Written by independent automotive journalist David Neyens
Introduced for 1968, the third-generation or “C3” Corvette was heavily inspired by the radical Mako Shark II concept car of 1965, designed by Larry Shinoda at Bill Mitchell’s GM Styling studios and unveiled at the 1965 Paris Auto Show.
While the new Corvette was originally intended for launch as a 1967 model, development challenges and many last-minute changes – compounded by Chief Engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov’s hospitalization in 1967 – delayed the new car’s debut to the 1968 model year. The headaches were worth it, though, with the third-generation Corvette going on to enjoy 15 years in production and serving as America’s fastest production car for much of that lengthy run. Sales for 1968 were strong, totaling 28,566 units – 25 percent greater than the year before and a new record.
Consequently, third-generation Corvettes have figured prominently at car shows and concours events, including the annual Bloomington Gold Corvette shows. Established in 1973, Bloomington Gold is decidedly different from other top Corvette events with its unique scoring system that allows entries to be judged on their own merits with a focus on each vehicle’s strengths and individual character, rather than pitting cars and their owners against each other.
In 2020, Bloomington Gold’s organizers recognized the fast-growing trend toward modernized Resto-Mod Corvettes by including them in a special class for judging and awards for the first time. As stated by Bloomington Gold, Resto-Mod Certification “…recognizes the seamless integration of today’s possibilities into yesterday’s performers by applying today’s capabilities and styling enhancements that result in improved styling, handling, performance and comfort to modern standards while retaining a classical original design.” If a Corvette is modified more than 50 percent in all four sections – including engine, chassis, exterior and interior – it can now qualify for Bloomington Gold Resto-Mod Certification, opening up this renowned event and its prestigious awards to a whole new spectrum of modified Corvettes and their many enthusiasts.
This 1968 Chevrolet Corvette custom convertible (Lot #1431) offered with No Reserve at the March 2021 Scottsdale Auction is one of the very first cars of its kind to ever receive Bloomington Gold certification, with this honor earned at the September 2020 Bloomington Gold event held at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. A true frame-off restoration and build with every nut and bolt replaced, this stunner rides on a custom Chassis Concepts frame equipped with a “C7” Corvette suspension system, differential and brakes for modern handling capabilities far beyond the original specification.
Power is delivered by a Kinsler fuel-injected 598ci V8 engine developing over 1,054 horsepower, built by McGunegill Engine Performance, the renowned racing-engine builders from Muncie, Indiana. Featuring vintage-style velocity stacks on top and billet goodies underneath an aggressive L88-style hood scoop, this wicked engine is paired to a TREMEC 6-speed manual transmission and breathes deeply through a set of handcrafted stainless-steel headers feeding a large-diameter dual exhaust system, including a built-in muffler bypass valve.
The luxurious yet racy full-custom red and black cockpit by Paul Atkins Interiors is a masterpiece in itself, including diamond-pattern seat inserts and door panels, plus a custom console, shift boot and dash. A set of OEM 2019 Corvette Z06 wheels and tires seamlessly completes the modern look. This no-expense-spared build was completed in just under three years, designed to maintain classic original ’68 Corvette looks with the performance of a racing car, while running on 97 octane pump gas.
Simply stunning on all possible counts, it also enjoys historic status as one of the first Resto-Mod Corvettes ever to earn coveted Bloomington Gold certification.