Creating memories in a 427 Corvette Roadster
By Mike Boffo • Photography by Colin Date
My story of searching for, buying and restoring my 1967 Corvette Roadster goes back many, many years. It started after getting married, graduating from college and landing a full-time job. This is when I began my quest to find a mid-year Corvette as my daily driver. But let me begin the story years earlier so I can explain how I got to that point.
During the last two years of high school and the four years that I was in college, I worked part time in a gas station. We lived in an affluent area in northern New Jersey so I had plenty of opportunities to repair and drive high-end cars of the time. The mid-year Corvette was one of my favorites. Besides working at the gas station, I had my own small restoration and body shop and had developed a reputation in the area for doing fabrication and fiberglass repair on Corvettes.
With the help of my dad, I had also been buying, trading and selling cars from the age of twelve. By the third year of college, I owned a really nice 1970 Chevelle SS 396. I kept it for over a year until one of my friends wanted to buy it. After selling the Chevelle I was on the hunt for a Corvette.
After looking at over thirty Corvettes, I ran across an ad in the local newspaper that read, “1967 Corvette Roadster, new paint, low mileage.” By this time it was 1973 and the first oil embargo was in full swing. Muscle cars were not a high priority on anyone’s list except for a few crazy optimists who believed the oil embargo would pass. I was definitely one of them. I felt that this was a good time to look for deals on cars that no one else wanted.
I was looking for a small-block Corvette, since I had had the big-block Chevelle and knew I wanted road handling with performance. The Chevelle had been a great straight line performer but wasn’t much for cornering. When I went to look at the Corvette, it turned out that it was a big-block. I was disappointed, but the car was clean and although it had already been through six owners, it had never been wrecked or blown up, as many of the ones I looked at had been.
I negotiated a great deal and brought the car home. It needed a few minor things, but for the next three years it was my daily driver. My wife, Nancy and I took many weekend trips in the car and we thoroughly enjoyed it, even though it was a little cramped for luggage space.
The ’Vette had 3.08 gears, so the mileage wasn’t bad. On a trip we could average 15 mpg, which was about what I’d expect from a 427 engine. I always drove my cars as I felt the manufacturers had meant them to be driven. What’s the point of having 435 hp if you can’t wind it out every once in awhile? That thought process kind of did me in. I ended up blowing up the differential. It was side lined for over nine months while I waited for GM to locate a crated differential with 3.73 gears in it. In the meantime, we had purchased a new Chevy pickup, so that became my daily driver.
While the ’Vette was waiting for the differential, I decided to rebuild the motor and 4-speed transmission. I cleaned up and painted the engine bay, and by the time the differential showed up, the motor and transmission were back in the car. I rebuilt the front and rear suspension, installed the differential and after a year and a half, the ’Vette was finally back on the road.
Late in 1977, my wife and I decided to move to Florida. We packed up, moved and opened a “Big A” auto parts store early in 1978. I used the Corvette occasionally to drive to work but by now the paint was beginning to show its age. After our business was firmly established and we had two children, I could take a bit of a breather and decided to strip the car down and refinish it. And of course, what started out as a simple paint job ended up being a “frame on” eight year restoration.
The car had been painted in a red, white and blue theme but I wanted to go back to the original color, which was Goodwood Green. In 1989 I did some minor bodywork and sprayed the car. It looked great. I installed new black carpeting and re-upholstered the seats with new foam and black leather seat covers. All the outside chrome trim was replaced, which I had purchased from a local GM dealer. Since the engine had been rebuilt, it only needed a touch-up. The undercarriage was then cleaned, painted and detailed.
Fast-forward thirty-six years to today. After many car shows with my family and one memorable road trip with my son, it’s time to go through the ’Vette again. I’m amazed that the lacquer paint I applied held up as well as it has, but after years of use, it’s time for new paint, a few cosmetic details and a little mechanical tweaking. I’m just hoping that it won’t take eight years to go through the car again!
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