Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Cars in Yards: Mystery custom Corvette

What year is this mystery Corvette with custom bodywork?

Call it a Corvette winter for Junkyard Life. We’ve uncovered yet another mystery Vette. One might say it is even a season of Corvettes. So many twist and turns and arbitrary fate lead us to another abandoned Chevy. Breaking almost all of our journalistic integrity, we write the story, but we really can only speculate. Not that I (Ron) am ever truly prepared to put automotive archeology on paper, but with this Corvette… I am as lost as anyone. Maybe ahead of other Corvette followers, only because I know where the car is. That just about ends my knowledge of this once world-class entry into the supercar world.

Council, it appears your entire case is based upon speculation and not so much fact

What evidence?
  Guilty, your honor. This is all purely conjecture at this point. I think it is a 1969 model. I think it was a small-block car because of the flat style hood. It was for sure a t-top model. I am not sure that the rear window “popped” out like the advertisements for the 1968 proclaimed. The console tag that usually confessed the horsepower, the torque, cubic inches and compression was long gone. As were the engine and transmission, which by the way was a four-speed. One of the few things I am sure of.

We don't find many chrome-bumpered Corvettes in the weeds anymore.

  The color was not even what it appeared to be. A bright shade of red probably looked fantastic on the car at some point. Then I discovered a light blue hiding traces of a former identity. I did find the cowl tag ( a poorly named item on this car, for it was located on the door). The paint code confessed it was born a darker green. Code 983. This is what helped us with the year. If it were:

  • 1968-code 983 would be British Green
  • 1969-code 983 would be Fathom Green
  • 1971-code 983 would be Brands Hatch Green
  • 1970, 1972 & 1973 code 983 would be very rare, because there were none.

Originally built as a Green, code 983 code, Corvette.
This Vette was originally green but was repainted in a shade of red similar to Marlboro Maroon. Check out the custom bodywork.

  The tail lights offered no clue. It is as if they have been changed. The “hips” look a little exaggerated as well. Could this have been a Mark Hamill wanna be during another time of year? (Editor’s Note: Ron goes a long way to make obscure references to the cheesy B Movie “Corvette Summer.” Make sure you notice and pretend to laugh

Originally a 4-speed Corvette but the drivetrain is nowhere to be found.

Came with a stick
  So… often we come across engines and transmissions that came out of a Corvette. Those parts are usually desirable simply because of their origins. Chevrolet gave their entry into world class supercars the best of everything. Bigger valves, stronger blocks. Everything needed for a heavy duty muscle man kind of machine.

Back story
  But we usually assume the donor Corvette was wrecked. Then the good stuff saved and transferred to another car for bench racing bragging rights. This car was not wrecked. Granted, it was not in good shape. The idea I got from my interview was that over the years, the car faced a series of unfortunate events that lost or destroyed the places it was stored. Eventually, the car arrived here simply for that reason. Life and other obligations relegated the Vette to this spot. It will be stored properly again soon.

Sting Ray emblem is from a 1964-65 model Corvette.

What do you think?
  So, Sherlock Car Guys, Vette enthusiast and fellow Junkyard Life readers. Help us out! We know it is a 1968-1973 — we know that. Help us solve what this Corvette really is. What model year is this? Is this a “World of Wheels” circa 1975 custom job? Do the taillights really tell us something by not telling us anything at all? Why can we not have caffeine in our Strawberry Fanta? (Editor’s Note: JYL staffer Keith owes me $5.00. I told him Ron could not make it through this story without asking/using a statement never before referenced in a JYL article.) Armed with the right information, maybe we can inspire the owner to start turning wrenches on this fun-mobile. Yes! — Help us help him. 1968? 1969? 1971?
  How close are we? What do you think? Comment below.

Ron Kidd
— Junkyard Life

Clues! 3 skinny pedals in the floor for the manual shift Vette.

Egg crate side gills lead us to believe this is a 1970, 1971 or 1972 model Corvette. But who knows with all the custom additions.

Custom headlights replace the pop-up versions.

Just to confirm, nothing to see under the hood. It's a V-0 engine.

Look close you may find a Corvette in the thicket.

Sorry blurry pic, but it's the only one of the driver's side on the mystery Vette.

The custom work on the Corvette may have been just enough to devalue it to yard art status after the drivetrain disappeared. We see potential and memories of hot rod days gone by.

Do you have a classic or muscle car barn find? Send us details and we’re on the way!  Send emails to Jody Potter at or Ron Kidd at

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Burt Reynolds: "The Bandit" lives on in all of us; the man who made the Trans Am famous

Black and gold 1977 Trans Am was used as a promotional car for Smokey and the Bandit.

Ride on, Mr. Bandit. September 6, 2018 was a sad day for many people. With the passing of Burt Reynolds, we all lost a little of The Bandit that lives within us. Especially the Pontiac crowd. We all credit Reynolds and Hal Needham for the massive popularity of one of our favorite cars of all time — the Pontiac Firebird Trans Am. Adorned in black with miles of gold pin stripes. Pontiac may have built the car, but Burt made it.
  I was but 7 years old when I fell in love. As did the world when the Bandit, Bo Darville, pulled that 1977 Trans Am S.E. out of the back of Snowman’s rig. A collective gasp rang out across the theater as well as the nation in that moment. The world got its first look at the 1977 Trans Am Special Edition that day. The visual impact, the sound and the power hypnotized us for the rest of the movie. Skip the popcorn. The car didn’t just have a hold of us during the movie. I mean it gripped us for the rest of our lives. 

Jackie Gleason, Burt Reynolds and Sally Field with Fred the basset hound.

Popularity contest
  “I will sell more than you can make.” 
  That's what Hal Needham, creator, producer and director of Smokey and the Bandit, told a skeptical Pontiac marketing representative. True to his word, the sales began. How could anyone with a heartbeat see this car and not want it? It should be noted that few people were in the market to buy a car that year. Only now they had to. There was no getting out or around it. 
  “My life simply cannot continue without one of these in my driveway.” 
  His prophetic prediction proved to be very true. People were having their new Trans Ams painted black if a black one could not be located. The movie strengthened America’s obsession with t-tops. They were a “must-have” item. Pontiac called them “Hatch Roofs.” They hatched something alright. Millions of brand new car enthusiast.

Money cannot buy happiness
  Oh yeah? It could buy far more than that for several demographics. It bought you a bit of rebellious expression. It bought you a fun way to do otherwise mundane things such as go to work, school or even the grocery store. It bought you a personal dose of rock and roll and infused it into your life. It bought confidence. It bought you cool. It was Trans Am School and our teacher, Burt, showed us the way. Errands became fun and exciting if your inner Bandit made an appearance.

This 1977 Pontiac Trans Am, used as promotional car for “Smokey and the Bandit,” sold for $550,000 in 2016.

Close as we could
  Thank you Burt. Those of us too young to buy a Trans Am begged our parents to let us pretend, somewhat, with phoenix-adorned jackets and hats. We bought Hot Wheels and even bicycles striped like something Mr. Bandit would ride. We didn’t know what product placement even was, but even if someone told us, it was too late. We were bitten by the Firebird disease and would be affected for life. 
  My parents watched something on Saturday afternoons that was sponsored by Pontiac. My seven-year-old ears could pick up the sounds of the ’77 and ’78 Trans Am commercials even from another room. 
  “Don’t sit too close to the TV!,” my Mom would yell. 
  If I were any closer, I would have been inside the TV. My blue jeans would be scuffed up from my homerun-like slides toward the TV from a running start whenever I heard the sounds.

Jackie Gleason and Reynolds ad-libbed most of the diner scene in "Smokey and the Bandit" – few scenes featured the two stars face to face.

We really didn’t pick our friends that way
  What a blessing it has been though. Through this Pontiac Firebird community we’ve met a lot of great people. Junkyard Life enjoys finding and writing about these special cars. I (Ron) just drove my 1979 WS6 to Ohio for the Trans Am Nationals where the Birds are celebrated to grand extent. Our friend, Greg, hosts a Firebird Bar-B-Q that rivals the Tipp City, Ohio (America’s largest Bird only cruise in). We have completed several Bandit Runs, a Smokey and the Bandit-inspired scenic road trip hosted by Dave Hall’s Restore A Muscle Car. All these enthusiast do a great job of organizing these things so we can enjoy making new friends and spending time with our old one.
  I bought my daughter so many Hot Wheels Hot Birds that she asked me to stop (or buy her something else occasionally). Jody too, has a Firebird-loving daughter who has her own 1978 Formula. It is kind of funny how he seems to still think that his beautiful black and gold 4-speed T/A is safe around her. How  many times do you remember being at a teenage cruise spot and someone pulls up in a hot car you have never seen? “It belongs to my dad. He doesn’t know I have it out.” Only a million times. Sorry, Jody.

“He Must Have Had A lot of Friends, Daddy”
  So, thank you Burt Reynolds for giving us a persona and an alternate identity we could morph into and all feel better about ourselves. Our inner Bandit will shift just a little harder and push a little further to the red line. You had a long way to go and a short time to get there. You showed us how to do it the fun way! I can imagine Juniper Florida on that historic, somber day. I foresee Highway 1 lined with fans, friends and Firebirds as the funeral procession rolls through. 
  We will miss you, Burt. One iconic man that will not be forgotten as time rolls on. Forever a legend. They call him The Bandit.

Ron Kidd
— Junkyard Life

Do you have a great classic or muscle car barn find story? Send us details and we’re on the way!  Send emails to Jody Potter at & Ron Kidd at