265, 283, 305, 327, 350, 396, 427, 454….Virtually all Corvette C1-C3 enthusiasts know that these are the cubic inch displacements of V8 Vette engines. Most Corvette enthusiasts know that the Vette’s first “big block” was the 396 and it debuted in 1965. A lot of Corvette enthusiasts know that vehicles with L88/L89 427s or LS6 454s can bring hundreds of thousands of dollars (L88s can actually bring over $1,000,000 in some cases). All three of these engines produce 430+ rated horsepower. Actual output was higher. The bottom line, more horsepower generally equates to higher values. Click here!
1974 was the last year for a “big block” V8 engine and no catalytic converters in the Corvette model. ‘74 454 cubic inch V8 equipped Vettes weren’t surpassed in horsepower output until the ZR1 debuted in 1990. This particular car came from the factory as a 454 equipped convertible.
Most Corvette enthusiasts also know the 1978 Indy 500 Pace Car was a Vette that was outfitted with a very cool two tone black and silver paint job and silver interior. Shortly after the ‘78 Pace Car was introduced, John, this car’s previous owner, made the decision to create a very cool combination of a lot of the aforementioned Corvette characteristics plus more. It’s a 1974 convertible equipped with its original numbers matching 454 engine block (that’s been massaged for increased output – more on this below), an upgraded high performance Nash 5 speed manual transmission, ‘78 Indy Pace Car paint/complete silver interior and to top it all off, it only has about 13,300 ORIGINAL miles on it! Even the dashboard and gauges were converted to the ‘78 Indy Pace Car components.
The old odometer read approximately 9,000 miles when it was pulled out and the new one reads approximately 4,250 miles. It also has an upgraded Pioneer AM/FM tape deck and custom speakers that still work. The staff at Petersen Publishing (Hot Rod, Car Craft, Motor Trend and others) liked it so much they featured it in an issue in the late ‘70s or early ‘80s. We’re in the process of figuring out which issue (we have the original 8X10 photo proofs – see pictures) from the shoot. Bob McClurg photo shot it and actress Lori Birdsong posed with the car.
The car’s only had several owners, two of which were brothers (John and Glenn) who owned it for the last 37.5 years. As you can probably imagine, they’re big time car guys. When it came time to address the engine’s power, the stock 1974 454 Corvette engine’s output of 270 horsepower and 390 foot pounds of torque wasn’t enough. John made the decision to send the engine out to one of the premier racing engine builders in the country at the time, McClintic RDM of Albuquerque, NM. We were told that the legendary race car driver, Bobby Unser, was also a client of theirs around the same time this engine was built. They, like many other top big block engine builders, liked the shorter stroke of the 427 more than the 454’s (they have the same bore). As a result, this engine was converted to a high performance 427 via a crankshaft swap when it was built. John and Glenn don’t recall a whole lot more about the specifics of the build. After spending some time behind the wheel, we’d be shocked if it’s not putting out well over 400 horsepower (we just sold Glenn’s built 502 cubic inch V8 equipped ‘74 Corvette convertible that put out over 450 horsepower and this car is just as fast).
This all adds up to well over $30,000 worth of tasteful upgrades. More importantly, this Corvette was built right and by a legend in the auto performance world (do a websearch for Bob Norwood when you have a minute – he’s now 73 years old and is building million dollar cars). The modifications equate to the ultimate combination of looks, low mileage, performance and collectibility. It also sounds great, but isn’t so loud or radical that you can’t comfortably drop the top and cruise around town. The paint is in average condition for its age. More specifically, it’s a 20 footer and has imperfections like oxidation and typical Corvette spider web cracks here and there. However, we’d leave it exactly as it is as you’re probably not going to find another one like it….anywhere. It’s also equipped with two convertible tops (hard and soft), power steering, power brakes and air conditioning. It was recently inspected and has no known mechanical issues. Check this out!