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1968 Vette Coupe - Shark Survivor

This two-owner '68 wears its originality proudly

Scott Ross Dec 28, 2012
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Sometimes, the best Corvette restoration projects are the ones that aren't done. That includes Jack Corso's L68 427-powered '68 Corvette coupe, which--outside of one seat repair and plenty of cleaning--is just the way it was when he found it. Corso had been looking for a documented high-performance Vette when he spotted this one about 10 years ago. "I'm a big fan of any kind of emblem or badge, like a '427' or an 'LT-1' that sets it apart from a stock 300-horse car," he says. He'd recently sold a '66 Sting Ray and was looking for another Corvette for his collection. "This car fit my budget, and it was pretty much complete and unmolested, with the documentation that the owner stated that he had," he recalls. "I just rolled the dice, and the guy sounded really honest. We made a deal on a Wednesday, and he brought it down in an enclosed trailer the following day." The Vette's owner, a long-haul truck driver and lobster farmer from Maine, bought the '68 in Detroit and hauled it home as a restoration project, but he hadn't done anything to it before listing it for sale. "It looked a little rough, but it hadn't been abused," says Corso of the 53,000-original-mile car that rolled out of the seller's trailer.

Included was documentation going all the way back to St. Louis Assembly, including the car's tank sticker, Protect-O-Plate, and other items that attested to its original-equipment list. In addition to the hydraulic-lifter, 400hp, Tri-power 427, the '68 was optioned with a Muncie M-20 four-speed, power steering and brakes, Positraction, an AM/FM radio, and P02 full wheel covers. Its International Blue finish was the fourth-rarest '68 Corvette factory color.

Once the car was in Corso's garage, he sought out expert help from NCRS Master Judge and Bloomington Gold judge Sal Carbone. "I asked him to evaluate the car for me," says Corso. "He looked at it for about an hour to an hour-and-a-half and said, 'Jack, if you bring this out to Bloomington, it'll be certified as a Survivor within the first 15 minutes. It's that much of a Survivor-level car.'"

Corso then performed a thorough cleaning on the car, which revealed its original factory chalk and paint-dab markings from its trip down the assembly line. It also showed off that rare shade of blue on the C3's all-original, never-hit body. "On a scale of 1 to 10, it's probably a five or a six," he says of the original acrylic lacquer finish. "But, from 10 feet away, the car looks fantastic."

Inside, however, one item did need replacing: a torn driver-side seat cover. "I called Al Knoch, and he was kind enough to make just one seat cover for me," recalls Corso. "I took the entire seat out of the car and took it to an upholstery shop. They did a nice job putting the new cover on, [but] they threw out the old one, which I wanted to keep. Unfortunately, they didn't think that it had any value." The rest of the '68's original interior, including its nylon loop-pile carpeting, had plenty of value, and it remains in the car to this day.

Along with plenty of value, Corso's Shark also has plenty of power, thanks to that triple- carbed 427 under its hood. Says Corso, "You're riding on that middle two-barrel, and then you kick in the other two two-barrels, and you get some real nice high-end torque out of these cars." He uses 100-octane, low-lead aviation gas in the car instead of pump fuel, since it sits for long periods of time between showings, and today's pump gas can deteriorate.

Corso has found that when he does show the car, other Vette enthusiasts who love original, unrestored ones are drawn to it. "What I really like about it is that a lot more people nowadays appreciate the Survivor-type cars, and they get more attention than they used to get in the past," says Corso. "People like to see them before they're restored."

What does he say to those who'd rather see fresh paint instead of original patina? "There's no way in the world that I would paint it, because it's only original once. I'd rather enjoy it as it is, and look at the folks who come by [to see it], and really appreciate what it is. That outweighs the urge to paint it, or to go and do something crazy to it."

He adds, "I'm very pleased with what the car is. It gathers quite a lot of spectators when I take it out--and people see it the way it's supposed to be."

Spec Sheet

'68 Coupe
Owner Jack Corso; New Brunswick, NJ
Block Stock L68 iron, PN 3916321 (casting date L277/November 27, 1967)
Displacement 427 ci
Heads Stock L68 iron (PN 3917215)
Valves Stock
Camshaft Stock hydraulic
Pistons Stock forged aluminum
Crankshaft Stock cast-iron
Rods Stock forged steel
Oil System Stock with mechanical pump
Intake Stock Tri-power aluminum, CN 3919850
Carburetion Stock Holley two-barrels; two R3659s (GM PN 3902353) front and rear, single R4055A (GM PN 3925517) in the middle
Fuel Pump Stock mechanical
Ignition Stock RPO K66 Delco transistorized ignition
Exhaust System Stock with OEM manifolds and mufflers
Transmission Stock RPO M20 Muncie four-speed manual
Rearend Stock with RPO G81 Positraction and 3.36 gears
Driveshaft Stock
Suspension Stock coil springs, control arms, sway bar, and Delco shocks (front); stock independent with lateral struts, control arms, transverse leaf springs, and Delco shocks (rear)
Brakes Stock RPO J50 four-wheel discs with power assist
Wheels Stock 15x7 steel Rallys with RPO P01 full covers
Tires Stock RPO PT6 Goodyear F70-15 bias-ply red-stripe
Current Mileage Approximately 54,150



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