Saturday, July 6, 2019

Cars in Yards: 1974 Corvette, the family car fairy tale with a 4-speed

A 4-speed was the ticket for this Harley-Davisdson owner.

Family car Corvette. Imagine the ultimate Corvette fairy tale. One where dad decides to bring home a hot rod instead of a grocery getter. We all wish our dads would have done something like this! Kent Roberts pulled off the all-time best excuse to buy a 4-speed Vette. 
  Some guys are really good at math. Division is a great skill to have when you have real life math problems, such as Roberts' growing family transportation problem. He had a wife and a daughter and was about to have another. This sounds like a very common occurrence. The ‘I need a family car-thing’ has happened to many of us car guys. The only problem was, Roberts' main mode of transportation was a motorcycle. 
  Now that TWO girls would be occupying the back seat, his wife was rather insistent. 
  “You must get rid of the motorcycle and get a car!”
  When will wives and girlfriends learn that, with car guys, you must be specific? She wasn’t. That was where she went wrong. Roberts got a car all right. Oh, did he ever — a 1974 Corvette complete with an L82 and a 4-speed! So, with the motorcycle already (technically) having two seats... he was only a little more ergonomic.

Roberts bought a 4-speed Vette because his wife told him it was time to get rid of his motorcycle.

Simple math
  How does four divide into two? Despite not having an engineering degree, somehow for Roberts, it did. We figure that he must have had experience in Chinese jigsaw, because it worked for him. A wife, two kids and a really cool set of wheels. Mr. Roberts — you are a king.
  Let's go a little deeper into this family car scenario. Roberts knew he wanted a 4-speed. 
“Quadragear me!,” he declared. 
  Although, when Roberts was set to search for a suitable replacement for the motorcycle, he wasn’t necessarily focused on a Corvette. But when he found this 1974 example, it did indeed have proper criteria — the 4-speed. This was it. This was his car. Sold!

1974 was the first year for the body-colored rear bumper cover on the Corvette.

“What? I did get a car”

  The Vette was equipped with the higher horse L82-350 engine. It was a cool power plant indeed. Making 250 grocery-getting horsepower, it could get to softball practice in a hurry. It was the lack of a commodious back seat or trunk that was the problem. Roberts could indeed pick up the child, but the glove and bat would have to wait for the next bus. Imagine the negotiating skills this man must possess.

An L82 option 250hp/350-V8 is tucked beneath the fiberglass body.

Digging deeper 
  1974 was a series of first and lasts (see Fun Facts) and this Corvette was special enough for Roberts to hold onto for 38 years. The Vette was quick, fun and in retrospect, really didn’t use too much fuel. Gearing was perfect! Nothing less than a 3:08 gear ratio was available on this car. This was impressive for 1974, but Roberts knew the potential potency of the small block Chevrolet. He wanted more!
  A new set of aluminum heads found their way to the top of the L82, bumping the 9-to-1 compression up significantly. The cam was already lifting those valves high enough, so Roberts right foot was about to have a party.

Weathered emblem on nose of 1974 Corvette.

Color me brown
  We thought from a distance that this car was another color but this ’74 Vette was repainted at some milestone along the way. We (Ron) mistakenly thought it was the color we can’t pronounce easily. Don’t make us say it, but if we goof up the name Mille Miglia Red, forgive us, for we now know this example was born code 968 Dark Brown. Whew! We can pronounce that one!
  Chevrolet allowed GM to have their way with the interior colors. A handsome saddle hue in leather was the choice of the original owner. Chevrolet let you pick the exterior color, but the interior was only slightly negotiable. Only four colors were available to accent your favorite Corvette flavor. That narrowed it down a lot. Sometimes they offered five choices, but for the most part Chevrolet dictated that four was plenty enough. Whomever picked this combination did an exquisite job and had impeccable taste.

Only 6,690 L82-equipped Corvettes were produced among the 37,502 total in 1974.

Do you want to?
  Roberts has shared the life adventure with this car long enough for it to become part of the family. He cranks it regularly and has no intention of parting with it anytime soon. (Editor’s Note: This did not stop Ron from shamelessly handing Roberts a list of potential buyers, which was nothing more than a piece of paper with Ron’s name on it.) We here at Junkyard Life understand. 
  Thank you, Mr. Roberts for showing us a really cool car with an even better story!

Ron Kidd
— Junkyard Life: The Story Beneath the Rust

Brown velour seats in the 1974 Corvette.

Tachometer was replaced from a vehicle with electronic ignition when Roberts swapped ignition system from points and condenser.

Front and rear bumper covers were replaced after Roberts bought to Vette around 1981.

1974 was the last year you could buy a Corvette without a catalytic converter.

Saddle interior components complement the 4-speed stick inside Roberts' 1974 Corvette Stingray.

Unmistakeable profile on these third-generation Vettes.

The L82 350-V8 pumped out 250hp.
The Corvette shift plate alerts all to the horsepower under the right foot. The L82 350-V8 pumped out 250hp and 285-ft lbs of torque.

Stingray emblem is long gone but not forgotten.

A base sport coupe Vette cost around $6,000 in 1974. Looks like any "old" Corvette will eventually be worth more than MSRP. 

Junkyard Life’s 1974 Corvette Fun Facts 
  • 1974 was the last year for the optional LS4 454 engine. It was advertised at only 20 more HP (270) but admitted to a tire shredding 380 ft-lbs of torque at only 2800 RPM. 
  • 1974 was the first year with two non-chrome bumpers. This gave us an idea of what the Corvette had in store for us aesthetically in the coming years of the 1970’s. 
  • 1974 was supposed to be the last year for the ultra cool and dare we say sexy finned wheel covers-but it wasn’t! They stopped offering them in 1973. Boo. We do love the Corvette specific 15x8 Rally Wheel. Okay, fine. They are enticing as well.
  • Junkyard Life was wrong about the initial color of this car by a long shot. How could we mistake Mille Miglia Red for Dark Brown? This was not the "Little Red Corvette" that Prince told us about. 
  • Roberts entertained the idea of painting the Vette a pearl white. He even started some of the color change process. Then he experienced some degree of sticker shock when he found out how ridiculously expensive the pearl-based paint is. 
  • For drag racers, a Corvette was a sure path to the famed “4-bolt main” engines. This means there were four bolts on the main caps holding the crankshaft down instead of two. More insurance your motor will not fly apart at high RPMs.
  • Corvette’s name was defined as a highly maneuverable warship used as an escort. The association was not lost on American Airmen, as the Corvette proved to be very popular with pilots.
  • There is an irony to the origin of the (Ron’s mistaken color) Mille Miglia. This is a reference to an Italian endurance race that covers one thousand miles. The race began in 1927 and when it was resurrected, it limited the cars entered to be produced no later than 1957. The irony is that the 1974 Corvette would be too “new.” (Editor’s Note: Ron got the color so wrong, we made him look up the origin of the name
  • During the space race, there was a time when astronauts were presented with a new Corvette.

Share your car story? Send us details and we’re on the way!  Send emails to Jody Potter at & Ron Kidd at

Stick shift Corvettes command our attention no matter the vintage.

1 comment:

BoH said...

Hei, my friend here in Sweden own a Corvette like this. Nice car.