1967 Chevrolet Corvette Roadster - Persistence Pays Off

After 18 Years Of Coaxing, Roger Clouse Finally Got His 427/435 Vette

Barry Kluczyk Apr 1, 2004 0 Comment(s)
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Behind every vintage Corvette is a story, and the one behind this stunning red 427/435 '67 roadster goes like this: Roger Clouse, like many guys just two or three years out of high school, was stilling sowing his wild oats. It was 1970, and he'd just received his license back from the state of Michigan-they'll take it away for street racing, you know.

Anyhow, while at a gas station in the tiny northern Michigan-burg of Tawas, Roger was just finishing filling his new "gutless" Cutlass when a red '67 427 Corvette rumbled into the Clark station. Enraptured by the Vette, Roger told the owner that whenever the car went up for sale, he wanted first dibs. The owner wasn't ready to sell, but it was a small community and during the next few years, Roger and Vette continued to cross paths.

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"The next time I saw it, the front bumpers were off and it showed obvious signs of being raced," says Roger. "Later on, a hole got punched in the rear fender by a farmer's hay rake." Despite the car's seeming deterioration, Roger's enthusiasm for the rare Vette never waned. "It was a red, 435-horse roadster with that big-block hood," he says. "How could you not love it?"

Much to Roger's dismay, the car was eventually sold to the owner's brother-in-law. Rather than drive the powerful plastic supercar, the brother-in-law built a wooden storage shed for it (an unheated, dirt-floor shed at that)-not a good way to store a car in rust-breeding Michigan. Once sealed in its drafty prison, the Vette languished, but it wasn't forgotten.

"I knew where the car was, but the new owner wouldn't even consider selling it," Roger says. "He wouldn't even let people look at it."

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The new owner's all-too-common answers to Roger's requests to buy the Vette were answered with, "I'm gonna restore it someday."

Roger kept grinding away at the owner's indefinite resto deadline, and, in 1988, he bribed the guy with a 12-pack of beer to at least come over and check out the car. With some friends along to perform a casual inspection, the Vette was found to be filthy and smelly, but otherwise sound.

"We had to remove trees that had grown up just to get to the doors of the shed," says Roger. "Once the doors were open, it was a shocking sight; all the tires were flat, the back window was so grimy you couldn't see out of it, and there was a mice nest in the glovebox."

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Although still reluctant to sell, the owner tossed out a price and with his friends' assurance of the car's sound chassis. Roger agreed on the spot. (We should note that in 1988, Corvettes and all Detroit muscle cars were commanding astronomical prices, regardless of condition, and Roger's transaction may qualify as the steal of the century.)

So, 18 years after he first laid eyes on the 435-horse roadster, the Glennie, Michigan, resident finally had his dream Vette-albeit a lot more beaten up than the first day he encountered it. With the car safely in his garage, Roger started researching it. It turns out he wasn't the third owner, but the seventh!

Originally, the car was driven by a GM employee who put on about 2,500 miles in a couple of months. Technically, he didn't own the car, but he was the first to have possession of it. The car was purchased through Draper Chevrolet by a gentleman who worked with that first "owner."

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By late 1968, the car was sold again, this time to a man who insisted on having the luggage rack removed. But, due to a knee injury suffered in an accident with a different Corvette, the owner couldn't drive the '67. It was sold less than a year later to a used car lot in Saginaw, Michigan. A few days later, it was purchased by an enthusiast who made the drive-in/burger-stand cruise scene in Bay City and Saginaw his regular haunts.

But, like many muscle car enthusiasts in the day, the insurance premiums for the 427 roadster proved too steep. It was traded in at Schafer Chevrolet in April 1970. That's where "original" owner that Roger knew picked it up.

In 1990, Roger had the means for a proper restoration and the car was shipped to Nabors Motors in Texas. A few months later, he picked up the car and took it straight to an NCRS show in Georgia, where it received its first Top Flight award. In 1991, it received its Bloomington Gold certificate. And though the car continues to garner first-place trophies, Roger intends on capturing the "triple crown."

0404vette_08_z 1967_chevrolet_corvette_roadster Headlights 6/10

In all its years, and through all its owners, the Vette's odometer hasn't yet reached the 30,000-mile mark. Nabors' restoration was extensive, but the car was sound and very original. The L71 427 is a numbers-matching motor and, like most Vettes in '67, it's backed by a four-speed transmission. The rearend houses stock 3.55 gears.

During the restoration, Roger added side pipes and a tinted windshield, but otherwise the car is fitted exactly as it left the factory. Of all the '67 Corvettes, only 3,754 boasted the tri-carbed L71 427, and only 2,341 were dipped in Rally Red paint. This makes Roger's Vette a rare example in any book.

After 18 years of persistence and the extensive resto, you shouldn't be surprised to learn that Roger insists the car will never be for sale again. Forever is a long time, but as he's proved, Roger Clouse can wait.

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