Friday, May 25, 2018

The Corvette Hunter: Kevin Mackay's Greatest Corvette Finds

Becoming The Corvette Hunter

It all started back in 1981 with a plan to do a 100%-correct restoration on a 1965 small-block Corvette Kevin Mackay purchased after selling his '64 convertible.

And so, with parts list in hand, Kevin traveled from swap meet to swap meet until every single correctly-identified nut and bolt was found.

After two years of work, the '65 was completed and Kevin took it to one of the largest Corvette shows in the New York/New Jersey area. Luminaries in attendance included Zora Arkus-Duntov and Larry Shinoda.

But perhaps more importantly—at least for Kevin—also present was Ed Mueller, a respected and well-known car collector.

When Mueller asked Kevin, "What shop did the work?" Kevin answered, "I did the car myself." Mueller handed Kevin his business card and told him, "If you ever open your own business, I want to be your customer."

Kevin's 1965 Corvette won "Best in Show" out of the 100-car field. Not too shabby for a Vette restored in a New York backyard.

For the next three years, Kevin enjoyed his '65 Corvette until he got laid off from his job as a mechanic for the City of New York.

While working for the city, Kevin had also been working on local Corvettes out of his parent's house, and work continued to increase. So, instead of getting another regular job, Kevin decided to open his own business in a rented one-bay garage near his home in Valley Stream, NY.

The year was 1985 and Corvette Repair was born.

Opening Shop

A phone call to Ed Mueller provided Kevin with his first customer. Mueller sent Mackay his 1969 ZL1, one of only two built and one of the rarest on the planet.

To say that Mueller was pleased with Kevin's work would be an understatement. He sent one car after another for the next seventeen years in a row!

But it was Mueller's mentorship that prompted Mackay to start looking for more desirable Corvettes which led him to a black-on-red 1967 427/435 Coupe in March 1988. That car was also known as the Bounty Hunter.

After restoring it, Mackay sold the Bounty Hunter to Ed Mueller in order to buy out his business partner to gain control of Corvette Repair. Upon completion of the deal, Kevin started poring over Vette publications looking for information about what he considered the greatest Vette option package ever offered: RPO L88.

As he continued his education by reading magazine articles about the famous L88 cars at Daytona, Sebring, and even LeMans, it hit him like a ton of bricks... he had never seen or heard of most of these cars in present times.

Where were they?

What happened to them?

Thus the search for famous RPO L88 race cars began.


The Chase

Finding long-lost race cars is hard work. It involves months or even years of research. Hours upon hours of phone calls and chasing questionable leads, only to discover that cars were stolen, destroyed, or burned to the ground.

Author Tyler Greenblatt does a fantastic job bringing Mackay's Corvette stories to life. Stories that are fascinating as well as entertaining.

It is important to note that even though the book focuses mostly on L88 racing Corvettes, stories are not limited to them and the book includes many other important as well as significant Corvettes, such as that of a 1965 Corvette with only 4000 miles, the 1971 sideways ZR2, the restoration of a 1969 Baldwin-Motion Phase III Vette, and many others.



Car Tech Books has done a great job of packaging the product between hard covers, printed on high-quality paper, and complemented by great color photos. I bought my copy from Amazon for around $24 and consider it a bargain.

Final Thoughts...

Again, finding classic Corvettes is no easy task, and the stories in this book are proof of that.

While there is no doubt that knowledge, grit, optimism, perseverance, and the patience of Mother Teresa are required ingredients to locate these vehicles, a great amount of good luck is also necessary.

But locating the cars is barely the first step. That first step must be followed by the acquisition of the vehicle (which sometimes is easier said than done), expert verification, original parts must also be found or fabricated, plus hours upon hours of the most detailed and accurate restoration from top to bottom.

Without an expert team, this would be an impossible task, and Mackay has assembled a great group of craftsmen to bring these valuable and important machines back to life.

As I reached the final pages of The Corvette Hunter, I was surprised as to how abruptly it ended. I kept trying to find a non-existent last page that would allow the book to end on a better note, but that was it. I hope there will be a sequel to the final chapter, and I am sure Mackay has many other great stories to share.

If you are a Corvette owner or enthusiast, you will love this book.
It would also make a great gift for any Corvette aficionado.

Thank you for following my 1976 Corvette blog!


The Corvette Hunter: Kevin Mackay's Greatest Corvette Finds
by Tyler Greenblatt
Hardcover: 224 pages | Publisher: CarTech Books (March 16, 2018)
ISBN-10: 1613253478 | ISBN-13: 978-1613253472


TABLE OF CONTENTS

  • How Kevin Became The Corvette Hunter
  • 1967 427/435 Coupe: Bounty Hunter
  • 1969 John Paul Lightweight L88
  • 1969 VV Cooke #80: The Winningest C3 Corvette
  • The Sunray DX Cars
  • 1969 See-Through L88
  • 1960 Briggs Cunningham #3
  • 1966 Roger Penske Development L88
  • 1965 4,310-Mile Convertible
  • Kevin's Corvette Stories
  • Lucky Local Garage Finds
  • 1969 Baldwin-Motion Phase III
  • 1965 Fuel-Injected Tanker
  • 1956 Sebring Racer #3
  • 1966 8-Ball Racer
  • 1965 Mark IV Heavy-Duty Test Engine
  • 1971 Sideways ZR2
  • 1957 Airbox Corvette
  • Special Engine Finds
  • 1965 Black/Black Tanker
  • 1953 Corvette #003
  • 1966 Steve McQueen Sting Ray L88
  • 1960 Briggs Cunningham #1

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please share your thoughts.