fired it up to put it in the house, it sounded like John Force just lit the candles on his funny car." Not only that, says Matt with a big laugh, all the neighbors' lights came on-and his wife, Carol, ran inside their house!
Just as hot as the candles on a nitro-burning race car is the shade of red on this Midyear. You won't find it on any paint-maker's palette. "It's Rich's own paint formula, and it's the most beautiful red that I've ever seen," Matt says. "It just draws people to it like a magnet. When I go to a show and place the car there, everyone stops what they're doing, comes over, and looks at that car."
And show it he does. "I've won multiple Best of Show awards with it," Matt says. "I've won GM Appreciation Awards and People's Choice Awards with it. Every place that I've ever taken that car, it makes people's jaws drop." That also included an invitation to be in the "Chip's Choice" display at Corvettes at Carlisle.
Matt also points out that the '67's change of home enabled more Vette lovers and show-goers to see it than before. "One of the good things about buying the '67 from Rich was that it would be in a different part of the country, where other people could enjoy it. I've showed it in Kansas City, Texas, Nebraska, Oklahoma-any place that I've taken the car. People's jaws just drop when I roll that car out."
Matt's enjoyment of this Midyear isn't limited to showing it. Rich built the '67 to drive, and Matt enjoys the time he spends in it on the road. "The car is totally awesome!" he says when asked what it's like to drive. "It actually does drive like a new Corvette. First of all, the sound of the 502 big-block through the side pipes is just music. It is incredible."
Then there's the handling. "With the VBP suspension system under it, the car steers, drives, and feels like it has 50/50 weight distribution," says Matt. "The '67 handles like it's on rails-it corners flat, and it stays flat as a pancake around corners, while smoothing out the bumps in the road." But that's not all. "It has tremendous power, and as long as I'm hooked up, it goes exactly where I point it. But it'll quickly overpower the back tires."
If the idea of having a modern, high-tech, Pro Classic Vette Rod in your garage overpowers your previous Corvette dreams, Matt says, "Go for drivability and improvement of the ride." He adds, "I have a completely-original '65 Corvette convertible that I drive, and it drives like a pickup truck compared to this."
If you're a regular Corvette Fever reader, you've no doubt seen Rich Lagasse's handiwork, especially in the stories about the build of his '63 Sting Ray "Split Personality" coupe. Matt says of the friend who sold him the '67, "Rich's idea of it going to a good home was big. He could've sold that car for a lot more money than what he sold it to me for." He adds this about Rich and his wife Barb. "They're just the sweetest, most down-to-earth honest people that I've met in my life. They have integrity and all those good things. I not only benefitted by getting this wonderful car, but a wonderful friend at the same time."
But don't ask Rich how to get that shade of red that's on his '63 and Matt's '67. "He's willing to share any of his ideas other than the color of the paint, because he keeps that to himself," says Matt. "When I bought the car, the section in the build files that had to do with the paint color was empty. I scratched the oil pan one time, and I needed to repaint it. I did get the color, but I had to do the double-dare, cross-your-heart, never-tell kind of thing to get it!"