Terry Kriss is a car collector in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He has owned many Corvettes, mostly pre-’67 editions. When his longtime friend, George Ringeisen, called last summer with a lead on a first-year C3 Vette being offered through an estate sale, Kriss replied that he really wasn’t into ’68 models.
Ringeisen said, “I think you’ll like this car.”
Kriss warmed up to the prospect when Ringeisen mentioned the car’s 435-horse Tri-power 427.
“I said, ‘OK, this story is getting better.’”
Ringeisen explained that the car only had 7,800 original miles and had been stored in a garage for the last 35 years. The T-top coupe featured a four-speed and a 4.11 Positraction rearend, and it was still wearing the factory Silverstone Silver paint.
“George asked if he had my interest,” says Kriss. “I told him he had my full attention.”
Then, the story got really good. The Vette had been sold brand-new at Yenko Chevrolet in nearby Canonsburg, Pennsylvania. Yenko, of course, is the Chevy dealership famous for building the 427 COPO Camaro SYC, as well as an assortment of 427-powered Chevelle Supercars and Novas. Less known and even rarer are the Yenko-built Corvettes of the late ’60s. These cars didn’t bear a unique SYC name, but they did come with a 427 that didn’t need to be special-ordered through COPO (since that particular engine was an RPO on the Vette at the time).
The estate was ready to sell the car and invited Kriss to come have a look. When he arrived he was stunned to find a real time capsule. But what exactly was this ’68? The key issue was the Yenko heritage. Paperwork and provenance proved without question that Yenko Supercars built this car brand-new for a customer, rather than modifying it as a used vehicle after delivery.
The special Yenko-added features include Atlas five-spoke wheels, a Baldwin-Motion fresh-air fiberglass hood, a special progressive linkage for the three two-barrel carburetors, and side pipes (not then available on the Corvette option sheet). Yenko filled the two exhaust-pipe outlets in the rear valance for a full factory appearance.
“The original owner did not throw anything out. He had the bill of sale, the Protect-O-Plate, and even the original Corvette order form,” says Kriss.
The seller explained that his late brother, the original owner, drove the Vette “sparingly” during his first four to five years of ownership and then put it in storage. Kriss believes the car was “well hidden,” meaning nobody seemed to know anything about it. Unfortunately, he took just one low-resolution digital image of the car in its hiding place in a “dry, dark garage.”
“I wanted to get the car loaded and be on my way before somebody changed their mind, or a neighbor showed up and started crying about how it had been promised to him,” Kriss says.
Kriss put the Vette through a “gentle washing,” but wisely did no restoration work whatsoever. He prepped the 427 before starting it, installing new plugs, servicing the brakes and master cylinder, cleaning the carburetors, and changing the oil and fluids. Primed with gasoline, the big Tri-power fired right up.
“It runs like a new car,” says Kriss. Even better, it cleaned up to look near mint inside and out.
In all likelihood, Terry Kriss has found the lowest-mileage—and possibly the best all-around—unrestored Yenko Corvette in existence.