I was quietly working on my stories for Power Wheels Magazine when I received an online message from Vegas Cars in the USA about a 1968 Chevrolet Corvette convertible that they have on sale. I’ve been subscribed to numerous online newsletters here and abroad that sends me an email whenever an interesting collector car becomes available. Even though I don’t have the disposable funds or the space to park any of these collectible automobiles at the moment, it’s just fun to know these cars are available. Besides, dreaming about buying these beautiful cars is free, so there.
The luscious little red Corvette (R.I.P. The Artist Formerly Known As Prince) was shown with a 350 cubic-inch (5.7-liter) Small Block Chevy V8 fed by a single 4-barrel carburetor. It looked thoroughly original with its 15×8 steel Rally wheels with chrome trim and “Mexican Hat” center caps wrapped in F60-15 redline tires. It had a single long-stalk chrome side mirror and the hood was the standard version without any domes, scoops or power bulges. The four slots on the lower part of the front fenders indicate that this Corvette is indeed a 1968 model.
Local Corvette with a Bigger Engine
After salivating over the numerous photos of the red ‘Vette, I suddenly had the urge to dig through my digital photo files of a similar 1968 Corvette convertible that is here in the Philippines. I first saw this Corvette in 2009 when I was having some mechanical refurbishment done on my 1971 Chevy Camaro RS at the workshop of Ben Lim in Cainta, east of Manila. I wandered off into his garage and saw his personal collection of nice American cars including his 1968 Corvette convertible 427. The red “plastic fantastic” American sports car was sitting there sans its top and sandwiched between a 1960’s BMW R27 motorcycle and a 1968 Pontiac Firebird convertible.
According to Ben Lim, under the Corvette’s domed and scooped hood is a 427 cubic-inch (7.0-liter) Big Block Chevy V8 with a Tri Power carburetor set-up, where three two-barrel carburetors feed the big V8 with the required air-and-fuel mixture to churn out an advertised 400 horsepower. However, he didn’t clarify whether it was a L68 or L71 427 V8, or whether it was running or not. All I can see was it had black interior and was sitting on a set of what looked like 15×8 Rally wheels. Ben quickly brushed aside my inquiries about the Corvette and herded me back to my Camaro. A few months later, his workshop was inundated with 10-foot high floodwaters in the aftermath of Typhoon Ondoy. All his cars went under water including the Corvette.
Cleaned, Kept and Then Sold
After the devastation of Typhoon Ondoy, Ben Lim started cleaning all the cars and motorcycles in his collection. It took him a lot of time and money but after a few months, he was able to clean the gunk off his collection so he could bring them back to working condition again. Unfortunately, Ben was asked to move his workshop because the place he was renting was sold by the owner. He moved to a smaller warehouse that he converted to his workshop and residence but then Ben was dealt with another blow. He had a serious physical condition while his son Bodie broke some bones in a motorcycle accident.
In late 2016, Ben kept teasing me that since my daughter’s nickname is “Vette”, I should buy his 1968 Corvette 427 and restore it for her. I asked how much he’s willing to part with it, and his reply was P2.3 Million. He ventured that I could put a cool million as a downpayment and then pay off the remainder over some time. It was really tempting but, at the time, my magazine business was struggling so I didn’t have the funds. And even if I did, I’d have to pay off some company debts first before I could indulge myself in another Project Car. Eventually, I learned that Ben accepted a 1980’s third-generation Camaro as a downpayment for his red Corvette. To this date, I still don’t know if the little red Corvette 427 has changed hands. I guess I’ll find out soon.